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3 Critical Factors to Move Your Small Business Forward

The purpose of a business is to grow and pursue something greater than itself, pushing past obstacles, doing what is required, and mitigating as many of the bottlenecks as possible.

I believe the best way to build any business is to take a meaningful step forward every day. Some days many be a half step and other days a giant leap – but it is the meaning of the movement that makes a significant impact on the good work we do.

Here are three factors that will set you up for best outcomes:

1. Get Out of Your Own Way

“As you go to work on your business, you must think beyond what the day-to-day reality of your business calls you to do.” – Michael Gerber

The mindset of the entrepreneur is at the forefront of how your organization functions. According to Mathisen and Arnulf there are two types of mindsets that will define how an entrepreneur thinks: a) being open to new information and reflective or b) being a doer who is action focused.

Both mindsets can have benefits and costs, and . A person with the first mindset may take too long to act and miss an opportunity. The second person may be so busy doing that vital feedback is missed and customers are lost.

Getting out of your own way by moving beyond your default mindset is the first critical factor to help move your business forward. This may mean getting the mentors and supports you need, which will be different for each one of us. Some people may need to:

  • Seek more family support.
  • Heal troubled relationships that are holding you back.
  • Reach out to new, more positive tribe mates.
  • Join networking groups that feel good to attend.
  • Hire someone with a specific skill set to fill in a gap (like I have done with Linda Dessau from Content Mastery Guide who is helping me get these blog posts out and on time).

2. Have Courage

Being in leadership means many moments of feeling and being vulnerable. The pressure to lead well, be open, and be trustworthy carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. Brene Brown addressed Inc.’s Leadership Forum in 2013, suggesting that even though people commonly equate vulnerability with weakness, in reality it means something else entirely: it means being courageous.

In addition to starting my MBA in 2013, I was also elected president of the Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT). I was not expecting to reprise the same role I had held over 13 years prior (proving a bit of insanity on my part), however after being contacted by several senior CAMT members about the possibility of my return and listening to their needs and rationale for such an unprecedented move (a president coming back to the position for a second term many years later) I felt I had the support I needed to do so.

My role as the CAMT president allowed me to test my MBA learnings – promoting complete transparency and openness, and facing courage instead of fear.

Although I am still afraid to hurt other people’s feelings when I express my viewpoint (people pleaser syndrome), I do believe this is an important part of the leader’s role. It’s important to speak from your intuition, heart, and experience and then to be open and flexible to help the organization move towards its ultimate goal. Having courage will look different to everyone. Some people may need to:

  • Revisit their mission and strategize more strongly around this higher purpose.
  • Test more often. Not every idea or approach is going to work – but you won’t know unless you try it.
  • Look in the mirror and say, “I am allowed to make mistakes.” As the CEO your intentions are clear: you want to succeed. Being allowed to make mistakes is a critical factor for building your courage.

3. Become a Flowmaker

Aside from the term “social-purpose business,” which sparked my immediate interest and percolated a sense of belonging, another word that has come to mean just as much to me is “flow.”

It’s not that I hadn’t heard this word before but only in the last year or so has it reached into my consciousness and resonated its place within my business.

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus , full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” – Michael Csikszentmihalyi

Discovering this definition immediately transformed the core of my business belief system. It contained all that I held dear as a business owner, a social entrepreneur, a global citizen, and a music therapist — that to be successful and satisfied in work, one must:

  • Be fully immersed.
  • Have an energized focus.
  • Feel fully engaged.
  • Enjoy the process along the way.

When we resist forward motion we become a backwards business, one that begins to fizzle and may even eventually die. I believe that success stems from a steady pursuit of the greater goal – one meaningful step forward at a time. This blog series  aims to help you get there.