Small business owners need a healthy dose of stubbornness. They need it to start the business – in spite of the family, friends, former bosses and statistics that say it won’t be a success. They need it to keep going, even when it looks like they might fail. And they need it when the business hits the ordinary, and not so ordinary, snags and problems of daily operations.
But, look at the first sentence again and notice the words “healthy dose”, because stubbornness has a downside. In some cases it even has a dark side. There’s a good, a bad and an ugly part to entrepreneurial stubbornness.
Stubbornness and not listening to the nay-sayers helped Steve Jobs create (and recreate) Apple, the Broncos win the Super Bowl and Andrew Carnegie to endow a national library system. Our country has a long history of independence, fortitude and determination in many areas.
The desire to “not answer to anyone and do it my way” is a strong motivator that’s successfully built Fortune 100 companies and the local job shop. As any self-employed person knows, it’s what makes working the long hours, investing the capital and making the sacrifices worth it.
However, stubbornness can take a wrong turn. There’s a point when pure, darn cussedness crosses the line from good to bad. It happens when a person is so inflexible they’re unwilling to learn. This makes it difficult for them to listen to others’ viewpoints – others who have valuable knowledge and ideas.
It’s impossible for one person to know, understand and keep up with everything (i.e. taxes, health care, marketing, product advances, technology, best practices, regulations, industry innovations, market volatility) needed to run a business. Smart owners know that one of the benchmarks of success is the need to shift from a one person show to a team approach.
There comes a time when an owner can cross the line from bad (poor management skills) to ugly (self-destructive). This happens when they stubbornly cling to only their beliefs, ideas and ways of doing things – when they’re unwilling to accept critiques from or even consider the advice of others.
This behavior usually results in: loss of or disgruntled key people, large turn-over, dissatisfied customers, poor product quality, increased employee theft, too much rework, decreased profit, poor reputation, lost contracts and often bankruptcy.
Good, positive entrepreneurial stubbornness can easily turn bad and ugly over time. Particularly when a person fails to understand that we all need to evolve if we are to compete and prosper in a changing world. We must be willing to learn to do so. As Benjamin Franklin said, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: