Entrepreneurs need self-confidence to succeed, but they may be deluding themselves about their abilities. Professors Larry W. Cox of Florida International University and Steven Sommer of the University of Nebraska looked at factors that entrepreneurs believed led to the success or failure of their companies, which averaged 10 workers and $1.4 million in sales. The result? Most entrepreneurs attribute success to their own efforts and talent, but blame failure on outside forces, such as bad luck or hard times. The danger is that owners who do so won't get needed help, while those taking undue credit for success may be unprepared for a downturn. Get a reality check from reliable outsiders, the authors suggest--a lawyer, a banker, or an advisory board.

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