The Biz

“I suck. I’m worthless. I’m burned out. I’ll never make this business work.”

“Boom thinking”: Cheri Britton coaches business people on how to change their negative thought processes to achieve success.

These are common refrains for many frustrated business owners, executives, managers, entrepreneurs and employees when things just aren’t going their way. True, pessimism and cynicism can work for some people by helping them to focus and work harder. But for most, that kind of negative thinking and mental self-flagellation can often perpetuate failure and prevent a business or career from reaching maximum potential.

Coaching people to change their thought processes and break out of old mindsets to maximize business, professional and even personal success is what Asheville’s Cheri Britton does for a living through her firm, BOOM Thinking (

And while shiny, happy people may often provoke a desire in many of us to smack them upside the head, the fact remains that positive people do generally tend to be happier, more successful and lead longer, healthier lives, says Britton.

This mind/spirit approach to business success seems uniquely Asheville, but is it just schmaltzy Stuart Smalley-style affirmations Britton offers, or is her advice akin to the trite you-can-have-it-all “Law of Attraction” spiel offered in the bestseller The Secret?

Britton says that while both can tend towards superficiality, especially in the case of The Secret, the basic tenets do inform a part of her work. But simply being positive and expecting positive results is, well, too simple, and ultimately prone to failure, she says.

Changing your mindset takes work, which she is more than happy to facilitate through speeches to corporations and organizations, one-on-one or small group consultations, coaching seminars and even teleconferences. On Oct. 18, she notes, she conferred with about a hundred real-estate brokers across the nation via a telephone conference to help buck up their spirits and motivation amidst the current national housing downturn.

“I came into the world as a pessimist,” says a cheerful, perky Britton in a phone interview with Xpress. “So I’ve experienced the power of pessimism as a motivator. But, to me, what I found was that it came at a cost. When you’re looking for the worst-case scenario, you’re life is pretty much a downer. I became so good at finding all the places for things to go wrong, and then it’s like you don’t get to use your optimistic muscle—and anything that’s not used atrophies. I’m a person who’s worked very hard to retrain my brain to see what is working.”

Business people are often typified as type-A personalities internally geared toward success. But they’re still people, and their thoughts are apt to ebb and flow like everyone else’s, says Britton.

“I’ve coached big-time corporate people, I’ve coached the one-person show who has a small acupuncture practice or something,” she says. “But I can tell that at the core many of us are exactly the same.” The mindset many business people have bought into is that you have to do everything alone, she adds. “This American belief of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and doing everything alone is counter-intuitive to what really works. So people may come in and they are go-getters in their business, but they are running themselves ragged trying to do it all themselves. And then when we identify that their limiting belief is that they have to be master of every particular aspect of their business … [they learn] they don’t have to do all these things they hate or aren’t good at. So these limiting beliefs show up everywhere, I don’t care how many zeros are on your paycheck.”

Home Trust nabs SBA honor: The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more loans than ever before in North Carolina, the agency reports, and Asheville’s own Home Trust Bank has been named one the state’s top SBA lenders. In its recently announced 2007 Lender Awards, the SBA tabbed Home Trust as the N.C. Community Bank 504 Lender of the Year.

In fiscal 2007, approvals for both 7(a) and 504 lending totaled 1,869 loans for more than $373 million. In 2006, SBA 7(a) and 504 approvals totaled 1,812 loans for $321 million. This marks the seventh year in a row that SBA loan approvals have increased above the year before.

A total of 1,702 loans were guaranteed through the 7(a) program for more than $277 million compared to 1,628 loans for $218 million in 2006.  This represents the best year in the history of SBA’s N.C. District Office. 7(a) loans are the most basic and most used type loan of SBA’s business loan programs. Its name comes from section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, which authorizes the agency to provide business loans.

SBA 504 loans in the state dipped during the year. In 2007, North Carolina’s 10 certified development companies approved 167 loans for $93.7 million versus 184 loans for over $101.7 million in 2006. SBA’s 504 program offers financing for fixed assets, such as land, buildings and equipment.

The SBA Lender Awards were presented at the North Carolina Bankers Association Management Team Conference on Oct. 15 in Pinehurst.


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