Life as a small business owner and entrepreneur is hard – no matter how effectively you have built your systems, the promise you made to yourself when you opened the doors was (or should have been) to be successful.
Now, success looks different to every person – there’s no debate about that. For some, it is a secure income and plenty of free time (by the way, that’s the wrong answer) while for others, it is to create a truly paradigm-shifting change within an industry that, over time, completely changes the needs of millions of people, institutions, and cultures. McDonalds. Apple. Starbucks.
They were all small businesses, owned by entrepreneurs and people with vision.
What made them world-changers?
Lots of things, as any student of the history of these companies can tell you. One thing that isn’t talked about often enough, though, is how each of us can effect change within our own companies – easily – by drafting a better group of people to spend time with.
Steve Jobs didn’t seek solace among minimum wage workers. He sought it from highly educated men and women who understood and shared his focus on growth, technology, and company-building.
Now think about the people you hang around with – not your family, but outside of your family.
What do they look like?
Are they successful? Business owners or wage earners? Financially secure or struggling? Leveraged, financed, or free and clear?
How about this, more subjective one – how is their attitude?
Because, Dear Reader, they are you.
More than a few studies have shown that the five people you spend the most time with represent you – so you need to decide – who do you want to be?
Think about it like this – if you are with five wealthy people, you are the sixth wealthy person. If you are with five successful people, then you are the sixth successful person. The reverse of this is true as well, so who are you hanging out with?
At the same time, spending time with those who represent your interests or objectives allows you the time to hear answers to the same sorts of challenges that you might have. Other entrepreneurs have worries that are congruent with yours, but a factory worker or a cubicle dweller? They don’t.
In fact, you could make the argument that as a business owner and entrepreneur, you really don’t have any reason to spend loads of time with those who aren’t leaders in business at all – what are you going to talk about? The boss? The union? “How bad” stuff is?
Nope – you’ve got nothing in common with them and when you realize that, you can migrate that desire for comradery to the men and women that can help you further your business skills and focus. Understand that this is not about politics, this is about growing your business and making you a smarter entrepreneur whose associates help you to make smarter decisions due to their experience in the “real” world.
Of course, finding the right five people is not a magic bullet for your own success, but think of it as an overall part of your own strategy to keep building and growing as an entrepreneur.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.