There are countless problems and opportunities in the world today, and the human race relies on entrepreneurs for solutions and growth in every facet of life. We rely on them to give us smart phones, electric cars, social networking sites, world-class food, Oscar-winning movies, and, indeed, much of the very fabric of our culture.
I’ve always liked to read about world-class entrepreneurs, and I’ve found that the most successful ones in history shared at least ten traits in common.
Whether you currently possess these traits or not doesn’t matter. Anyone can develop them if they want to, regardless of education, experience, or accomplishments.
The fact is the world can always use more highly successful entrepreneurs that have the courage to steadfastly work toward greatness. Are you willing to become one?
What you ultimately get out of your business in the way of personal satisfaction and fulfillment, financial gain, and an enduring mark on society will be the sum of what you put into your business.
Entrepreneurs that don’t truly enjoy their work will rarely, if ever, achieve any real level of success. Highly successful entrepreneurs, one for one, are in love with their work not because it makes them rich or famous, but for its own sake. They couldn’t imagine themselves doing anything else.
Highly successful entrepreneurs possess burning passion for their work—one that they can tap into when times get rough, when distractions beckon, and when naysayers detract.
This naturally stems from the first trait.
Highly successful entrepreneurs are crystal clear on why their work is supremely valuable and helpful to others. They don’t toil away for a paycheck but for the chance to change people’s lives, no matter how insignificant it might seem to others.
Look at movie producers, for example. Some people could view their work like this: They work tirelessly for many months to produce a product that, if done well, entertains people for an hour and half or so, who then go on with their lives. Big deal, right?
Well, that’s not how a great producer would explain it. He would say that he works tirelessly for many months to produce a product that, if done well, will not only entertain, excite, and move millions of people, but will get them to view life a bit differently—to not take the small things for granted, or to stay true to their goals, or to treat their fellows with compassion and understanding, or to face evil courageously.
The great producer would say that he works tirelessly to steer our culture toward a bright future, and to reveal to people the essences of life.
Highly successful entrepreneurs feel just as strongly about their businesses, regardless of how mundane or trivial the industries might seem to you or me.
Highly successful entrepreneurs know that if the many aspects of a business endeavor aren’t meticulously planned, they will never be done properly, in the right sequence, and on time. Thus, they analyze situations, research and compile data, and make decisions and thorough plans based on a full understanding of what is, what is to be, and how to get there.
To some, all this work seems distasteful or unnecessary. It takes quite a bit of thought and analysis. It feels easier and more gratifying to just get into action on something—anything—than break it all down in advance. Those that skip planning in business rarely succeed, however.
No, things never go exactly as planned, and the ability to adapt to circumstances is just as vital as planning. Winning a war requires both brilliant strategy (planning) and tactics (adaption to actual conditions), and business is no different. You have to first clarify exactly what your objective is, and exactly how you will get there, with forethought as to potential obstacles and curve balls, and then you have to execute that plan and adapt as it unfolds.
Highly successful entrepreneurs always take the time to chart their course in detail before embarking.
Your business’ lifeblood is its cash flow. Without enough cash available, you can’t buy materials or products, you can’t pay for services, you can’t market your products and services, you can’t repair or replace work materiel, and you can’t pay yourself or others sufficient wages.
Highly successful entrepreneurs are very wise money managers. They ensure the money earned is properly accounted for and budgeted, but more importantly, they ensure that cash keeps flowing in by focusing their and others’ efforts on the activities that make the company money (even if they don’t “like” it).
Having great marketing and great things for sale doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make any money. Here’s a business truism: to make money, you need to know how to get people to buy your stuff.
Not just tell you that you do great work. Not just say that they loved your ad. No—you need them to fork over the cash. And there’s a lot more to that than just being enthusiastic and having a pretty website.
Highly successful entrepreneurs are invariably great salespeople and can not only get people to buy their products and services, but can get people to buy into their ideas and thus recruit great employees, raise money, get publicity, and so on.
Highly successful entrepreneurs know that their business is not about their beautiful products or world-class services. They know it’s not about their competitors and how to out-maneuver them. They know it’s not about how many people they know in the industry.
Highly successful entrepreneurs know that their business is all about the customers. Period. They know that they serve their customers, and that their success is solely reliant on retaining the privilege to serve these people.
Thus, highly successful entrepreneurs are constantly focused on improving their customers’ experiences. They creates company policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, marketing campaigns, etc. to try to make the customers happier.
Highly successful entrepreneurs know that no one person can build a great business alone.
It requires a team just as dedicated as they are, and they seek to surround themselves not with people that just want to work for a paycheck, but that believe in their vision and purpose.
If you build a better mousetrap, the world will probably NOT beat a path to your door.
Highly successful entrepreneurs know that stellar abilities, products, and services are rarely discovered and embraced by a marketplace without being consistently and actively promoted.
Thus, highly successful entrepreneurs promote their businesses, products, and service rigorously and force their markets to notice them.
Everything in business is constantly evolving. Industries shift. What worked last year may not work this year.
Highly successful entrepreneurs read voraciously to stay on the crest of the business wave. They read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, blogs, and industry publications. They join associations and clubs, network with their peers, attend seminars and workshops, and take training courses. They spend a considerable amount of time and money on these things because that’s the first step of improving understanding and skills (actually applying what is learned is the second).
Highly successful entrepreneurs do this even if they feel they’ve mastered some aspect or aspects of business. They are always looking for newer, better ways to do things. They never stop investing in their most powerful, successful, and dependable tool for business success—themselves.
For most entrepreneurs, there’s a never-ending list of tasks and projects to get done. The temptation to bury ourselves in work and never come up for air is very real and alluring.
Highly successful entrepreneurs always include time in their busy schedule to “unplug” and reflect on what they’re doing, where they’re headed, and how it’s going.
On top of that, they also take time to fully take their minds off work and have some fun, which is incredibly refreshing and helps them jump back into their work with verve.