Which Comes First—the Positive Attitude, or the Positive Results?

Is your small business growing and achieving—or struggling and barely squeaking by? The recently released Small Business Success Index from American Express OPEN measured small business owners’ characteristics and business success and divided them into four categories: High Achievers, Strivers, Sustainers and Strugglers. While all types of business owners are optimistic—84 percent or more of entrepreneurs in each of the categories say they have a “glass is half full” outlook—the high achievers are more likely to have a positive view of the economy. In fact, 93 percent of them think the economy is improving, compared to 71 percent of strivers, 46 percent of sustainers and 34 percent of strugglers. High achievers are enjoying more positive results in their businesses as well. For example:
  • 87 percent of high achievers believe their businesses’ revenues will increase over the next six months, compared to 53 percent of strivers, 32 percent of sustainers and 32 percent of strugglers.
  • 50 percent of high achievers say employee morale has improved, compared to 30 percent of strivers, 12 percent of sustainers and 13 percent of strugglers.
Do high achievers think things are better because things are better for their businesses—or have things become better for their businesses because of their actions? Like the chicken or the egg, it’s hard to say which came first. But if you want to improve your business, it certainly can’t hurt to emulate the things high achievers are doing. Here are some key areas where high achievers differ from the other categories of business owners (and particularly from the strugglers).
  • Rewarding employees—66 percent of high achievers offer employee bonuses and/or raises, compared to 42 percent of strivers, 37 percent of sustainers and 24 percent of strugglers. In addition, 45 percent plan to promote employees, compared to 20 percent of strivers, 14 percent of sustainers and 11 percent of strugglers.
  • Using social media—72 percent of high achievers use social media for business, compared to 54 percent of strivers, 42 percent of sustainers and 47 percent of strugglers.
  • Getting feedback—60 percent of high achievers ask customers for feedback on how they can improve, compared to 51 percent of strivers and sustainers and just 36 percent of strugglers. In addition, 79 percent of high achievers ask customers for advice on how to serve them better, compared to 71 percent of strivers, 65 percent of sustainers and 49 percent of strugglers.
  • Attracting customers—I was a bit surprised to see that high achievers are actually more likely that other categories to offer discounts. Some 57 percent do so, compared to 50 percent of strivers, 47 percent of sustainers and just 43 percent of strugglers. They’re also more likely to offer loyalty rewards—47 percent do so, compared to 30 percent of strivers, 36 percent of sustainers and 41 percent of strugglers.
What do these results mean to your business? A positive attitude is a great starting point, but it takes more than thinking positive to succeed. You also need to take action to move you toward your business goals. A SCORE mentor can help you plot out the best actions to take to give your business a positive result. Don’t have a mentor yet? Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today.
Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="http://www.growbizmedia.com/" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia">GrowBizMedia.com</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/rieva" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="https://www.score.org/author/Rieva-Lesonsky/all-posts" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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