I was recently asked to contribute to an article discussing the habits that make entrepreneurs successful. It was the first that I’ve looked back on my experience to see what has worked. So from my viewpoint here are the 7 habits of successful entrepreneurs:
When I set out on my own 5 years ago I believed I was good at what I did and that I would succeed on the strength of that. However the first surprising lesson I learned was that being good is not the first requirement for an entrepreneur. Being good (or preferably great) will get you hired again, it will see your customers return but it will not help you in getting those first customers.
From this starting lesson, these are my 7 habits for entrepreneurial success:
I have often been amazed to see people chop and change their focus looking for that one thing that will bring instant success. As soon as they see the amount of work involved they quickly become disillusioned and try something else. They have fallen into the trap of looking at another successful business person and saying “well I could easily do what she is doing” and then jump. They have done no close study of what that person did to be successful or how long it took or the barriers they overcame.
If you love what you do and you have a passion to pursue it then do so and stick to it. Have the patience to build something that will be permanent and have a lasting effect on you and those around you.
It is exceptionally rare that successes happens quickly. The availability of astounding and cheap technology makes it possible for anyone to start a business and get going. It is only those that have the long vision for their passion that will ultimately succeed.
Once you have decided to BE something focus on BEING that.
Build a Network
If I were to pick one of these seven habits as the most important it would be this one. It is your network that will get your hired. It is your network that will refer your customers.
Social platforms have made it practical and simple to have a global network. Attend events and connect, find like minded people on Facebook and Twitter and connect.
As you build your network there are two terrible mistakes that are often made: 1. You sell yourself and, 2. You try to be popular. Neither are useful to you.
Focus on helping your network. Interact on Facebook or Twitter. When someone is looking for a plumber or some other help, do what you can to assist. The more you help your network the more you will be helped by it in time to come.
The magical aspect of networking is that you don’t really have to talk too much about yourself and how brilliant you are. If you are genuine and passionate in your interaction your network will come to know you and you will be top of mind in your field of expertise.
Have the patience to let the network begin working for you. It won’t happen quickly because trust gets stronger over time. See point 1.
Learn from your industry
Whatever field you have chosen, there will be experts and people who are successful. Connect with them and learn.
Find industry groups that are active and become part of them. Ask questions and observe. Your observations, coupled with your experience as you grow will guide you in what works and what does not.
There are other people that have made mistakes. Shorten the path to success by not making their mistakes.
As you grow share your knowledge
As you learn and become more expert in your field, share that knowledge. Participate in online groups, write a blog, post articles on LinkedIn. Nothing establishes your credibility like helping and answering questions and sharing your knowledge. This is also an excellent way to build your network further.
Be flexible and willing to adapt
The world is changing fast. There is new knowledge, new technology all the time. If you have a fixed idea about how things should be you are very likely to miss how they are. Don’t be dogged in your approach and feel that there is only way to do something.
Observe and review what you are doing frequently and try new things and new ideas.
Take people with you
Entrepreneurs are vital to job creation and growing our economy. When you are ready to employ people don’t just hire labour. Those who work for you should share in the passion of where you are going and they should also share in the reward. The workforce today is far more driven by passion and purpose. Take advantage of that but share the journey with them.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey and it often seems the world is on your shoulders. But there are always people around that you can lean on for some support, guidance or advice. A spouse, a brother, a mentor. Whoever those people are be sure to include them in the success as well as the stress. By this I mean let them know when their advice helped, when you win and make progress. Don’t just go to them when you’re stressing and struggling. Openly credit those who contribute to your success.
At the moment you feel you have business taped and you know how to do it you are in a dangerous space because there is someone hungrier who’s coming up behind you.
We are at our best when we are uncomfortable and being challenged by the environment or our circumstances. We are most creative during these times.
At the moment you become comfortable look to grow – what can you do better? Can you double your production? Can you make customer interaction better? Whatever it is, challenge yourself and be uncomfortable with it. Don’t be complacent or settle for how things are