Is your attitude hindering your chances of business success?

Having a good idea for a business is only part of the story if you want to become a successful entrepreneur. As well as a strong plan, it’s essential that you have the “right” attitude.

Chris Niarchos unpacking boxes from a truck.
It took years of hard work, set-backs, lean living and even some heavy lifting to get my first business off the ground.

For me, a positive approach to running a company can be summed up in the simple phrase ‘be something more’, which I made my company motto. This is about striving for excellence and continuous improvement.

If you don’t have a good attitude, chances are you’ll find it difficult to reach your goals. With this in mind, here are some of the traits I have learned can stand in the way of your success as an entrepreneur.

 Are you prone to panic?

Being able to deal with high-pressure situations is a must if you want to start your own business, or succeed in your chosen role or profession. There are very few positions that are completely stress or challenge free!

When you’re faced with an issue, you have to be able to keep a cool head in order to assess the situation and make appropriate decisions. Whether it’s holding your nerve during negotiations or responding to an unforeseen crisis, panic is never the best approach.

Are you too slow to change your approach?

It’s no secret that things don’t always go to plan in business – and this means that, to stand a chance of long-term success as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing and able to adapt.

If you’re too slow to react to market forces, changing trends, or when you encounter difficulties, you’re likely to struggle to keep your company on course. It can be hard – and even downright daunting – to change your approach, but I’ve learned that no idea or strategy should be seen as sacred.

Do you find criticism hard to take?

If you struggle to take legitimate, constructive criticism on board, you’ll find it hard to grow as an entrepreneur.

It’s not always easy, but if you’re willing to listen to what others have to say and genuinely consider their feedback, you’ll be able to learn from their comments and become stronger and more effective as a result.

Do you expect instant success?

Ask any famous actor or singer and they’ll no doubt tell you that it took them years to become an overnight success – and entrepreneurs are no exception. If you start a business expecting it to take off instantly, you’re probably not going to be prepared to put in the time and effort needed to make your venture work. And nine times out of 10, this will mean you’re in for an unwelcome surprise.

For me personally, it took years of hard work, set-backs, lean living and, as the photo shows, even some heavy lifting (that’s me on the lorry!) to get my first business off the ground. Almost 30 years later, it continues to take the time, effort and dedication of many people to maintain it. It’s definitely worth being aware of what it takes to be successful (in anything) and bringing the attitude needed to stick with it.

Do you find it difficult to take responsibility?

Taking responsibility is a big part of being an entrepreneur – and this applies to the bad as well as the good. There’s no point in blaming others or making excuses for problems you face. As the head of your business, you’re in charge of what happens to it. By accepting accountability, you should find it easier to respond constructively to the ups and downs. You’ll also find it easier to earn the respect of the people around you.

Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.

Longevity and leadership: an Angela Merkel masterclass

Image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Businesspeople can learn from Angela Merkel’s approach to leadership, says Chris Niarchos. (Image: 360b /

Angela Merkel was elected to her record fourth term as Chancellor of Germany last month, making it evermore clear that this woman knows what makes a great leader.

Of course, there are many “right” ways to lead – different styles bring different qualities to the table – but there’s no doubt that the business world can learn a whole lot from Merkel’s approach and staying power.

Calculate your risks

Merkel once described how, as a child, it took her an hour of standing on a diving board before she was able to jump off. “That’s how I am; not particularly courageous. I always need time to weigh up the risks,” she says.

She’s been given flak for being overly cautious, but Merkel’s ability to weigh up risks has kept her leadership steady.

In business, accurately assessing potential risk to reward is critical. You can’t always play it safe, but making sure you know what is on the line is the best way to avoid taking a poor gamble.

Be pragmatic

Perhaps because of her science background, Merkel usually takes a methodical and pragmatic approach in dealing with issues of the day.

She once said: “For me, it is always important that I go through all the possible options for a decision.”

Such an approach can be hugely beneficial in business as well as politics. Rather than acting on impulse, giving yourself space to make a decision will often prevent you from reacting to a situation emotionally.

There are times when it pays to go with your gut, but you should make sure your head gets a say too.

Stand apart from the crowd

Merkel entered politics with no political background. She’s a divorced Protestant woman in a Catholic party. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but it does highlight that she’s clearly used to being a member of the minority!

But far from letting that hold her back, she’s used it to her advantage and built a reputation of courage by never being afraid to be a lone voice.

Following the crowd can only take you so far; to reach the top you need to be willing to make bold moves alone.

Having confidence in yourself is such an important part of business. If anyone’s going to believe in your ability to succeed, it should be you!

Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.