Life as an entrepreneur is enriching, freeing, exciting… And hard. Forming your own business and sticking with it is probably one of life’s greatest challenges—and one of its greatest accomplishments. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need the right attitude, the right approach, and effective daily habits that will keep you motivated and productive.
The 15 habits below should be a part of every entrepreneur’s manifesto:
1. Believe in yourself.
Though it may sound cliché, the old adage that states “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will” is especially relevant for entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, believing in yourself will reap benefits that go far beyond being able to give yourself a motivational pep-talk each day (as valuable as that is). In order to effectively sell your business idea to investors and market your product or service to consumers, you need to believe wholeheartedly in your own mission. You have to know, above all else, that you have something of value to offer this world—something that no one’s effectively done before.
Try writing down what makes your business idea great so that you can easily refer to this information when the going gets tough. Why is your product or service superior? How do you hope to change your industry for the better? How is your company adding value to society as a whole? Knowing the answers to these questions is integral to your success.
2. Always stay positive.
When most people hear the phrase, “Always stay positive,” they immediately think of trying to ignore obvious problems. They think of forcing themselves to keep smiling no matter how bad things have gotten.
Let’s clear up that misconception: Positivity, when applied in an entrepreneurial context, is something else entirely. Being positive in the world of business can be defined as the “consistent application of solutions-oriented thinking.” It relies on honestly acknowledging problems and challenges that lie on the road ahead, but rather than panicking or giving in to despair, maintaining a belief in the idea that these issues can be overcome. A positive entrepreneur is one who never stops looking for ways to fix problems, even if that requires experimenting with unproven, unorthodox methods. Indeed, this “inventor’s spirit” is the hallmark of almost every successful independent businessman and businesswoman.
3. Develop a fearless mindset.
Those who fear failure are poor innovators because they don’t take creative risks—they feel that it’s “safer” to stick with the status quo. Because entrepreneurs have to rely on their ingenuity to survive, having a fearless mindset is therefore absolutely essential. Stop worrying about “what ifs” and start allowing yourself to make mistakes; just make sure you learn from them.
How do you develop such a mindset? According to Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, NYT writer and author of the book Originals (which delved into the minds of many famously successful entrepreneurs), the best entrepreneurs all have one trait in common: They fear inaction more than they fear action. To put it in simpler terms, they worry more about the regret that comes with not having tried than they fear failure. This means that while they don’t literally “not feel” fear, they feel it in a prioritized way that allows them to overcome its limiting aspects. To become fearless, you therefore need to learn to ask yourself, “How will I feel in five years if I don’t take this risk? Will I regret it?”
4. Be intentional and proactive.
As an entrepreneur, you can’t sit around and wait for solutions to come to you. There is no boss or manager you can turn to for advice. Similarly, no one is going to come along and hand you projects—you have to get out there and find them.
To run your own business, you have to be intentional and proactive. This means both planning out each day comprehensively and having a long-term game plan. Make lists of tasks you need to complete in the near (and distant) future, make sure your schedule is realistic, and stick to it.
5. Ask yourself (and any staff you may have) relevant and insightful questions.
In order to make your company the best it can be, you should routinely ask yourself and your staff challenging and inspiring questions. These questions should focus on the value your company is offering (and how to improve it), how to become more agile and competitive, and what direction your products, services, or brand image should take. Some examples of relevant questions to ask yourself and your team are as follows:
- “How can we become the company that would put us out of business?” -Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group
- “Are we relevant? Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten?” -Debra Kaye, innovation consultant and author
- “If energy were free, what would we do differently?” -Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos (This question can be adapted to fit other resources as applicable, e.g., “What would we do if storage were free?”)
- “What is it like to work for me?” -Robert Sutton, author and management professor at Stanford
- “If we weren’t already in this business, would we enter it today? And if not, what are we going to do about it?” -Peter Drucker, management expert and author
- “Are we changing as fast as the world around us?” -Gary Hamel, author and management consultant
- “Who uses our product in ways we never expected?” -Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne, authors and strategy consultants
6. Stay focused on your goals.
When you run your own business, staying focused on long term goals is not always easy. Why? There are perpetually dozens of “little things” (and big things) to attend to every day and most entrepreneurs are short-staffed. This means that small business owners have to wear many hats; they must act as directors, managers, developers, and so on. Naturally, when balancing all of these tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused—and lose sight of what really matters.
To prevent this from happening, set up a large, visible display area (like a white board) and write out your long term goals, along with charted paths detailing the steps you need to take to achieve them. If you employ staff, make sure to meet with them regularly in order to discuss how the organization is progressing toward its goals.
To simplify this process, make sure your goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula: They should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
7. Surround yourself with smart people (and build a great team over time.)
One of the greatest myths of entrepreneurship is the idea that starting your own business means going it alone. In reality, one of the easiest ways to fail as an entrepreneur is to shut yourself away in your office and try to handle everything yourself. As alluded to in point six, the more jobs a business owner tries to handle on his or her own, the more scattered he or she becomes, and the easier it is to lose sight of the bigger picture (and make a lot of careless errors along the way). As soon as you can hire staff, you should—and you should prioritize quality over budget concerns. Ideally, you want to build a strong team that will grow with your business while helping your business grow.
Even if you aren’t ready to employ staff (or the nature of your business is simply better suited to being a “solopreneur”), that doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself from others in your field. On the contrary—you should find alternative ways to network. This will help you remain creative, innovative, and motivated. After all, when do we get most of our best ideas? When we start discussing problems and solutions with others… And what’s the best way to get motivated again after hitting a slump? When you start talking to other people who share your dreams and passions.
If you’re a solopreneur, you should therefore attend industry events (such as conventions) or consider holding your own events each month. You can also create a shared workspace with others in your field; this practice, called “coworking,” has become quite popular in recent years.
8. Work hard each day.
One of the most common traps new entrepreneurs fall into is the temptation to procrastinate. Accustomed to years of invasive or tyrannical bosses and managers snooping on their every activity, new business owners revel in the rebellious pleasure of being able to work in their PJs, surf the web whenever they please, and so on. The problem with this approach is that entrepreneurs have to work many, many times harder than your average nine-to-five employee if they want to succeed.
Avoid the tendency to lapse into poor time management by creating a workday schedule for yourself and sticking to it. Get up at the same time each day and work for the same amount of hours, with a couple of breaks and a lunch hour provided for some much-needed relaxation and refreshment.
9. Be grateful.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, life as an entrepreneur can be difficult. You’ll probably experience some extremely lean periods, especially in the beginning. It’s easy, when this happens, to get bitter: Whether it’s seeing your competition get a big break while you’re struggling or watching your old coworkers buy new cars and take vacations while you’re living off of tinned beans and peanut butter sandwiches, something is liable to come along and make you wish you hadn’t chosen the path of entrepreneurship.
Don’t let this negative voice win. Anger will drain your energy and poison your mind against your own business (because you’ll begin to see it, deep down, as the cause of all your problems). Be grateful instead: Grateful for the opportunities that come your way, for the fact that you were brave enough to take this path, and for the wonderful people you meet along the way. Gratitude is one of the most empowering emotions we have, so use it to build yourself up.
10. Embrace change.
Being able to embrace change quickly and effectively is where small businesses have an innate advantage over larger ones. Change is incredibly difficult for big corporations to adapt to: They have many more systems to upgrade, employees to retrain, etc. Leverage your agility as an entrepreneur and you will out-compete your larger brethren.
11. Become a lifelong learner.
This is another area where big businesses stumble: Because it’s so hard to implement change, AKA learn new skills and techniques, they stay with tried, tested, and proven methods and approaches for as long as possible. You don’t have to; out-compete large corporations by staying on the cutting edge of your industry.
12. Think outside of the box (better yet- “throw the box away”)
As an entrepreneur, you will have to be resourceful: You will need to do more with less and unlock the hidden potential within yourself and your employees. To accomplish this, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to experiment with methods and processes no one has ever tried before. Remember: Sometimes crazy works.
13. Always seek to add value and serve.
A lot of conventional employees have a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. They want to get whatever they can out of the large, impersonal, and competitive organizations they work for (e.g., a great salary, bonuses, the best health insurance, and so on). As an entrepreneur, you have to toss this attitude where it belongs: In the trash. If your clients feel like you’re just there to do the bare minimum, collect a paycheck, and leave, you almost certainly won’t get repeat business. Start thinking of how you can better serve the people you’re working with: What can you do to exceed their expectations? How can you offer real, long term value to their organizations? Think like a part of the team and they’ll probably make you one.
14. Develop an attitude of perseverance.
If at first you don’t succeed when solving a problem, you will need to learn to try, try, and try again until you do. Once again, no one is going to come along and give you the answers. You have to develop the perseverance needed to carry on until you get the results you desire.
15. Never give up.
When all else is said and done, this—never giving up—is what being a successful entrepreneur really comes down to. Remember, for instance, that one of the wealthiest businessmen in the world—the late Steve Jobs—was once fired from his own company. If he had given up at that juncture, none of us would have iPhones.
This is the ultimate “golden rule” of being an entrepreneur: No matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to get back up again. You have to trust that the obstacles you face will bring out the best in you and continually rise to meet them. If you do, you might well become the next great success story.
Adapted from the Newly Released Book titled- Mentally Strong Entrepreneur
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM
About the Author
Robert Moment is a Spiritual Life Coach and Author who specializes in coaching women how to become mentally strong and happy with positive thinking and habits. Robert is the author of several books including Mentally Strong Entrepreneur, 13 Habits of Mentally Strong Women, Self Help Habits, Real Change Starts With You and several others.
Visit https://www.SpiritualLifeCoachRobert.com and sign up for the FREE 7 Day e-Course titled, You Are More Than Enough