Why Some Owners Learn, While Others Complain

May 12, 2011 | Competing in Today's Economy, General

When I spoke in Battle Creek, Michigan and Lafayette, Indiana two weeks ago, it was like old home week!  In my Lafayette audience, there were ten (10) business owners who stayed all day for my workshop, who had also attended my 2 1/2 day Destination BootCamp previously (three of them had attended twice!).

So why is it that some owners are interested in continually improving themselves, learning more, growing their businesses, and re-attending my workshops multiple times, while others wouldn’t attend if you’d pay them?  Why do some owners proactively engage in their businesses to take them to much higher levels?  Why are others more resistant to learning new techniques to grow their businesses, but committed to being the most vocal complainers on the block?

After 25 years of consulting with tens of thousands of business owners, I’ve concluded that complaining is so much easier than going through the process of reinvention that is necessary if one really wants to accelerate the growth of a business.  I’ve also concluded that it’s kind of fun to take on the role of the grumpy curmudgeon, pointing out the mistakes of everyone else and being the preeminent vocal critic.

But in this world of small business, I’ve learned the number one characteristic of the best-of-the-best is their eagerness to always want to learn more. You see, the true geniuses of small business are really not geniuses at all. They’re great listeners. They’re voracious learners. They are rapid processors of new information, and they make it their goal to surround themselves with people who are similar. They know this is the way they will become more prosperous. They know they don’t know it all. They know there are new things they haven’t heard and they know they must reinvent their businesses, continually.

Here’s what I get a kick out of: in both cities where I spoke, we had multi-million dollar business owners, some with over 30 years of experience, staying and taking notes for over 6 hours, sitting shoulder to shoulder with brand new owners, some not one month into running their businesses.

Then, there were those owners who stayed home, thinking they knew what I was going to say, thinking they already knew all they needed to know, some conducting their own silent boycott of the event. Unfortunately, those that stayed home not only missed learning something new from me, but they missed learning from all those world-class owners in my audience.

At both workshops, I gave over 70 specific steps any owner can implement to improve their sales, right when they walk out the door. Honestly, I have the least sympathy for owners who have their businesses in Lafayette and Battle Creek who didn’t attend, who then complain that their community isn’t helping them to be successful. There were owners driving in from hours away to attend these conferences, some coming in the night before and staying in hotels.  If you purposely skipped this event when it was right in your backyard, you missed a huge learning opportunity that your community served up to you.

The greatest thing about our entrepreneurial system is that anyone can start a business and become their own boss. We are guaranteed this freedom. But after that, you’re free to follow your own course.

To grow and learn. To stay put and be right. All your choice.

Ultimately, to succeed. Or not.