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Do You Think Like a Business Owner?

You need to adopt a business-owner mindset if you want to become more successful.

By Preeti Vasishtha

What do you need to do to grow your practice and take it to the next level? What will help you reach greater levels of success? An industry expert believes that the answers to these questions lie in your attitude.

“It is amazing to think that our success, income and happiness have to do more with our attitude than with anything else,” said Glenn Mattson, owner of a Sandler training office in New York. “It’s crazy to think that our beliefs, whether positive or negative, drive our success.”

Mattson, who has been offering consulting services for more than 17 years, presented a session on how our mindset creates our practice and how to change that mindset at this year’s MDRT conference in June.

To succeed, you need to think and act like a business owner, he said. Not everyone is psychologically made to be a business owner. The successful business owner has a unique mindset that impacts his practice, staff and clients’ experiences. Here are some aspects of that mindset.

Why not? Business owners view the world from a “why not” standpoint. Why can’t I go into that market? Why can’t I obtain 90 percent of my new clients from my A clients? Why can’t I earn more and take more time off? Why can’t I have a significant approval rating from my client base? Why not have employees who are as committed to the business as I am? Why not have juniors who produce and have the same belief systems I do? Why not believe there may be better ways to accomplish my objectives? Why can’t I have it all?

This attitude opens our minds to options and allows us to bridge our dreams to reality, he said. All of us think about what could be; we daydream about life and its possibilities. Business owners, on the other hand, take action after they daydream. They have a plan they act upon.

Clarity. The business owner will have clear objectives for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Along with these goals, he has an outline of the organizational chart for each year. The chart is designed by title, roles and responsibilities, and job description. The 2010 plan has specific benchmarks and clearly defined due dates. Each person within the organization fully understands his role and responsibilities and each member fully understands other team members’ roles. Everyone knows what others have to do for the machine to run smoothly.

No excuses. Business owners take responsibility for what they do or don’t do. Because they take ownership, they don’t make excuses. Employees don’t make excuses simply because they understand that excuses will not be accepted. Accomplishing this is not as hard as you may think, he said.

First, stop making excuses to your clients, your staff, your boss, your home office and to yourself. Once you do that, you will stop accepting excuses from others. We normally don’t hear excuses because we make them so often.

Plan. Business owners understand the need to have a plan. They work their plans and find themselves unwilling to be part of someone else’s plan unless it is called for. When you don’t have a plan, by default, you become part of someone else’s plans. Plans are what give business owners the ability to stay focused on task and not get distracted by a “great idea.” Staying the course allows business owners to truly understand the concept of time. They understand how long things will take and the work that is involved.

Money. Business owners often pay their staff better than others. They should pay their staff based on a three-tiered equation. Employees receive a lower base for their position than the market demands. They have two avenues to achieve bonuses. The company objectives must be hit to have the second tier kick in. The other bonus kicker is if, or when, the individual accomplishes his goals. If all goes according to plan, then employees make more money than in other places.

The “we” mindset. “We” means that, as a group, we can achieve much more than as individuals, he said. A classic thought process of producers who are trying to convert their level of growth to that of a business owner’s is: “I would be making more money if I got rid of everyone and did it all by myself.”

This thought bothers them all the time, especially when they are following a plan and the results are not showing as fast as they hoped for. The "we" mindset is not about the pooling of expenses as some firms do; instead, it’s about ensuring that the entire team does better than if each member worked independently.

This is adapted from a speech at the 2010 MDRT annual meeting. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


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