Owning and operating your own business can be a liberating and exciting opportunity. Creating your own success and mapping out your future on your own terms is empowering. At the same time leaving the comfort of employment including regular working hours, benefits, and a consistent salary can often be discomforting, if not downright scary. For most entrepreneurs the desire to be independent and create your own life outweighs all apprehensions, but still comes with associated risks.
While there may not be a bullet-proof success formula that works consistently for every business, there are common characteristics that unite all successful entrepreneurs. Continue reading to determine how many of these skills and characteristics you have mastered as well as where you may want to focus on improving.
1. Positive outlook on life and success. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic, upbeat, and look to the future as an opportunity still awaiting. Big dreams are a common theme with successful small business owners and often what propels the individual and the business to its ultimate success. In conjunction with the big dream comes the necessity to break it down into smaller visions that can be clearly articulated, monitored, and measured. Many if not all successful entrepreneurs have great imaginations and spend time mentally visualizing success. This includes thinking about specific deals, transactions, and events that will ultimately lead to personal and business success. Clarity of purpose and staying focused on the task at hand are critical to achieving business success. The more realistic the visualizations and dreams the more likely you will be to achieve. Success is ultimately birthed in the imagination and mind and translated through daily actions inspired during those visualizations.
It is widely known you must “see it before you can achieve it.” Though business success ultimately lies in the physical ability to provide a product or service at a profit, the product, service, and ultimately the unique approach to these transactions are all byproducts of mental visualization. If you are an author, visualize your next book signing after your release has gone #1 and you’ve made it to the best-selling list. If you run an auto repair shop, visualize successful interactions with clients in which you deliver exceptional service and value during each transaction. Ultimately you must take whatever niche, product, market, service, and segment you are involved in and visualize how you will succeed at delivering value to the clients you serve while ultimately earning a profit. The most successful entrepreneurs out there visualize the success of the product or service in their mind prior to it being affirmed in the physical marketplace.
2. Passion = Profit. Personal passion is a prerequisite for any successful business. If you enter a business deal strictly looking to make money or achieve success and aren’t passionate about the business, the people, or the end result, you are severely limiting the potential outcome. Passion ignites enthusiasm in those that surround you; team members, clients, vendors, etc. Profits find passion in business regardless of the market segment. Passionate about auto recycling? As strange as it may seem other people are too. Embrace your passion and look for ways to share your excitement and knowledge about a specific product or service with others who share a similar interest. Embrace your love for the product or service you deliver and follow the path that ignites passion in your daily life. Passion provides the necessary motivation that ultimately leads business owners down a path towards fulfillment of goals and dreams.
3. Compensate for weakness and focus on your strengths. Most of us have been taught through the traditional school of thought – which unfortunately restricts our ability to succeed. Traditional thinking teaches us to be humble about our strengths and consistently strive to improve our weaknesses. Successful entrepreneurs often turn this mantra upside down. Instead of spending countless hours and energy attempting to develop skills you may never master – focus on what you do best and compensate for the rest. We are all gifted with unique individual talents that are expressed naturally in our day-to-day interactions. You may be good at writing, analysis, speaking, insight, relationships, painting, interacting with kids, animals, etc. We all have inherent traits that come naturally and don’t require long hours of hard work to achieve. That doesn’t mean we don’t improve with practice, but let’s face it, some of us are specifically better at things that others aren’t. Focus on those things that you do best and compensate for the things you don’t. Find team members that are strong where you are weak and vice versa and you will build a synergistic team that supports each other exponentially.
4. Failure is not an option. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is not an option and continually look for ways to succeed. Don’t allow failure to be considered at any level in the organization. Focus on success at all times and never let the possibility of failure take root in your mind or business culture. There will always be setbacks and learning lessons throughout any business venture and life, but find the opportunity for growth and success in every dilemma and challenge faced. All negative circumstances can be turned in to a positive and ultimately failure does not ever have to be selected as an option. Any circumstance can be re-framed with a positive twist no matter how bleak the situation may appear.
5. Prepare and execute the plan. Dreaming often comes naturally to entrepreneurs. Detailed planning and execution may not. In order to ensure success at moving from where you are to where you want to be, a detailed plan must be drafted and executed. Utilize the Merlin Method (“begin with the end in mind”) and work backwards from there. For example, if you would like to become the next Donald Trump, start with Donald Trump as the end result. Move back from there and make a list of the traits required to become Donald Trump. What relationships, transactions, business deals, and skills are required to succeed? Which of these do you possess? What items to you need to work on? Assess where you are at, who you are, and ultimately who you need to become to get to where you want to go. Formulate a plan that enables you to move down the path acquiring the skills and building the relationships necessary to ultimately arrive at the end result you are striving for.
6. Be dedicated! Successful entrepreneurs know that a business is similar to a baby in that it will require nurturing, attention, and caring, throughout its entire life. Different stages will require different levels of input and interaction. Make sure you are serious about and able to afford the time required to ensure successful implementation of your business plan. Long hours and hard work are often part of any phase of the business. If you are truly passionate about what you do none of this will really be negative. Remember to schedule time with family and friends, and most importantly for yourself. Though many hours may be spent caring for and nurturing your business, you ultimately are not good to anyone if you burn out before the business succeeds. Be conscious of how you are feeling and the work load you are undertaking. Being dedicated does not mean you are completely consumed by the business. When at work focus and commit to completing the necessary tasks at hand. When scheduled away from work – leave the business alone. Be dedicated to your business, your family and friends, and living a balanced life and you will be more likely to succeed in all areas simultaneously.
7. Build relationships and network. Ultimately it isn’t what you know – but who you know. We have all encountered this motto multiple times during our business careers, and it still rings with truth in every situation. Surround yourself with a competent team, board of directors, advisers, vendors and partners and continually look to network. Ultimately the people you meet during your daily interactions will be the ones that will buy from you, support you in delivering your product or service, or in supporting you personally in your quest for success. Opportunities will present themselves through the people you meet on a daily basis.
In business, you are judged by the company you keep – from your management team, board of directors, and strategic partners. Businesses always need assistance, more so small businesses. Maybe the lady you met in a trade association meeting can help you secure funding, or the gentleman you bumped in to at a conference can provide you with management advise. It is important to form alliances with people who can help you, and whom you can help in return. To succeed in business, you need to possess good networking skills and always be alert to opportunities to expand your contacts.
8. Desire to learn. You do not need to be an MBA degree holder or PhD graduate to succeed in your own business. Actually formal education is often inversely proportional to the amount of success achieved in small business. Curiosity and a desire to learn how to solve real world issues is what propels many business owners to success. Talk to those around you and find out what would best help the greatest number of people in your market and you will have found a winning proposition. It often isn’t about how smart you are in a certain area but more specifically how well you are able to clue in to what other people are telling you and how you can help them solve problems.
9. Keep the faith. The road to success will often contain detours and potential pitfalls. Keep faith in your original dream and vision and ultimately good things will arrive. Realize that one of the biggest factors in determining your future success will be in how you deal with temporary set backs. Stay focused on the ultimate end result and have faith in your ability to succeed. Setbacks are strictly learning lessons that ultimately teach you how to be better at what you are attempting to do. Each setback enables you to pick back up and potentially increase momentum in your business by utilizing the learning lessons from the experience.
10. Practice discipline. Thomas Huxley once said, “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you like it or not.” Do what others are unwilling to do and ultimately you will have opportunities that others won’t. Realize that you are on a mission that requires faith, commitment, and discipline. Find those traits and behaviors that support success and practice the discipline required to hone those skills day-to-day.
Ultimately if you possess or are able to master these 10 characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs you will find yourself to be one of them.