Successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: their habits. Regardless the industry, most entrepreneurs find success only after they form winning habits. While the movies might paint a picture of entrepreneurs that is glamorous and enviable, the truth is entrepreneur are people just like everyone else.
Psychological makeup and intelligence are important factors to long-term success but you may be surprised to find out that the common denominator amongst entrepreneurs is actually the simple tasks they do each and every day. Over time, these simple tasks add up. The end result? Wildly successful businesses that change the fabric of society.
Without further ado, let’s dive into what habits you should focus on forming if you hope to be a successful entrepreneur.
We all know the saying: “the early bird gets the worm”. Well it turns out successful entrepreneurs take this saying very literally. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs wake up long before the rest of the us, such as:
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: 3:45 am
- Starbucks President Michelle Gaas: 4:30 am
The main reason entrepreneurs tend to wake up so early is it gives them some time to think and take care of themselves while there are very few distractions. Entrepreneurs have very hectic and demanding work schedules. Having a few hours prior to this can lend itself to creative thinking, relaxation and a sense of accomplishment.
3:45 am may be too early for you. Heck, it is definitely too early for me! Evaluate what time you currently wake up and try to set your alarm 45 minutes early. Use that time strategically and see if it makes you more productive.
Start Day with Toughest Task
How to you decide which tasks to complete first each day? Typically, people identify the easiest tasks and complete them first. While you may feel productive as you complete these easier tasks, this strategy is actually less productive.
Successful entrepreneurs take the opposite approach. They identify the toughest task and tackle it immediately. Adopting this approach has several benefits, such as:
- A sense of accomplishment early in the day
- Important tasks don’t go uncompleted
- All tasks the rest of the day seem much easier
- Time Management Experts
Running a business can be hectic. It is common for entrepreneurs to feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Sometimes this actually is the case. Successful entrepreneurs have mastered the ability to manage their time, some down to the minute.
In order to do this, you must first plan out your day at least the night before. Identify what tasks will provide the most value and allocate your time accordingly.
P.S. Don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself!
Going along with the time management habit, successful entrepreneurs clearly define their priorities. More importantly, they stick to their priorities regardless the distractions they encounter throughout the day.
One simple way to accomplish this is to write down the 10 most important priorities for the day/week. Having these priorities written down and visible can make all the difference. When a potential distraction arises, look at your list and decide if it is a priority.
Certainly you know how important it is to exercise regularly. It is hard to go a day without hearing about it. This is in large part because we don’t work out enough. These successful individuals have exercise routines:
- Former President Barack Obama: 45 minutes of exercise, 6 days a week
- Billionaire Mark Cuban: 1 hour of cardio per day
- Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson: Works out to stay productive
Successful entrepreneurs however prioritize exercise and make sure they stay in great shape. Being an entrepreneur takes a toll on your body, both mentally and physically. Long hours and stressful days can begin to take a negative effect very quickly. Luckily through exercise you can minimize the negative effects. Remember all those famous entrepreneurs that wake up early? Most of them use some of that free time to exercise!
When is the last time you set goals? Successful entrepreneurs are constantly setting goals that are measurable and attainable. These goals may be related to their work or their personal life. One common theme amongst successful entrepreneurs when it comes to goals is how ambitious they are. Don’t be afraid to set some lofty goals to act as motivation. While you may not accomplish all of them, chances are they will still steer you towards success.
Much like your priorities, write your goals down and consider telling someone about them so they can hold you accountable.
Driven By Passion
As an entrepreneur, you are going to fail. This is a fact. Even the largest, most successful companies have experienced their fair share of failures. How do you stay positive and motivated in the face of failure? The answer is simple: passion.
Successful entrepreneurs choose work they are passionate about, while unsuccessful entrepreneurs rarely align their passions with their work. To an outsider, successful entrepreneurs often look super-human. They work long hours, often aren’t compensated much up front and persevere through even the toughest adversity. The key is they love what they do and they don’t consider it work. Identify your passion and identify a problem you can solve within that realm. You will be much more likely to succeed if you are deeply passionate about what you do.
Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of Huffington Post, says, “You have to really believe in your product to deal with the naysayers and persevere.” In other words, be passionate.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Excellence is doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well.” – John W. Gardner
Successful entrepreneurs understand that achieving extreme success doesn’t have to be complicated. However, as humans we tend to over complicate even the simplest tasks. We have already discussed how entrepreneurs define their priorities, manage their time efficiently and accomplish their toughest task first.
These same skills allow them to look at a problem most would make complex and instead simplify it in a way that ensures it is completable. Bill Gates famously said, ““I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” While neither myself or Bill is implying that successful entrepreneurs are lazy, we are implying that the ability to make the complex simple is a defining trait of successful entrepreneurs. Work smarter, not harder.
We spend most of our childhood learning. Attending school. Learning new sports. We are eager to learn and get great joy from new abilities.
Unfortunately as we get older, we tend to lose this appetite for learning. We stop reading or stop asking questions. This means we are accepting what we know and are not trying to expand our knowledge. Successful entrepreneurs never stop learning. Whether they are reading books, hiring mentors or simply trying new things, entrepreneurs understand the importance of constant learning. If they aren’t staying up to date with their knowledge, how can they possibly lead a company successfully? Pick up a book, attend an industry event, find a mentor. Never stop learning.
Have you ever spent time around a young child and been asked “why” a million times? Young children are extremely curious, something entrepreneurs can relate to. Most entrepreneurs stumble upon great ideas through curiosity. They question everything. Through these questions, they uncover opportunities.
A simple way to strengthen your curiosity muscle is to ask “why” as much as possible. At first this might seem weird or uncomfortable, but over time it will help you be more creative in your entrepreneurial endeavors.
Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs. One day you are on top of the world and the next day you are questioning why you ever went down this path. Successful entrepreneurs are extremely positive, finding the positives in even the worst situations. If you are a negative person, you will have a hard time succeeding as an entrepreneur.
While most people are planning or complaining, entrepreneurs are doing. Remove all fear. Remove all doubt. Take action. This is what successful entrepreneurs have learned. They don’t fear failure because they know they can learn from their failures. They don’t worry about doubt because they know it has no effect on reality.
Want to be an entrepreneur? Take action! There will never be a perfect time. You will always have doubts.
“It’s all about who you know.” Everyone has heard this before. Maybe you have even used it as an excuse for why you aren’t as successful as you had hoped. What successful entrepreneurs learn is that you can control who you know.
By attending networking events and adopting a “networking mindset”, successful entrepreneurs are able to improve their connections. We can’t control our upbringing. Some people were lucky to be born into families that had connections. For the rest of us, stop complaining and start networking. No one can keep you from forming relationships.
Study The Market
Entrepreneurship isn’t about crazy ideas. It is all about capitalizing on a need. In order to identify these needs, you must study the market. Pay attention to what people complain about regularly and think about how you could solve these issues. Pay attention to the news and identify emerging opportunities. Uber, AirBnb and Amazon are all examples of entrepreneurs that studied the market and identified needs. Start studying.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customers. Our goal is to be the world’s most customer-centric company.”
Focus On Strengths
Most of our childhood we are taught in school to be well-rounded. We are always trying to improve our weaknesses, so we can get better grades. Successful entrepreneurs take a different approach. They focus on their strengths and delegate any tasks that do not play into their strengths.
This is counter-intuitive for most people and takes time to master. Start by auditing your skills and weaknesses. Next, find help that is good at what you aren’t. No successful entrepreneur did it alone.