Many entrepreneurs point to the unique ideas and disruptive technologies as the sole success of Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Alibaba, and several other similar companies. These business owners start chasing that one unique idea or that holy-grail of tech innovations believing that it alone will catapult their success and add several zeros to their bank accounts overnight. But that’s not how successful businesses are created. If you look at the life of some of the most successful business owners like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Ma, and Elon Musk, you see that an innovative mind isn’t the only thing that sets them apart. They all have traits and habits that helped them achieve business success. Let’s look at some of the habits of successful business owners.
Habits Of Successful Business Owners
The superset of all the collective habits of successful business owners is enormous, but there are 15 habits that I believe help us succeed in business and life.
1. They Keep Learning, Always
Warren Buffett is a famous example of a successful business owner that keeps learning. Learning is growth. We learn several new things every day through our lives, social interactions, news, and social media. But that’s quite different from the active learning habit that you need to instill in yourself if you wish to become successful. It’s best to keep learning more about your business, industry, overall market, new technologies related to your business or simple business management, and various other things. The more you learn, the more paths to business and personal success will become apparent.
2. Set Goals
Successful business owners have a habit of setting goals. These goals can be as small (and short-term) as getting through paperwork by the end of the day and as ambitious as leading your company to be a Fortune 500 company. Goals keep them focused and moving in a specific direction and ensure that most of their efforts, resources, and more time is spent on chasing something worthwhile. Without appropriate goals, it’s easier to become distracted and veer off course.
It’s also essential to have a few stretch goals – goals that are tough and require novelty in approach. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” you must determine when stretch goals do and do not make sense and when to employ them rather than set more achievable objectives.
3. They Plan Long-Term
Any goal without a plan is just a daydream. Successful business owners conceive the “big picture” and devise goals with actionable strategies to create them. A plan makes it easier for them and their teams to follow their goal, and it also helps people stay motivated. Successful business owners also think long-term, which means they don’t get cozy with temporary success and get disheartened from occasional challenges. If things are moving in the right direction, they keep moving forward.
4. Take Risks
Unlike naïve visionaries, successful business owners take calculated risks. They weigh their options, run different scenarios in their heads, and do cost-benefit analyses about whether the risk they are about to take is worth it. These business owners look to risk with practicality and try to mitigate the possibility of the worst outcome (if the risk doesn’t pay off).
On the other hand, they also don’t hesitate to do things that most others would find too risky. Starting a business instead of taking the safe, job-route paycheck is considered pretty risky!
5. Leverage Opportunities As They Come
Opportunities don’t appear often. As they come, you want to take advantage of them. If you are too indecisive or unprepared, you might lose a chance and possibly an edge over your competition. Smart business owners understand this, and they try to stay prepared. Extraordinarily successful business owners go a step further, and instead of waiting for opportunities, they find them, sometimes wrestling them out of the challenges their business might be facing. 2020 was riddled with examples where businesses, instead of going down with the ship, found ingenious ways and unique opportunities for success and the COVID-impacted market.
6. Connect With Their Team
No doubt that there is quite a difference between a manager and a leader, yet successful business owners incorporate the traits of both. They connect with their team, either on a personal level (by creating a friendly environment) or via human resource practices designed to make communication up the chain of command easier. These owners understand that a good team is one of their most important resources and is crucial to business success. Connecting with the team members encourages the business owner to draw out their full potential and keep their motivation up. This connection also enables every employee and team member to give the business their very best selves.
7. The Delegate Important Tasks To Relevant People
Surrounding yourself with the right people with the right talent allows you to delegate distinct tasks to different people. Delegation ensures that the person responsible is the perfect fit for the job. Delegating tasks enable you to have more time to focus on what you think is most important for your business. And while you might think it pays to be a jack of all trades, a business owner going down that route is unlikely to find enough time and resources to become successful.
8. Don’t Overwork
One of the most challenging lessons I learned in my life is that hard work rarely equals success. Successful business owners understand it (eventually), and they tend not to overwork. You’ll see them spending time with friends and family or focusing on their hobbies. That’s because overworking causes burnout and brain fog, often – both of which hamper creative thought.
9. Break-Down Problems into Manageable Pieces
This habit you’ll observe in everyday life, and not just in their business or core competency. These business owners tend to break problems down into small, manageable pieces. They either go through each piece by themselves or delegate the task to the relevant professionals to find solutions. Some business owners prefer the “eating the frog first” approach meaning they deal with the most significant problem early in the day, while others tend to assign a set time for them to deal with these problems or questions. Both “variants” of the problem-solving habit are equally beneficial.
10. Don’t Micromanage
This habit follows the same vein as the habit of delegating the relevant tasks to relevant people, but it comes with trust. Many talented and even gifted entrepreneurs develop a slight “god” complex. They think they are the only ones that can get things done right; therefore, they try to micromanage everything. Micromanaging habits lead to several adverse side effects such as lack of time for crucial imperatives, de-motivating the team members, and straying far from their core competency. The best way to curb the horrible micromanagement habit is to develop systems that allow you to trust your team members.
11. Don’t Delay (Unnecessarily)
Not every problem needs to be solved right away and utilizing your time efficiently and responsibly is essential. Yet successful business owners tend not to keep things on the back burner. They deal with problems as promptly as possible, so they don’t become more significant issues later down the line. Prompt action frees their time and energy to focus on a specific project because they don’t have any pending matters tying them down.
12. Admit Failure
No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. One of the most attractive habits of successful business owners is that they readily admit their mistakes (either publicly or in front of their teams). Admitting a mistake is the first step towards learning from it and dealing with the repercussions. It requires you to bend your pride, but that’s how you advance.
With the rise of tech companies, the stereotype of nerdy, eccentric, and introverted business owners is also taking root. But that’s not how most successful business owners are. Even if they don’t possess the charisma of a celebrity, they tend to socialize with their peers, other industry leaders, and prominent members of society. Even in social media, a network of peers and mutual respect is fundamental for creating business relationships.
14. They Are Responsible Spenders
One of the most critical financial success rules is to spend less than you earn, and you’d see successful business owners following this rule quite diligently. They are responsible investors by habit and tend not to overspend their budgets (personal and business). It also helps them become efficient at resource management.
15. Believe In Momentum
Successful business owners always try to keep moving forward. They keep going despite problems, challenges, and losses that might knock most other people down. The ability to function while simultaneously coping with various issues sets these business owners apart from the others.
Change is hard. Unearthing the reasons for our bad habits, breaking them, and instilling better ones seems almost impossible. Running a business can make it daunting to make radical changes right away. Becoming aware of the habits of successful business owners delivers the guide for change.
In Chip and Dan Heath’s, “Switch,” the authors outline techniques proven to help us change bad habits, behaviors that have become automatic. By adopting a growth mindset, you can develop many of the practices of successful business owners. Incorporating their tools in making the “switch” sets you on the right path for personal growth in all aspects of your life and your business.
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