There’s no definitive formula for success. However, as entrepreneurs, we don’t really need a formula.
Many people dream of being an entrepreneur. They envision their business as majorly successful; allowing them to make enormous wealth, be the boss, have the freedom to come and go as they please and work how and when they want. If only this were the reality, everyone would be an entrepreneur! Unfortunately, this is not the experience for most. Being an entrepreneur can be tremendously rewarding, but it is hard work.
On average, entrepreneurs work harder and put in longer hours than their employees, while taking on much more risk.
The failure rate of new businesses is estimated to be between 30 percent and 70 percent within the first two years.
Despite the odds, thousands of people launch new businesses every year. Some will be wildly successful, some will muddle along to sustainability and others will fail. While luck cannot be overlooked, success for a new business is mostly the result of the vision, effort and ability of the founding entrepreneur.
Here are the six common qualities I’ve found among the entrepreneurs I try to model myself after. This isn’t the definitive list nor the only important qualities. These are just the ones I think you can take the most away from right now. With each quality, I’ll show you a successful entrepreneur that possesses it and how you emulate them and apply that quality today.
Arianna Huffington faced rejection after rejection when trying to publish her second book, After Reason. However, Arianna did not give up. When she was 23 years old, she was rejected by 36 publishers before her book was finally published.
Years later, in 2003, Arianna ran for governor of California in the California gubernatorial recall race. However, after seeing only 2 percent support in early polls, Arianna dropped out of the race. Despite this, and seeing the power of the internet through her fundraising campaign, two years later she launched HuffingtonPost.com, which later sold to AOL.com in 2011 for $315 million.
My mother said failure was a stepping stone to success
Arianna understood the importance of perseverance despite her failures and roadblocks. A successful entrepreneur knows that failures and rejections are not signs for stopping but instead signs to keep pushing forward and persevering.
Begin looking at failures and roadblocks as learning experiences and stepping stones. Remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it. You will encounter failures, setbacks and other obstacles. But that’s okay. Persevering despite the struggle is one of the most rewarding experiences for entrepreneurs.
Perseverance is an attribute needed to maintain and sustain a reputable quality of life. This mental capacity is a direct correlation between failure and success. Reacting accordingly to situations is a decision required to progress. Accepting the bad, and learning from these tough lessons is what brings sweetness. You cannot expect a serious form of goodness without receiving the bitter fruit. Life always has a balance, and if you make informed decisions, then your good days will always outweigh your bad. Letting silly things become a nuisance, is a form of irritability that must be desecrated.
The Golden Rule
Patience is a virtue that isn’t spoken about too frequently; it’s mentioned with a blatant disregard for the creative process. Life is a waiting game when it pertains to making any sort of respectable accomplishment. But what are you willing to do while you’re waiting? Having a positive outlook will certainly avail more than just being pessimistic, these thoughts need an action plan behind them. There are many trials and tribulations that must be endured. So, are you willing to concentrate on your goals and push through all of the nonsense? These are the healthy questions you must consistently ask yourself, in order to be truly patient.
Failure Is Inevitable
We are all a work in progress, and learning is part of our sojourn. We know very little about the vast intricacies of the world, but if we can stick to our domain, then success will be granted. Challenges aren’t meant to be complained about; they are designed solely to be met. Backing down from difficulties will only result in failure, but if you get back up after a fall, the potential is limitless.
Innovation Is Like A Plug
The electricity and energy exerted when brainstorming new ideas to implement is a key to start the ignition. Automobiles won’t run smoothly without gas, and ideas are the fuel that keeps you moving forward. The term is called a brainstorm because the volatility of an idea isn’t certain. And you won’t know what will work until you put it to the test. The old adage of not knocking something until you try it applies to the vehicle of innovation. Permit your imagination to run wild; let it gallivant through an enchanted forest.
Broaden Your Horizons
Shooting for a target may not always be reached on the first attempt, and aiming higher next time can make the biggest difference. Life isn’t meant to continue trying the same things over and over again. Diversity is a natural human element, and adding it into your business model can penetrate barriers you weren’t aware of.
Prepare For The Worst
The cost of running a business is the most taxing expense, so preparing for the worst is needed. When the business is afloat, doing well, and gathering a profit; set aside finances to fund your business for the upcoming months. There’s no real stability in any job we create, and having a surplus of capital to invest back into a business must be available at all times. Entrepreneurs are responsible for the livelihood of others, and without putting them first, the karmic retribution can be catastrophic.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone and the number of hours you work is much more than your standard day job. But if you understand the reality of what’s necessary to succeed, then you will fight for it every single day. We all have dreams that we’d love to live, and chasing after them is the only way to be truly content. Completing the vision is an imperative notion, and watching your visions manifest into reality is an ineffable sensation.
2. Self-improvement and always learning
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is known for being someone who learns very fast. Before Elon Musk started the SpaceX program, according to Esquire’s interview, he read and consumed as many rocketry and propulsion books as possible to learn how to build rockets.
When Elon Musk participated in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, one user asked how Elon is capable of learning so much in such a short amount of time. Elon replied “one bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree—make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”
I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.
Even with Elon’s success with PayPal and Tesla, and all of his accumulated experience, he understood he would have to learn about rockets and rocket propulsion systems if he wanted to be a competent leader of a space flight company.
Successful entrepreneurs strive to learn more. A part of this is realizing that no matter how successful you are or how much you think you might know, there’s always an opportunity to learn more and work on your personal growth.
Start reading more, listening to more podcasts, and watching more YouTube videos on subjects that can help grow your business. Put together a regiment and daily routine where you set aside an hour a day to work on yourself and becoming a more knowledgeable entrepreneur.
Take this enriching journey of self-improvement in a positive light. The idea is not to get demotivated along the way and lose hope. You should instead take full responsibility of yourself and strive to go beyond your preconceived notions that might be limiting you and this can only be achieved with constant self-improvement.
Here are 12 reasons why self-improvement is important irrespective of your age:
We spend so much time getting to know other people and solve their issues. If only we spent that much time knowing ourselves, things would have been so much more different. Isn’t it?
The first step of self-improvement requires you to become more self-aware and get to know yourself better. It makes you question yourself and face reality for what it is, however harsh it might be.
Self-awareness is an ongoing journey – as life progresses, you are met with different experiences and challenges, which make you more aware of your personality, thoughts and feelings. So, in order to be on the path of self-improvement, it is important to never lose touch with yourself.
Self-improvement lets you identify your personal strengths and play on them. From relationships to careers – knowing your strengths is important for every sphere of your life.
It gives you a better understanding of what you are seeking and where you are likely to thrive and excel. It helps you set life goals and make them happen. After all, you can only achieve what you want when you KNOW what you want.
By nurturing and playing on your strengths, you are more likely to attain success and move towards shaping a happier and more productive life.
While identifying strengths is an important aspect of self-improvement, so is coming to terms with your weaknesses. Don’t be ashamed of them, look at them as areas of improvement. We all have strengths and weaknesses that shape our personality. It is these imperfections that make us human.
The goal of improving yourself should be to look beyond those weaknesses that are stopping you from achieving greatness. Accept your weaknesses, identify where they stem from and be determined to overcome them.
It’s not easy but it’s certainly not impossible. Let your journey of self-improvement turn every weakness into a strength and only take you upward.
Step out of Comfort Zone
The ‘comfort zone’ is a dangerous place to be in. It surely feels good, but it also denotes stagnancy and where there is stagnancy, you can never find growth.
Choosing to work on improving yourself requires you to step out of your comfort zone. It lets you face your fears, try new things, take risks and challenge yourself. There will be times when you will discover a new side of your personality but there will also be times when you will fail.
Don’t let those failures bog you down. The fact that you tried should motivate you to never get complacent and too comfortable in familiar spaces because as they say, life begins outside your comfort zone.
Improve Mental Health
One of the biggest importance of self-improvement is the positive impact it has on mental health. When you work on yourself, you get to know yourself better which lets you deal with your thoughts and emotions more effectively. You begin to understand why you are experiencing certain emotions and learn how to tackle them with time.
Someone who is not self-aware and not focused on improving themselves will have absolutely no control over their reactions which can lead to added stress and anxiety. Being in denial is never the answer.
When you work on improving yourself, you automatically improve your relations with those around you. For example, if your short-tempered nature has always been a cause of concern in your relationships, by consciously working on that aspect of your personality, you learn how to tame your anger and become calmer. This positive change reflects in your personal and professional relationships and enhances them.
The key to combat conflicts and build meaningful relationships starts with looking inward and developing yourself first. Moreover, when you strive to become a self-sufficient person and have a positive self-image, you are bound to nurture healthy relationships.
Imagine climbing up a mountain – every hurdle you cross, motivates you to go higher. The same analogy holds true when it comes to self-improvement. Every fear and weakness you overcome motivates you to continue on the path of self-improvement and evolve further.
Self-improvement and motivation go hand in hand. When you see yourself developing as a human being, you are filled with optimism and the drive to push yourself to do better. It is a continuous cycle that needs you to maintain your motivation levels and be committed to continuous growth.
Better Decision Making
We are required to make decisions at every step in our lives and every decision has a repercussion. Moreover, it is not about making decisions as much as it is about being confident about the decision taken.
Good decision making skills come from a place of clarity, self-awareness and confidence which is a direct result of self-improvement. When you know what you want to achieve out of a situation and set your goals accordingly, you are able to make better, informed decisions.
Sense of Purpose
Deciding to walk the path of self-improvement and personal development gives your life purpose and meaning. Why is that important, you ask? It’s because it helps you stay focused on your life goals, makes you feel alive and keeps you motivated. It improves mental and physical well-being by keeping you on the right track.
With a sense of purpose, you learn to accept all the challenges that come along the way because you have your eyes set on what really matters – the ‘bigger picture’.
With all the distractions one is bombarded with, mental clarity is a tough state to attain. However, when you make self-improvement the primary goal of your life, you begin to start becoming more authentic and removing the clutter from your life.
Gaining clarity lets you stay focused and not engage in anything that takes you away from your goal. That said, there will be moments of confusion and indecisiveness but with experience, you will grow to become more surer of yourself while gaining clarity about your life.
Instill a Learning Attitude
People who are invested in their continuous self-improvement come with an extremely positive attitude towards learning. It shows that they are aware of their shortcomings and are open to receiving feedback in order to improve.
Instead of being ignorant and escaping from their problems, they make it a point to learn from their mistakes to grow and succeed.
This is a wonderful quality to have as having a learning attitude is instrumental in achieving success.
Last but not the least, self-improvement cultivates self-love and compassion. By seeing yourself grow with every passing day, you build on your confidence and self-esteem.
Many might debate that if you love yourself why must you want to change but that’s not true. Self-improvement is not changing yourself out of frustration. It is more about focusing on what matters to you and overcoming any mental hurdles that might be stopping you from reaching your highest potential .
So, whether you are a retired 65-year old or a 26-year old who is just starting off his/her career – remember that you will always be work in progress and there can never be an end to learning about yourself. That is what makes life purposeful and fun.
Bill Gates risked his future when he dropped out of Harvard when only 20 years old, to co-found the software company, Microsoft.
From Bill Gates’ book, “Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System”, Bill describes his risk-taking as “to win big, sometimes you have to take big risks. Big bets mean big failures as well as successes. Today, looking back, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft’s current success was inevitable. But at the time we made our big bets, including starting the company as the first personal computer software firm, most people thought we would fail.”
Business is a money game with few rules and a lot of risk.
What are the things you are most afraid of doing that has the potential to grow your business the most or put you on the most direct path to where you want to be? One way to overcome the fear of taking risks is simply through exposure. Entrepreneur.com suggests surrounding yourself with other risk-takers. To break out of your comfort zone, and start taking more risks with your business, spend more time with people who encourage you, not the ones who think you will fail.
You need to embrace risk as an entrepreneur, as long as you do so in a responsible and informed way. In order to achieve true success, you must rely on innovation and use new ideas to achieve your goals. There are many reasons why entrepreneurs should take risks, so read on to learn why you should be willing to risk your business in order to pursue something new.
You don’t know unless you try
When it comes to business, maybe your company is doing alright. You’re making ends meet and you’re an entrepreneur, so you feel good. However, there’s likely a chance that your business could be doing much better and as an entrepreneur, you can envision it. Without taking a risk, you’ll never know how great your company could be. While you shouldn’t risk everything you’ve worked for, if you take a calculated risk, you could push your company toward even more success.
It leads to true innovation
Companies would never develop new methods or products if they didn’t take risks. Taking risks allows true innovation to occur instead of simply doing what companies have always done and never building on those traditions or making new ones. Innovation is what pushes industries forward and entrepreneurs are often the ones at the head of the pack when it comes to innovative ideas.
You’ll always learn from it
You’ll learn something valuable when you take a risk, regardless of whether you succeed or fail. Even if you fail with your risk, learn from the experience. Identify where you went wrong and what could have been done differently, then use this knowledge the next time you take a calculated risk. If your risk succeeds, you’ll have your success and also understand what worked well and helped you reach a new goal for your business. Do not let failure get you down; it’s a natural part of being an entrepreneur and it just means you need to keep working hard.
Risks should always be calculated
An important piece of advice to remember is that while taking risks is definitely something you should do as an entrepreneur, it’s equally important to make sure those risks are calculated. Avoid taking unnecessary risks and not thinking through a plan or decision beforehand. Determine how much financial or personal risk you can invest in a new idea and avoid making any decisions that could ruin your company and entrepreneurial aspirations.
Howard Schultz’s leadership helped quickly turn Starbucks around when it was on the brink of failure in 2008, during a massive recession. In an interview with London Business Forum, Howard Schultz talked a lot about leadership and what it took for him to revive Starbucks. One of the most notable things Howard says in this interview is “leaders need to be decisive, and you have to be willing to make decisions without perfect information.”
I think the currency of leadership is transparency, you’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.
Leadership means being decisive and executing on the things that lead to the growth and betterment of your business. If you have employees or people that you work with, part of being a leader is also explaining how and why the decision is made.
Taking initiative and taking responsibility (and ownership of problems) are two things you can start doing now to work to develop your leadership skills.
The good news is that simple things work best with people, says BDC Business Consultant, Rony Israel. Israel believes that a short definition of leadership should look like this: “The ability to lead by example while communicating, mobilizing, sharing and delegating.”
Here are seven key leadership skills all business owners should develop.
Develop a strategic vision
Passion and a great business idea aren’t enough to succeed in business, Israel says. You need a strategy for your company. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.
Communicate with transparency
Share successes and failures with your people. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
Israel, who has more than 30 years of business experience, says that plans, strategies and results should never be left on paper, collecting dust. “If you are making money, your employees should know about it and be rewarded,” he says. “This will motivate them and your company will continue to grow. The success of the company isn’t yours alone, it belongs to your team.”
On the other hand, if the company is facing problems, your employees will be a valuable source of ideas on how to improve things.
Spot and retain the best talent
Your business is as successful as the people working in it. Great leaders who created successful companies have one thing in common: They surround themselves with talented, courageous, loyal people. Once you have recruited them, invest in their development through training and coaching.
Know how and when to delegate
Entrepreneurs by nature have a healthy ego, Israel says. “When it comes to their company, almost all entrepreneurs will say: Nobody can do it better than me.”
But those who are going to be successful are those who admit they can’t be the CEO, the chief financial officer, the marketing director and the sales manager at the same time. They share, delegate and empower their teams.
Lead by example
Be honest and ethical in everything you do. Have strong values. Live what you are preaching.
Ask for advice
No matter how well you know your industry, change is reshaping business so fast that entrepreneurs develop blind spots or become uncertain about how to proceed.
Israel, who created and developed seven businesses over the years, says these experiences taught him it pays to seek out impartial, professional advice. “The first line I always put in a budget was $10,000 for a business adviser. You can pretend you know everything about business, but keep in mind that innovation never stops, and it is easy to be left behind.”
Leadership should start at the top of the organization, but leaders don’t necessarily come from positions of power. They can be found at all levels in an organization. Identify them and help them to develop their leadership skills.
The transfer of knowledge through mentoring allows you to build a strong leadership pipeline in your company.
5. Hustle and tremendous work ethic
Even while Oprah Winfrey hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, she was not shy to take on other projects. She appeared in 12 movies and cameoed and produced dozens of other TV shows, movies and documentaries. Oprah took on many different projects, all while keeping her show at the top of TV ratings and winning awards, including 9 Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show.
Even after the series finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011, Oprah continues and continued to be a media mogul with her own television network, Oxygen, her own channel, OWN, a magazine, a website, a XM satellite radio channel and several more movies and television show cameos.
The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.
Success requires a little bit of grit and hustle. In Oprah’s case, her success came from how she built up her personal brand. She hustled to put herself on nearly every channel available to her without sacrificing quality.
How many platforms can you put your business and brand on? Get active and use the channels available, to bring awareness to your brand.
Go out there and work for it. Don’t be passive or wait for the traffic to come to you. You need to go out there and proactively market your product and proactively make a name for yourself. Nobody is responsible for your success besides you.
When Steve Jobs returned to a failing Apple in 1996, he saw that Apple was losing focus on what made them successful and great. By 1997, Steve reduced Apple’s product line from 350 to just 10.
At a developer’s conference in 1997, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying “When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”
Around this time, Steve Jobs had to make a lot of tough decisions to kill off a lot of the products and projects Apple was involved in. Apple’s poor management caused the company to spread itself out too thin. Steve noticed this and began to focus the company which inevitably helped Apple be the powerhouse brand and company that it is today.
When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.
Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of focusing and not spreading themselves out too thin or allowing their business to lose focus from its’ original vision.
Take time to step outside of yourself and your business and see where you have started to lose focus. A simple strategy to employ is to keep it simple. Focus on making the best one product instead of making 10 “okay” products. Focus on growing the best ecommerce business in one industry instead of trying to decently serve several niches.
Read more about staying focused through the article below
Whether you’re working from home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic or you’re already a full-time freelancer or on a distributed team, remote work can come with unique challenges. Especially if you’re not used to it, it can be tough to channel the same level of focus that you might have in an office setting. And when you’re suddenly away from the rest of your team, a lack of collaboration and connection can be difficult to navigate.
Stand on the shoulders of giants
You don’t have to adopt all of these qualities today, just the ones you resonated the most with. Does your business feel unfocused? Work on your focus. Are you not grinding enough? Start hustling more to get your business and products out there.
Entrepreneurs are not born with these qualities, they learn and adopt them through mentors, influencers and their own personal experience. You can start today to do the same to be a better entrepreneur and business leader.Let me know which quality resonated the most with you in the comments below. If you feel like there’s an important entrepreneurial quality that I missed, let me know as well. I engage and respond with all comments.
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