By Tyler Bray, Owner, The Trailer Parts Outlet.
An enormous, yet often underrated, aspect of building your business is investing in the growth of your people. This means setting an example for them in terms of how to think about problems and solve them.
As I develop members of my team, one theme that’s been incredibly important is finding the positive in a perceived disadvantage.
This is a topic that is as deep to me as my personal roots. It’s a mindset that I believe is indispensable and applicable to all pursuits and fields.
Finding The Positive In Perceived Disadvantages
I grew up in a mixed environment. I had my biological father and my stepfather. While there are no shortages of stories about disadvantages to kids in that position, I found it had amazing upsides. I had two father figures, two mentors to show me similarly valuable yet different attitudes toward business and life.
Beyond that, I believe it made me more adaptable and empathetic. I was exposed to more people and more cultures. That makes you a good communicator. It also breaks you out of your comfort zone early in life, which may be jarring at the time, but it’s one of the best preparations for life there can be.
Flipping Disadvantages On Their Head
I started my business at a very young age. You probably guessed correctly that very few people took a 14-year-old seriously. However, there were upsides to this situation as well. Competitors did not see me as a real threat. I was able to grow while they ignored me until I became a real threat!
Additionally, being young brings out the mentor in people. Suppliers were willing to “show the kid the ropes,” and I soaked up all the advice I could get. Your mind is a sponge at that age, and learning comes quickly. Furthermore, I had endless energy for the long hours entrepreneurship takes.
You probably know of some disadvantages you wrestle with in your own business. Conduct a thought experiment in which you ask, “What if this disadvantage were a hidden superpower? What would that look like?” Having fun with it lets you see it in a new light.
Problems I’m Still Solving By Finding The Other Side Of Setbacks
Setbacks and disadvantages in business — and life — never go away. For example, I had a situation in which I purchased boxes that I couldn’t use. I could not resell them, either. To someone else in my position, it might have looked like a simple loss. However, we took those boxes and used them as padding to improve our packaging for other products. Customers received a product that was better protected against shipping damage. It might seem simple, but it’s better than the impulse to throw the boxes out to forget about your mistake.
My advice to entrepreneurs facing setbacks they can’t solve is to find a quiet, after-hours moment and approach the problem with some charity toward yourself. Sometimes dialing back on stress can show you new possibilities.
Challenges To Solve For With This Mindset
When you’re looking for the flip side of a perceived disadvantage, remember that patience is key. I’m in a situation where I have 500,000 in inventory I thought I could sell for profit, but so far, have not been able to. I don’t know when the right opportunity will come along for it, but I’ll be ready when it does.
Aside from patience, you will probably wrestle with doubt. Doubt in yourself and in your decision-making. Remember, you’ve come so far and you’re capable of more. Blind faith moves mountains in business. Patience and faith will help you solve problems.
I can write articles and give internal growth seminars, but I’m most committed to setting the example of how I want my team to think by living it. I look at my team members and see that they are shifting toward approaching me with solutions. I see that they react to setbacks with more optimism and have a more positive outlook on challenges. I have seen more of my people move into this mindset, and I celebrate the wins this has brought into their lives.