By Donny Gamble
Venture capitalists, academics, psychologists and economists alike have long wondered what are the secrets of successful entrepreneurs. What makes these people so different from others who often struggle to succeed? Some suggest it is because they enjoy taking risks.
Others say that it is down to their drive and ambition. But the big question is whether successful entrepreneurs have any traits or habits that anyone can adopt and thereby make themselves successful as well.
Extensive research has been completed in order to identify the 16 habits all successful entrepreneurs share. And one of the great things about it is that these are indeed behaviors and attitudes that can be adopted by others, helping them achieve success as well.
1. Celebrate the little successes
The root of personal development lies in setting goals and achieving them. Although all entrepreneurs are full of confidence in their own skills and abilities, this does not mean they can’t publicly congratulate themselves on their successes as well. This is also very important if they work with other people, who need the recognition they deserve as well.
Indeed, a good entrepreneur understands how to build a team and how to be responsible for each member of this team. By highlighting the elements of success, and giving team members ownership of that achievement, they increase engagement and ensure staff has loyalty towards the company and the common goal. When a goal has been set by an entrepreneur, they will celebrate the achievement of that ultimate goal.
By achieving the little successes or the completion of the small steps that have to be taken in order to achieve that ultimate goal, they build team spirit and make it more likely for those final goals to be reached.
2. Create a regimented schedule
Any successful entrepreneur is on a consistent schedule. Setting this schedule is something only you can do, as only you can decide how much time you want to spend on each of the things that matter to you. However, there should be clarity about what you are doing and when, and you must be consistent with that.
If you have set yourself the task of having a team meeting every Monday morning, for instance, you should never deviate from that. It is also important to understand that time must be made for personal things. Various tools are used for this, although a popular one is to take three containers (work, social life, personal life) and 24 smarties or other snacks (one for each hour of the day) and to divide these in terms of what a day currently looks like, and of what a day should look like in an ideal situation.
It goes without saying that good entrepreneurs always have their diary with them as well, and that there is clarity in this diary in terms of when they are and aren’t available.
3. Overwhelming self belief
Entrepreneurs are hugely confident and honestly believe that they will succeed in what they are planning to do. Often, this means taking huge risks, such as taking out large loans even when there is a possibility of things not working out the way they should.
It is only by believing that the first customer will come through the door, or that the first online purchase is made and followed by many others, that an entrepreneur is able to take these risks and be successful. Indeed, success is about knowing not just that you can make it, but that you will make it and that you deserve to make it. But it is important to not fall into the trap of arrogance as a result of this.
4. Set 3 specific goals weekly and monthly
Entrepreneurs also know exactly where they want to go and when they want to get there. They do this by setting specific weekly and monthly goals. Three goals are realistic and achievable. It is very important to not take part in any tasks that do not help towards achieving those goals. They can wait until the next goal-setting session.
5. Spend money to make money
Money has to be seen as a tool to make even more money. It is about understanding what and where to invest in and spend money on, in order to see returns on investment and profits in the quickest possible time.
Successful entrepreneurs do not spend any profit they make on things they like for themselves like luxury items, at least not until much further down the line. Instead, they purchase assets that can increase in value over time. A successful entrepreneur does not see money as a utility to support life, in other words.
6. Find solutions to problems
A good entrepreneur does not see an obstacle as a problem but rather as a challenge. To be successful, you must think of how to make your ideas work, rather than thinking about all the reasons why something may not work. An obstacle is there to be overcome, rather than something that makes you give up.
7. Plan tomorrow’s agenda today
Entrepreneurs are always one step ahead. Anything that presents itself in the here and now is resolved quickly before moving on. As such, they have to be ready today for what they will face tomorrow, so that they can indeed resolve anything that shows itself in their path.
8. Learn skills that are worth money in the real world
A good entrepreneur also understands that their biggest investment is themselves. They should always acquire new skills that they can turn into money. It is about understanding the future and thinking about the skills that you need in order to meet future demand.
9. Never stop selling
The needs of customers change constantly. This means that a product or service you may have offered yesterday is no longer relevant today. However, you still have to sell it. Hence, when there is a strong demand, customers will come to you, but when demand is low, you must sell it to customers again. This process never stops and any contact you have with people, the media, other companies and so on is an opportunity to sell.
Additionally, entrepreneurs do not focus overly strongly on traditional “marketing.” Within the definition of marketing, the suggestion is that a customer has to have seen an advertisement between 6 and 10 times before they are ready to buy. A successful entrepreneur does not have time to wait for this and are ready to sell in the here and now.
10. Exercise regularly
Entrepreneur also think about themselves personally. They know how important it is to remain fit and healthy. As such, they always take part in regular physical exercise. Exercise is a great way to get rid of stress hormones, which are often at a higher level in busy entrepreneurs.
Additionally, it is a fantastic opportunity to reflect and to think about how things can be achieved, improved or overcome. Finally, exercising can also be a great networking opportunity.
11. Know how and when to delegate tasks
One of the most difficult things an entrepreneur has to do is delegate. Senior managers often have less difficulty with this, as they simply have to ensure that a certain job gets done. However, entrepreneurs have a real sense of ownership in everything that they do, and it can be very hard to take this out of their hands and into the hands of someone else.
However, good entrepreneurs are able to recognize that they hand-picked the people they are delegating to for their skills and knowledge. They also understand how important it is for them to be able to focus on the bigger picture, while asking someone else to look at the small, somewhat more insignificant details.
12. Surround themselves with champions & innovators
A good entrepreneur finds true happiness in the success of others. These successes – and failures for that matter – are opportunities for them to learn themselves. Additionally, entrepreneurs network. They understand that fortunes are not made alone, but rather thanks to connections with other successful people. Having those links with champions and innovators is a perfect opportunity to build on that.
13. Join mastermind Groups
Masterminds are hugely important and they add tremendous value to the skills and knowledge of the successful entrepreneur. Good entrepreneurs are very much aware of the limitations of what they know and they spend time to learn from the best.
A mastermind is an opportunity to enhance those skills and to network with others. It is a chance to learn from the best, from people who have proven successes, and to implement that knowledge in business tasks.
14. Know how to focus
Two of the biggest assets an entrepreneur has are time and attention. It is all too easy to lose focus, thereby also losing these two assets. You must be able to focus, to organize your day and to be completely intolerant of any inefficiency. Time is money, after all, so both need to be focused on. It is about making sure that you know where your attention needs to be, rather than squandering it on unimportant and time-consuming details.
Persistence is, by far, the biggest secret weapon entrepreneurs have. An example that is often used to demonstrate this is the success of General Ulysses S. Grant and his attempts to get through to Vicksburg. He tried and failed in attacking head on and he tried and failed to attack by going around. He also attempted to change the course of the river itself, trying to float into the city.
None of his attempts worked, but he persisted until he found the tactic that did work, and he did. What entrepreneurs can learn from this is that they have to set themselves a goal and persist until they have achieved that goal. The only thing they should change is the method they use towards achieving it, and not the goal itself.
Changing the goalpost is one of the worst ideas and no entrepreneur would ever do that. They thrive in the face of adversity and see any failure as an opportunity to improve. Recent research has shown that “performance persistence,” as it is known, is hugely important in the success of any enterprise. If entrepreneurs can persist through the trials of a start up business, they can make the idea a success.
16. Understand how to generate cash flow
Cash flow is what makes a business tick. Cash – money – is the be all and end all of a successful enterprise. It is the measure of success, in fact. Hence, successful entrepreneurs understand cash flow. They know what is coming in and what is going out, understand eventualities and unexpected bills and know what their financial projections are.
This means they have a great understanding of where money is coming from (sales, proceeds, assets and investments) and where money is going to (expenditures, repayments, purchases, withdrawals). Additionally, they understand how these elements relate to the three main parts of a business. These are, firstly, the operating costs of a business; secondly, the investment costs of a business; and, thirdly, the financing of a business.
Operating activities is where the biggest amount of money should be coming from as well as where most of the money should be going. Good entrepreneurs also understand how to measure the health of their activities through cash flow statements.
These are the 16 habits all successful entrepreneurs usually sign up to. There are many other habits and behaviors that are important, but these 16 are absolutely vital. Very few of these skills are skills that you must be born with.
Although it is certainly beneficial to have a natural flair for these habits, they can be learned if you have struggled with them in the past. After all, entrepreneurs understand their own skills and always attempt to improve them, either by training or by learning from others. The effects of this on your next or current venture are tremendous and will certainly make you more fruitful.
Donny Gamble Jr. is founder of Personalincome.org, a published author, and investor. He graduated from The Ohio State University and has a passion for teaching others about alternative investment and retirement strategies. He has a contributor for HuffPost and have been featured on Yahoo Finance as well as other personal finance websites. Follow him at @personalincome.