Overcoming Personal Challenges to Build a Successful Business

photo credit: Ondeck

Small business owners tend to be some of the toughest and most resilient people you’ll ever meet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have personal challenges to overcome. But is there a secret to overcoming challenges in a small business?  I recently had the opportunity to chat with Q&A with Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Mogul, Entrepreneur and Shark Tank Judge. I asked her, “How have you overcome personal challenges in your own business and what advice do you have for other business owners?”

Barbara’s advice was very enlightening:

“Everyone has personal challenges to overcome, and I’ve had my fair share of challenges, too.

“As a kid, I was convinced I was stupid because I couldn’t learn to read or write in school due to my dyslexia. But my lack of confidence made me overcompensate and over-prepare for everything I do in the business world.

“When my business partner and boyfriend left me to marry my secretary he told me, ‘You’ll never succeed without me!’ By saying that he handed me the greatest gift of all, an insult, which gave me the motivation to get back on my feet and the determination to prove him wrong. I’ve found that the key to getting back up is not to feel sorry for yourself. I’ve noticed the common ground of every successful person I’ve known is THEY DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THEMSELVES.”

My 11-year old son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, so I was particularly interested in how she was able to become a success, despite this learning disability.  She said, “Resilience is a trait most of the small business owners I’ve met over the years seem to have in common. They don’t easily give up. They’re always looking for a way over, under, around or through a problem or challenge—despite any personal struggles they may face. I think it’s also why most of the successful small business owners I know seem to take their personal challenges in stride.”

She also talked about a few other things successful people, including small business owners, seem to do to help them overcome personal challenges:

  1. They focus on their capabilities: It’s pretty common, particularly in business, for people to focus on strengthening their weaknesses (or challenges), but most of the successful people I know tend to focus on exploiting their strengths. They recognize it’s their strengths that set them apart and don’t let their personal challenges get in the way of accomplishing their goals.
  2. They build a supportive network: In other words, they build a team around them to maximize their efforts and augment their weaknesses. Sometimes they might turn to a partner that has expertise they don’t have or they might hire key employees to fill those roles they might not have much experience or strength in. They’re not afraid to seek help in those areas where they might perceive a weakness or lack of skill (this could also include overcoming personal challenges).
  3. They’re not afraid to seek professional help and advice: When medical or physical limitations exist, they seek out medical advice to find ways to overcome their physical limitations (handicap access for example), and work to overcome the challenges associated with their limitations. They don’t let their pride get in the way of getting the help they need.

Everyone has weaknesses many people face challenges that many not be evident, but we can’t allow our weaknesses to define us or limit our vision for success. Barbara’s determination in the face of her challenges has allowed her to build thriving businesses and become a household brand, and she is wonderful example to all of us.

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