Originally posted – Jun 27, 2014
I once read that “the ability to find energy and power from what we can’t know or control provides an immense competitive advantage.”
Of course, as self-service laundry owners, we can only know so much about our businesses, the economy, customer behaviors, the weather and unpredictable competitive influences. Yet, we operate our enterprises every day despite the fact that what we know or can predict about our business is actually often exceeded by what we are unable know or predict.
This is true of nearly every small business – and many large ones as well. When you stand back and view our activities as small-business owners, you realize that most of us walk on the “unpaved surfaces”of the planet throughout our lives. But we all just keep walking.
According to psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, “grit (perseverance) more than any other individual single human quality (such as intelligence, education or experience) accounts for success in most everything we do.” It’s also called mental toughness.
So, with that in mind, here’s a list of eight human qualities that are well worth developing so that you can operate your self-service laundry business and more comfortably navigate those “unpaved surfaces”on your way to success:
1. How’s Your Vision?
According to British essayist Erich Heller, “Be careful how you see the world, it is like that.” There are many metaphors for Heller’s statement – most notable is the glass is half-empty or half-full analogy. Mentally tough people see things objectively, but at the same time are realistically optimistic. Learn to view the world, your laundry business, your customers – and your life – in positive terms, and this will enable you to become more content, accepting and mentally strong.
2. Avoid Cognitive Overload
I don’t think you need to be reminded that in these times your life is being encroached upon (like it or not) by every form of communications mode imaginable – digital and otherwise. This can be overwhelming and cause a lot of stress, strain, anxiety and confusion.
Although it’s great to learn about the world, economics and business, sometimes you just have to say, “Stop!”Cognitive (intellectual) overload occurs when you are receiving or seeking simply too much information on any given subject. This also can cause confusion and self-doubt.
Because of the easy availability of the internet, you can research virtually any subject related to the laundry business until you are inundated with information and become totally confused. (By the way, this is also a common phenomenon with many stock traders, who are always looking for just one more bit of useful information.)
To avoid such overload, keep your research “12-year-old simple.” Of course, I don’t mean that literally. The point is to learn just enough to be effective and helpful, but not so much to where you overload, confuse and somewhat paralyze your decision-making ability. Mental toughness will result, because you will eliminate the confusion of too much information-gathering, which only leads to self-doubt and insecurity.
3. Reside in the Present Moment
It’s only human to review the past and think about the future. However, if done in excess, it can affect your functioning. Thinking too much about regrets or past mistakes can cause depression, while worrying too much about what might occur in the future can lead to anxiety.
Focusing on the present situation will permit you to view things as they actually are. Therefore, when managing and marketing your laundry business, concentrate on the present – and you will suffer from much less stress, which only interferes with creativity and can derail your ability to plan effectively.
Those who are mentally strong tend to stay essentially “present,” focused on the things they can influence, while at the same time keeping an eye open with regard to the future of their businesses.
4. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
It’s OK to make mistakes – and even to laugh at yourself for having done so. In fact, mentally resilient business owners do this all the time.
No, it’s not a sign that you’ve lowered your standards or are “slacking off.” It’s actually quite healthy and simply means you acknowledge that you’re human. Plus, it’s a great way to relieve stress.
What’s more, it’s a useful way to let off steam without doing damage to your self-concept. Perhaps you spent some money on a marketing promotion that simply didn’t get results.
Just don’t repeat the same promotional error, and instead learn from the experience. After all, even the best NFL running backs fumble occasionally. So embrace your setbacks as growth opportunities.
5. Lose Your Sense of Entitlement
Most of us strive to be happy all of the time; however, in reality, most of us simply are not. There is no law that says people deserve an existence completely free from difficulty, failures, obstacles or setbacks.
Mentally tough business owners expect and deal with these difficulties effectively. To these operators, such hurdles don’t come as major shocks when they occur. But, if you were happy all of the time, just imagine how difficult it would be to deal with the negative events that no doubt will pop up from time to time.
So, the next time an employee disappoints you or a customer criticizes you or a machine breaks down or a blizzard ruins your Sunday sales, the best way to react is to calmly accept the event and move on.
You will have a happier life as a laundromat owner once you understand and accept how unpredictable the world – and your business life – often can be.
6. Be Ever So Curious
Curiosity is a great characteristic. It helps you develop creativity and also enables you to diversify your intellectual life. Mentally tough business owners often are very curious people. This trait makes their lives more interesting, because it’s a form of intellectual diversification.
For example, as a laundry owner, you can take marketing and copywriting classes at your local community college. You also can take psychology classes to learn more about what makes people tick and, in turn, improve your advertising and manage your employees more effectively.
In addition, you can study virtually any subject you like – from ancient civilizations to art history – for no other reason than the simple fact that it interests you and you find it relaxing to do so. No justification is necessary.
7. Let Your Passion Shine
Mentally strong entrepreneurs let their burning desires show through. Talk openly about your ambition to develop outstanding laundry customer loyalty programs and an innovative attendant management style.
Your enthusiasm will become contagious. You will attract more customers, and you’ll have happier employees, too.
Be passionate about your laundry – because passion leads, money follows.
8. Borrow Other People’s Brains
Mentally resilient business owners don’t believe they know everything. They have the ability to borrow and benefit from other peoples’ knowledge.
Here’s an idea: develop relationships with and consult self-service laundry owners in other states who will not view you as a competitor. Also, borrow marketing ideas from other types of retail businesses by attending some of their meetings and trade shows. If you pick up just one or two ideas using this technique that can be useful to running your laundry business, it will have been worthwhile.
Former President Woodrow Wilson likely put it best when he said, “I not only use all of the brains I have, but all I can borrow.”
Think of it this way… the best things about strong, resilient small-business owners is not necessarily what they are, but also what they aren’t.