If you are looking for the technical business tips that can get you the leg up within your respective niche: look away. I know, that’s a harsh disclaimer to share at the beginning of the post, but entrepreneurship is about much more than just running a startup. Serial entrepreneurship–and most successful entrepreneurs are successful over and over again (and not afraid to fail; more on that later)–comes from always looking to do things differently from the conventional order, not just in business but in everyday life. Whether that is in the way they carry themselves, the way they interact or the way they think, entrepreneurship is a way of life.
At the end of the day, an entrepreneur is a creator and a problem solver. Entrepreneurs might share certain personality traits, but to become a successful business innovator you need to adopt the right habits. Here are 6 habits that will help you become a successful entrepreneur.
Be in the Habit of Writing
Write, write, write. Then write some more. If you really believe that this is not really your cup of tea, then you probably should start learning the skill as there is no way out in the modern word of startup and entrepreneurship. You SHOULD be in the habit of writing and formulating your thoughts on paper as you have to be a good communicator in order to become a successful entrepreneur.
No, I am not asking you to be a full fledged writer who knows all the ins and outs of writing, but you should be able to put down your thoughts and ideas so that editors within your organization can turn them into useful posts for the public (ie. future customers and investors).
Honing your writing skills in something as simple as a short email can have a dramatic effect on the connections you make and your ability to sell your ideas. If you are effective at putting your ideas into words, chances are more and more online and offline business magazines will allow and invite you to write in their magazine as a columnist which at the end of the day will help your business get more visibility and new targeted audience which leads to more business in the longer run.
Success never comes accidently; there are tons of magazines featuring new and successful startups every day. There are few if any startup owners who would say that they became successful accidently or that the journey from Zero to Million dollars was all accidental.
Without planning and proper execution, real success is simply impossible. A good way to start getting in the habit of making plans and executing them is to “sweat the small stuff.” Start today. Make a plan for the day and then tomorrow you can adjust that plan for the next day, and so on. Then make a plan for the week–maybe even pitch a guest post about a hot topic in the industry you want to build a startup in, and follow through until it’s placed and published. Soon you’ll be a master of plan-making.
In order to be a successful startup you have to have a plan about where you are as a business, your vision and mission, financial projections, profit margins and more. And creative direction takes planning too. You can always write this in a business plan and then use that plan as a bible for your business, adapting to new situations while always referring back to your core values and ideas.
Dedicate One Hour at least to Reading
This can include anything and nothing at the same time. You could be travelling through the subway reading the newspaper three articles per stop, or you could be waking up early and reading business books. The bottom line is that you dedicate at least some portion of your time to quality reading. Staying in touch with the news is always a plus, there are too many things going on that we feel don’t impact us but do in a very roundabout and indirect manner. Besides, if you are looking to be a problem solver then it is better to have a handle and know the kind of problem you are looking to solve.
Don’t just take in the words and think of it as an accomplishment, drink in the sentence and see if you can critically analyze it. It does not matter if you did not like what you read, but you should be able to think about it. Maybe you’ll even have new ideas for an industry you had barely even noticed before. Combining a daily reading and writing practice is at the heart of James Altucher’s popular tips for becoming an “idea machine”.
Successful entrepreneurs are not just critical in their own views; they have to take criticism as well. In fact, this is even more important. Think of it like this: you are the creator and whatever you do is aimed at solving something. Unless you welcome criticism, how will you find the best solutions? How will you be driven toward true innovation?
Everyone has opinions. If your ideas are any good, people who receive your work will have a thousand things to say about what you do. The mark is to develop a tough skin and listen to what everyone says. The criticism might be spot on or lousy, depending on a lot of things, but welcoming feedback is essential.
This doesn’t just apply to the iteration process. It also applies to running a business. There are numerous studies on how you can even convert the angriest of your customers into the biggest clients for your business, and all of that starts with the simple process of letting those around you have their say. Don’t get angry, build a better business. You never know; one of those “angry” voices might just give you something golden to think about.
You do not need to hang around people all the time or indulge in small talk excessively in order to become more social. In my experience, you can extract and learn a lot from a small number of useful interactions. Learning about different personality types and ways of working is just as important as learning what’s trending on social media or how to give a public speech and then respond to comments. To be a successful entrepreneur in any field, you need to understand different people in a variety of manners because you’ll be working with–and selling to–the entire range of people out there.
So what is the “be social” habit, exactly? It means taking a few hours a week to engage with people in a way that you find personally exciting, whether that means participating in a LinkedIn group or going to tech meetups. The benefits are endless.
Control your surfing
It’s good to keep in touch with social media and blogs when you are strolling through your free time. It is healthy to take that kind of break. But do yourself this favor: close or at least minimize your web browser when you are working on any serious task. The old proverb of “work fully when you actually are working” is a good one to remember here. I know that everyone’s attention span varies, but it’s important to note that multitasking doesn’t actually work.
How do I stay focused? I make a certain breakpoint for myself within a task, so if I am doing a coding project then I refuse to look away from the working screens unless I have completed one particular part of the logic within the code. It can be something as simple as making sure you write two hundred words or respond to 10 customer emails before taking a break. Before you know it you’ll be involved in the task and actually concentrating. The point is to introduce that structure within your working schedule so that you become more efficient as well. It’s a similar idea as the habit of making plans–start with smaller ones that are actually achievable, then expand from there.
Success in entrepreneurship never comes easily, but I hope that the habits I’ve outlined here will keep you inspired on your journey toward building smarter products and a better world. Start adopting these habits today and your chances of failure will instantly decrease. Plus, when things get tough you’ll already have some skills needed to deal with the rough time and come through them like a leader, rather than a follower.
What habits do you find particularly useful? Have I left anything out? Leave a comment here and let me know. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.