Image credit: REUTERS | Francois Lenoir
Whether you have decided to start your first venture, or you’ve been running a company for a while now, you ought to take note of certain traits that all accomplished entrepreneurs share.
Long-term success, after all, is not due to luck or circumstance but is the product of hard work and dedication by the entrepreneur. Those who always seem to be ahead of the game, starting and growing successful start-ups that are sold for profit, or building small businesses into empires, all share a few specific qualities that everyone can learn and benefit from.
This might seem like an obvious trait, but you would be surprised by how many entrepreneurs start companies because they want to “get rich” but do not necessarily believe in the idea or love the product. You don’t have to be a “type A” personality to run a prosperous enterprise, or a workaholic who gives up every other aspect of his or her life. However, running a business is hard work, which is made less burdensome if you love what you do. The hours you put in to develop a start-up won’t feel like a chore you resent if running the company gives you purpose.
Managing a start-up often means you are one of only a small number of employees — if not the only employee. There will be no boss standing over you making sure things get done, no deadlines set by outside forces to spur you on and no immediate consequences if you decide to go see a movie instead of getting work done. However, while there may be no consequences — such as losing your job — there may still be repercussions. Your company will only be as successful as you make it, and that requires a firm commitment to producing quality work in a timely manner. Procrastination should be a foreign concept for you. As an entrepreneur, you must be driven to succeed, and that drive must come from inside yourself, not outside forces.
Before you do anything, sit down and plan your day, your week and for the current quarter, your company goals. Define what “success” means to you and do not use generalizations. Specify that in 90 days your business should “sell 10,000 units per week,” “have more than 100,000 daily visitors to the website” or “have a valuation of more than $1 million.” Create short-term plans with actionable tasks to help you reach smaller milestones along your start-up journey. You cannot build a highly profitable company overnight, so these should be your stair-steps on the path to reaching your long-term goals. Calculated entrepreneurs reverse-engineer success instead of wait for it to simply happen.
The most accomplished people never reach a point where they believe they have all the answers. They cultivate a network of peers with different specializations they can bounce ideas off of. They read articles and books on a regular basis to stay on top of emerging trends and industry best practices. They attend conferences, events and workshops to learn new skills and hone old ones.
Take Bill Gates, for example. He’s one of the most renowned entrepreneurs in our country — and also an unashamedly voracious reader. Some estimates put his pace at about a book a week — and his selections range from general business to history, to closer looks at subjects he finds interesting. While you don’t necessarily have to match his pace, his example is one all entrepreneurs should emulate. No matter how successful you or your business become, never assume you know everything, and always seek out opinions and ideas that challenge what you already know.
Whether you call it tenacity or stubbornness, all successful entrepreneurs refuse to call it quits. Every start-up will hit the occasional bump in the road — times when things do not go as planned, or outright fail. These are the times when the most brilliant businesspeople separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Smart entrepreneurs know that every failure and missed opportunity is a chance to learn something and grow, both personally and professionally. Instead of agonizing over mistakes, they analyze what went wrong, then put plans and policies in place to avoid repeats of those mistakes. They ignore naysayers who suggest it might be time to throw in the towel; they thrive in the face of adversity.
Entrepreneurship comes with few guarantees. In fact, only about 50 percent of all businesses survive the first five years. You can stack the odds in your favor, however, by studying those who tend to beat the odds. Soon enough, you will cultivate the same traits they possess, the ones that allow them to find success over and over again.