Zuckerberg. Gates. Jobs. All names that are associated with success, innovation and brilliance in the tech age; in essence they are the epitome of what an entrepreneur aspires to be. Recently Gallup conducted an assessment of 2,500 U.S. entrepreneurs and found certain characteristics to correlate with increased rates of success. The 10 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs are: business focus, confidence, creative thinker, delegator, determination, independent, knowledge-seeker, promoter, relationship-builder and risk-taker. So as you aspire to be successful, what can you do to improve your own business talents and in turn, make your business thrive? Here are 10 habits that’ll surely help you get on track.
- Relationship-builder: Working your connections, tactfully and effectively.
Growing up, ‘networking’ was just about the dirtiest word in my vocabulary. There was nothing that screamed ‘phony’ to me more than utilizing your connections for personal gain. However, as I’ve gotten older and decidedly more realistic, I’ve realized the importance of networking to propel you in the business world. It’s all about keeping active in your community; keeping open contact with your current contacts while actively pursuing new ones as well. With social media sites like Linkedin, networking has never been more convenient, but still, we could all use some common sense reminders from one of the entrepreneurial greats. Carnegie’s first chapter of his excellent book How to Win Friends and Influence People discusses how to engage people without being overly critical. The underlying theme is to not burn bridges, because who knows, you might need to work with that person again someday.
- Business focus: Setting and surpassing targets.
Setting targets, both financial and non-financial can keep your goals in perspective and can really motivate you to achieve. Just keep the big picture in mind, being completely goal oriented could potentially hurt your performance in the long-run. After all, a cut-throat mentality could lead to decrease in team morale.
- Confidence: Don’t fret; you too can be a confidence man or confidence woman.
While confidence seems to be inherent in some, and lacking in others, there are ways to improve your own self-confidence. For example, thought reconditioning is an essential tool in confidence boosting. Let’s be realistic, no one’s perfect. Know your strengths, and be proud of them. It’s even more important however to understand your weaknesses, so you can address and manage them. There’s no better way to improve one’s confidence than giving you more reason to be confident through learning, knowledge and training (more on that later-on).
Being aware of your senses can help fine-tune your creative juices. Studies have shown that certain types of music promote productivity and even creativity. Additionally, journaling can really help put your ideas into action. Since brainstorming can occur at anytime, try keeping a pocket-sized notebook with you.
- Delegator: Delegate, don’t micromanage.
While few business owners appreciated President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remark in 2012, it is true that collaboration is essential in a successful business. At some point you just have to realize you can’t do everything yourself. Foregoing some control in decision-making and allowing your team-members to personalize a project gives them ownership, which in turn increases their enthusiasm and motivation to complete the requested task effectively.
- Determination: Keep your goals in mind and in sight
Constantly remind yourself why you’re in business in the way of short-term and long-term goals and convey these to your team members. Stress can interfere with your determination levels so make sure you manage a good life and work balance to keep it in check.
- Independent: Be a jack of all trades
When first setting up a business it’s inevitable, you’ll be putting on many different hats and taking on a variety of tasks. Even after becoming established, maintaining this versatility is advantageous because it gives you a good perspective on all facets of your business. Besides, being an independent businessman or businesswoman will increase your confidence as an autonomous being.
- Knowledge-seeker: Read voraciously. Rinse, repeat.
As an entrepreneur you should know the ins and outs of the business environment you’re in and because the conditions are constantly changing, you should never stop learning. While formal class-work can help (see college level studies and/or local business/management/entrepreneurial workshops), due to your busy work schedule, it’s easy to substitute time wasted in front of the television with internet research or reading time to improve your breadth of knowledge.
- Promoter: Use 21st gen tech to your advantage.
In this day and age being active on a variety of social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and blogs) can be a sure-fire way to get noticed. Not all attention is good however so keep it classy-you may think those cheeky shots of tequila are a fun way to spend a Friday night, but your potential clientele may not.
10. Risk-taker: Take risks but don’t be reckless.
As a proprietor you’re naturally very familiar with risk-taking. But keep the gambling at the casino, all risk-taking in the entrepreneurial world should be calculated and well-thought out. When addressing a potentially risky decision think of the potential payoffs and consequences, then imagine the best case and worst case scenarios. Is the best-case scenario worth the potential risks you’re facing? If faced with your worst-case scenario how difficult would it be to accommodate for the setback?