4 Ways to Think Your Way to Success

4 Ways to Think Your Way to Success

“Think and Grow Rich”
—Napoleon Hill

As small business owners, we often spend the majority of our days putting out fires and spending our limited time on whatever is urgent to ensure the survival and smooth operation of our businesses. I would be willing to bet that most of us are far more focused internally on our own operations and profitability than on what’s happening outside of our companies and on what the future holds.

But while there will always be fire to put out in normal day-to-day business operations, the savvy business owner must look at four basic elements of their business to effectively manage it. Those elements are:

  • Operations
  • Products
  • Competition
  • Trends

The problem is that most of us were never taught in school what we should be thinking about or how we should allocate our time and brainpower in business—we are simply expected to figure it out on our own.


One great way to grow as business-men and women is to emulate what the CEO’s of large corporations do to make their companies so successful.

Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett Packard talked about our four basic elements in a New York Times feature article.

Operations – Internal: Hurd said, “The reality is that we have a set of stuff that just isn’t going right. There are a lot of different things here that I wish were better.”

Products – Internal: Hurd’s philosophy when thinking about products was, “Think about strengths and weaknesses. Do we think about our printing portfolio? How do we feel about our storage portfolio?”

Competition – External: What others were doing was important. He added, “Then I think about the world through the lens of competition—which is how does the competition think about these trends and think about their portfolio?”

Trends – External: Every CEO needs to think forward for survival. Hurd was no different. His take, “The world is thinking about digitization. The world is thinking via the cloud or some alternate form of computing. The world is going more mobile.”

As Hurd describes, it’s important for us to be thinking both inside and outside of our company’s four walls. Part of our time should be spent thinking about how the company is performing (internal). The other part of our focus should be on what the competition is doing and the latest trends in the marketplace (external).

But is that realistic? Maybe this illustration is wishful thinking for small business owners. With all that we have going on, our limited time forces us to put most of our attention inside our companies.

If this is the case, it’s all the more important to make a conscious effort to devote mindshare toward what’s happening out in the marketplace. With 50% of small businesses closing down within five years and only 30% of businesses surviving for 10 years, it’s imperative that we think more about the future and trends. How else will we grow our businesses if we don’t make time to raise our heads up above our daily tasks?”


This may seem daunting but with a little practice we can shift the way we think about our businesses and this type of thinking will become second nature. Here are some starting points to practice broadening our mindsets and implementing these four business elements.

Operations – Internal: By staying tuned into the operations of our businesses, we should be able to identify operational strengths and weaknesses so that we can set more precise goals and improve operations. Is everything running smoothly? How effective is your staff? What are the pain points within the business or the process? What are your customers saying about your business or process?

Products – Internal: How are your products performing? Do they need improvements? Are they meeting the customer’s needs? Are they becoming obsolete or are you effectively educating your market about your innovation? Do you have more to give than you currently have available? Can you add value to a new product or service?

Competition – External: What is your competition doing and where are they seeing the market go? Where are their marketing efforts focused? Are they improving existing products, creating new ones, or remaining stagnant?

Trends – External: What are the current trends and how do they affect your industry? Can your company develop an app to take your product or service mobile? Can your company become more environmentally friendly? How can you incorporate social media and “Facebook Live” to better reach your market?

Don’t underestimate the power of your mind and that of your staff. By training our brains to think bigger, consider more opportunities and look to others to find new ways to do things. By doing so, we will be able to find success and to “think and grow rich”.

For more of my insights on this topic check out my latest book Creating and Sustaining Unstoppable Business Momentum available on Amazon and DrBradPoppie.com

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