A common focus of many entrepreneurs and business leaders is how to become successful, but the truth is that achieving success is a journey more than it is a prescribed destination.
becoming successful entails adopting a number of rewarding character traits and making a series of calculated decisions over a long period of time.
For some, success does happen overnight. Although that form of success is rarely sustainable. For the rest, success happens gradually over a life-time. It is the culmination of great effort and vision.
Here, we examine a variety of characteristics and qualities that frame success.
Foundation of Success
To walk a successful path demands extraordinary discipline. You must be able to balance a wide variety of character traits to sustain your efforts along the long journey.
Underlying the challenges of becoming a successful entrepreneur are 3 fundamental cornerstones; mindset, structure and space.
Mindset is essential to progressing as an entrepreneur and for maintaining a positive outlook of the future no matter the obstacle. Positivity fosters confidence to keep moving forward and supports the inspiration you need to sustain your conviction that your path is leading somewhere.
Structure is vital because it allows successful leaders to organize how they plan to approach their goals. To effectively develop a structure, you must be able to clearly articulate the following:
Know what you want with clarity.
Articulate your vision with precision and grace.
Breakdown your objective into incremental goals.
Develop rituals around your processes.
Prioritize what is essential.
Reflect on your incremental successes & failures to adapt.
Without a defined structure, entrepreneurs lack the necessary solid foundation they need to support and successfully accomplish complex endeavors over time. Embarking on a successful path that embraces structure is very much like charting a map to help your navigate the unknown terrain along your journey.
Lastly, space represents the last raw ingredient entrepreneurs need to successful accomplish their entrepreneurial journey. To manage a business is to multi-task. The best and most successful entrepreneurs know that to master every aspect of their business demands creating space for each individual. Doing so enables them to focus exclusively on each component when it is necessary.
Successful entrepreneurs also create space between their personal life and their business experiences. Successful leaders recognize that we are human beings. And as such, we are complex creatures that need a variety of inspirational inputs and healthy distractions to properly function and balance the forces that affect our living experiences.
Setting time ask to meditate, exercise, to be with family, travel, and work on your business is essential to effectively managing your personal and professional life in a sustainable way that can yield positive results.
Success comes not just from establishing attainable goals and acting up on them, it demands building a whole structure for your life in a way that harmonizes every element including your aspirations, personal needs, physical health and physiological well being.
To build upon these 3 cornerstones, consider the common traits of successful entrepreneurs.
Common Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
For all entrepreneurs, building a sustainable business is a life-long challenge. To facilitate your journey and successfully navigate the many forces that will either propel or harm your, consider embracing the following character traits:
To be a successful entrepreneurs demands possessing immense fortitude to keep going against all of the odds. True entrepreneurs possess the determination and focus to never give up despite the many setbacks they may experience. Resilience enables founders to pivot, adapt and persevere during the tough times.
2. Lessons Not Excuses
Successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes. They are always willing to learn new things to empower their abilities to more effectively achieve short and long-term goals.
Successful leaders own up to their misgivings and don’t make excuses, which requires being courageous and practicing humility. Above all, founders should avoid hubris and entitlement because it damages their perception of reality and typically results in alienation.
Great entrepreneurs constantly innovate their solutions, their business and themselves. Successful founders constantly seek new ways to proactively improve how their companies function in a practice is sometimes called creative destruction. Successful entrepreneurs don’t sit on the success of a particular product or wait for the market or competitors to force them to react.
Maintaining momentum is important to sustaining the long-term success of any company. Persistently innovating every aspect of your business and management techniques is the surest way to stay ahead of the competitive curve.
Successful entrepreneurs focus, almost exclusively, on innovative solutions that are significantly different from what is currently available on the market. The best founders create meaningful and marketable solutions that can have a lasting impact on large or growing markets, despite the risk associated with developing them.
Successful founders proactively seek to establish partnerships with complementary second or third party businesses to help improve and distribute their solution. Effectively navigating your business through the ups and downs requires creating lasting partnerships with talented people and successful organizations who can help you achieve your goals.
Entrepreneurs who think long-term focus on their core competency, build a recognizable brand, and engage the help of other talented individuals to fill in the gaps. Great leaders know that it is better to go far together than to go quickly a short distance alone.
6. Relationship Building
Great entrepreneurs spend as much time cultivating impactful relationships and building networks as they do on the day-to-day tasks of their business. Successful founders actively seek to cultivate rewarding relationships with peers, partners, investors, and competitors to help them sustain the required determination and expertise to effectively lead their business over the long-term.
Sustaining a powerful network can be the difference between long-term success and short-term flashes.
To improve your relationship building skills, consider practicing kindness to the people around you. Always make the effort to greet and engage with the colleagues and friends.
Recognize that being kind doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone. It means telling someone you disagree with them with grace so that they understand your position and are not hurt by your potential disapproval of theirs.
A great Churchill quote comes to mind on this topic:
Tact, is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.
When problems arise, ask many questions and be sensitive to the emotions of the people around your. Your colleagues and employees want to feel as though they can trust your, and that you truly care about their wellbeing.
It is important to remember that when building a professional network, it is far more valuable to express yourself effectively and with compassion than it is to impress those around you.
Successful entrepreneurs make a habit of associating themselves with people who are proactive, optimistic, potentially smarter than they are, and who can provide complementary skills. Entrepreneurs should always seek out and work with positive, “can do” thinking individuals, because they will help you navigate the challenges of building a sustainable business over the long term. Positivity inspires and helps maintain focus.
Great entrepreneurs are inspired be a cause greater than themselves, and of making a lot money. For some it is to change the world, to help a community in need, or to improve a way of living, or to progress technology in a particular direction.
While keeping a close eye on revenue is undoubtably important, a higher cause is fundamentally necessary to motivate and inspire partners to commit to your vision and drive the long-term success of your business.
Great entrepreneurs work harder than most people, get a lot more done during the time that they are working, and have no regrets about their time commitments.
Building a sustainable business demands extraordinary focus, vision and stamina. Successful founders do more with less and embrace the workload and constantly explore new ways to improve their personal efficiency a well as the efficiencies of their business.
An essential character trait of successful entrepreneurs is confidence. Some may place this as the first trait, however it has been intentionally placed second to last last because confidence is in many ways the beneficial consequence of effectively practicing all of the aforementioned character traits.
Confident leaders inspire others not only with their words but their body language. With the right approach, entrepreneurs can use confidence like a form of magic to motivate others toward actualizing their goals.
All of these character traits build towards a lower aversion to risk taking, which is crucial for entrepreneurs. Successful business leaders achieve their success by taking calculated risks on themselves, on their ventures, and on the talented people around them.
Practicing all of the aforementioned traits can meaningfully improve an entrepreneur's ability to make smarter calculated decisions on what risks to take, how to manage them, and which risks to avoid.
Lesser Known Traits
The entrepreneurial lifestyle is grounded on vision, hard work and determination. The greatest founders learn from every step they take, forward and background, and embrace the many challenges of their entrepreneurial journey.
To build upon the common attributes that define successful entrepreneurs, founders should be aware of a number of often under-appreciated character traits that can positively impact their ability to leader their business.
Reflection is an important practice of successful entrepreneurs. We already discussed the powers of resilience, perseverance, and positivity, but without mindfulness, entrepreneurs are prone to becoming lost, and forgetful of the bad or good practices that got them to where they are.
Setting regular time aside during the workweek to reflect on past successes and failures is an essential component to opening your mind to different possibilities and solutions that can positively impact your business strategy.
Having a clear vision and the determination to act upon it is essential, but entrepreneurs must also be able to effectively communicate their vision to people around them.
To improve your communication skills, consider practicing the following tips which speaking to and with others:
Be yourself, confident & authentic. Don’t try to be someone you are not.
Don’t seek approval, instead focus on providing a contribution to others.
Practice, practice & practice.
Watch videos of successful speakers to pick up insights on tone and body language.
Video yourself speaking, and analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
Know what your speaking about with absolute confidence. The key is to share, not to recite.
Without good communications skills entrepreneurs will be unable to inspire talented individuals and groups who can meaningfully help them progress their ventures.
To be a successful entrepreneur demands possessing an unquenchable thirst to learn and grow as a human being and a professional. Central to this character trait is a profound curiosity to any new and different ideas, a relentless appetite for diverse content, and an inclination for debate.
With an insatiable desire to learn, entrepreneurs can build a knowledge base that is encompassing and inclusive. With the necessary knowledge and an appetite for building valuable relationships with like-minded people of diverse backgrounds, business leaders can dramatically enhance the probability that their venture will succeed over the long term.
To contrast insatiability, entrepreneurs must also be decisive. Successful entrepreneurs do not have the time or energy to process all of the available information related to the many decisions they must make on a daily basis.
Successful leaders apply balance to their information intake and effectively recognize when they have enough facts to make a sound decision about which direction to move their company.
Entrepreneurs will not get every decision right. But, it is better to learn from the experience of making mistakes and adapting, than it is to be immobilized by too much information and indecisiveness.
To complement decisiveness, successful entrepreneurs practice consistency in all of their actions and decision making processes. Nurturing a company is a challenge the requires stamina. Consistency helps entrepreneurs improve focus and maintain a high level efficiency across daily routines.
Successful founders are consistent in their approach to structuring time, and apply consistency throughout their managerial decisions in order to instill policies and procedures that are easily accepted and understood by their colleagues and staff.
While entrepreneurs must be decisive in their decision making and consistent in their responsibilities, they must also be open to adaptation and accept potential feedback and criticism from their colleagues.
For successful founders, the desire to improve must be stronger than the desire to master. To overcome any fear you may have of receiving feedback and criticism, consider practicing the following tips:
A. Resist the fight or flight reaction. Be confident that even if you have weaknesses, you also have strengths.
B. Believe in your capabilities to continuously try to learn and grow. You are human being, adapting to our environment is what we are designed to do!
C. Change your mindset from constant or static to growth and evolving.
D. Create self-improvement routines with reward systems.
E. When engaging in conflicts between friends, colleagues, superiors and customers practice the LATTE method:
Listen to the person
Acknowledge the problem
Take problem-solving action
Thank the person for their inputs
Explain why the problem occurred
F. Make getting feedback a habit for yourself and your team.
Eliciting feedback can be damaging to your ego, but it is important to accept is as a necessary means improving who you are and how you interact with others.
Allowing for feedback and criticism at the leadership and executive level will also instill a culture of transparency and openness at all levels of your company, which can be extremely beneficial for your innovative processes.
To effectively create a impactful solution and lead an organization from inception to maturity requires maintaining a high level of creativity. Successful leaders use their intuition and the input of their colleagues to either discover or create solutions that propel their ventures to the next level.
Embracing creativity produces the ability to easily adapt to internal or external changes that affect your business's economic performance and executive goals.
To apply many of the aforementioned traits, entrepreneurs must embrace and practice honesty in all of their activities and management decisions.
Honesty is easy to identify and is widely appreciated by peers, partners, employees and customers. Successful leaders practice honesty to garner trust from the people they work with and around them, and they benefit form additional qualities including:
Successful leaders are honest about the good things and the bad, and do not fear the consequences of their honesty. Even if times are bad, honestly will bring about endearment which will enhance the committed and motivation of your team.
Great entrepreneurs keep their cool, which is essential for effectively leading a business, particularly in times of turmoil. Calmness not only induces reflection, but allows for more objective thinking, which helps combat forces of stress that may negatively impact your decision making.
To become a more calm entrepreneur consider adopting the following insights:
Appreciate what you have & what is given to you.
Avoid asking “what if” too much.
See the positive side of things, it helps maintain focus.
Set time aside to routinely disconnect from technology.
Limit caffeine & other stimulants.
Get enough sleep.
Squash negative self-analysis.
Keep your perspective on life grounded & simple.
Keep your expectations realistic and don’t overstretch yourself.
Exercise, meditate & breathe.
Tap into your support system when you need it.
Leading with calmness will also promote a sense of security and confidence among your peers, partners and employees that will allow them to more effectively fulfill their responsibilities.
While successful entrepreneurs require determination to effectively lead their ventures, they also display the quality of patience. The reality is that good things take time to actualize. Rushing to complete tasks because of self-imposed deadlines and a misplaced desired for immediate results will produce damaging outcomes.
The slow and steady win the race and practicing patience often leads to even better results than first intend. Moreover, as a leader you do not want to push colleagues into situations they do not fully understand. Instead, successful entrepreneurs allow for progress to occur naturally.
Plus, adopting this mindset will allow you to determine who among your team truly understand your objectives and is committed to accomplishing them.
The trait of patiences reminds of a old Taoist proverb:
To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next the people hate… When the best leader’s work is done the people say, we did it ourselves!
To build among the qualities of calmness and patience, successful leaders express their gratitude of the contributions others provide around them. Practicing gratitude helps entrepreneurs stay centered.
With gratitude entrepreneurs can maintain focused on the most important things; leading a good life and inspiring those around you to improve themselves in the same ways that you do.
Great leaders are preceptive and can easily read the people around them. Successful founders easily identify the different personalities of the people around them and use these insights to their advantage when interacting with them.
To develop a higher sense of intuition, consider observing the following behavioral trends:
An individual’s hands and brain share many nerve connections, and hands accurately communicate a variety of emotions and thoughts including:
A. Hand Steepling (placing tips of your fingers together) is a good indication that the person is confident.
B. Clenching hands is a indication of stress.
C. Stroking gestures indicate lack confidence.
Similarly, an individuals feet can accurately communicate a variety of emotions and thoughts including:
A. Crossed legs indicate comfort and confidence.
B. Locked feet, ankles and legs indicate stress.
C. Jiggling of the leg while seated indicates discomfort.
D. One Ankle over another indicates that a person is holding back a negative emotion, uncertainty or fear.
E. Pointing feet toward the door or away from the speaker is an indication that the person is trying to end the conversation.
C. Facial Expressions
Lastly, micro-expressions of the face can be telling, yet also deceiving. The following gestures may indicate different feelings, and intentions:
A. Covering part of the face with the hand indicates a person may be deceitful or careful in their expressions.
B. Raised eyebrows is an sign of excitement and positive emotions.
C. Tilting of the head is a powerful signal of comfort and confidence.
Communication styles vary greatly. A strong intuition can dramatically help entrepreneurs communicate in ways that will yield the results they desire.
This observational quality can dramatically help leaders cultivate lasting relationships, and meaningfully help the task of inspiring partners, leading teams and engaging in negotiations.
The last lesser known character trait of successful entrepreneurs, which varies greatly depending on the person, is humility.
Knowing your limits and where you came from is essential to recognizing where you want to go, and practicing humility can help you cultivate the necessary courage to achieve your objectives.
To better embrace humility consider practicing the following:
Ask for regular feedback.
Confront your prejudices.
Start every conversation with a question.
Listen to others, don’t just hear them.
Accept that setbacks happen.
Discover the wonder of the people, the world and the universe around you.
Successful founders are humble enough to know that they do not need material wealth or bottomless emotional support to achieve their goals. Practicing humility can instill a powerful sense confidence that anything is possible with sheer willpower and the right strategy.
What all of these character traits build towards is a profound sense of independence and inner-strength. Successful entrepreneurs are capable, self-sustaining individuals who must be capable of traversing vast deserts alone to arrive at oasis of opportunity and insight.
Being Independent does not necessarily mean working alone, all entrepreneurs must be able to work with others to progress their ventures. Successful founders simply do whatever is needed to be done to make their venture successful, no matter the doubt and criticism that is cast upon them. They recognize that only they have the power to accomplish their goals.
In all of these ways, great founders are highly adaptable individuals who are capable of transforming complex challenges into meaningful opportunities. An entrepreneur may not have all of the required skills and character traits to fulfill their entrepreneurial vision, but by being adaptable they can recognize the big picture and identify where the gaps exist.
This humble recognition allows founders to understand the needs of their business that must to be fulfilled, and through constant learning and practice adapt themselves to match them.
Journey vs. Destination
A challenge for many entrepreneurs is the reality that success can mean a variety of different things to different people. While all of the listed character traits can undoubtably help your probability of success, embracing and practicing all of them at the same time is unrealistic.
The important thing to keep in mind is the effort you are making.
You might not be able to display all of these qualities, but the fact that you are trying will produce encouraging results. The key is not to give up on yourself or your endeavors.
Successful entrepreneurs value the journey more than the destination, and an attitude of continuous self-improvement is the surest way to make sure you can achieve your goals.
To ensure that your are on the right path, consider reflecting on whether you are displaying the following attributes.
Consider where you are, where you come from. Recognize how much your have developed as person and achieved as an entrepreneur. Be proud of the distance you have covered and the challenges you overcame thus far, and use that positive energy to boost your self-confidence to successfully navigate the path going forward.
Consider whether or not you set your own priorities, and recognize that the practice is a privilege you have earned from your hard work. You may not be making millions of dollars, yet, but you love what you do and you would not trade the freedom you have earned for a well paying job.
Establishing your own priorities is half of the recipe for success, the other have is sticking to them.
Think about how much you enjoy reading books, articles, magazines, or watching documentaries and movies. Are your constantly learning? And, if so then be confident that you will be able to discover the right solutions to enact your vision and achieve your goals. You will undoubtable make mistakes along the way, but you recognize them, learn from them and adapt to improve your chances of success over the long term.
4. Baby Steps
Consider whether or not you proactively set short-term goals that are achievable with the means you currently have at your disposal. Entrepreneurs often think about big-picture objectives, however it is equally important to consider the small objectives, and the order of steps you need to take to achieve your vision. Small goals build to great ones.
Reflect on the habits you have formed over time. Achieving success is not a singular act, it is a process of collecting impactful habits that enable successful outcomes. Consider whether or not your personal habits support your professional habits in positive ways. They are linked.
The way you treat yourself, your friends, and your family at home will impact the way you treat people at work. And vis versa. Your habits will serve as a guiding example for others. So work hard to embrace the right habits that will help you and your team achieve sustainable success.
6. Emotional Intelligence
Often an overlooked quality, but consider whether or not you have control over your emotions. Perfectly controlling your emotions is impossible, unless you are the Buddha, but entrepreneurs should be able to identify, understand and manage their emotions with relative ease.
Emotions impact how you lead a business and interact with a variety of individuals and organizations. Mastering them can meaningfully help you successfully navigate the short and long-term challenges that arise along your journey.
Lastly, consider whether or not you easily give up on your goals. Successful entrepreneurs display a unique level of tenacity that enables them to never give up on their vision.
To put it simply, never give up.
If you practice many of the listed qualities then be confident in your ability to move forward and overcome any challenge. The road to success is long and full of peril, persistence is the tool that will get you through the lows and the highs.
To be a successful entrepreneur demands adopting a lifestyle that allows for significant staying power and consistency to support positive character traits. Starting a business is a challenging long-term process that will stretch your limits in a variety of ways.
The best way to combat the internal and external forces that work against you is to respect yourself as a human being and recognize your natural limits.
All entrepreneurs should consider practicing meditation to help them process the diversity of influences that impact their everyday life. It can help discover simple solutions to improve your personal and professional wellbeing.
Moreover, the discipline of meditation can help entrepreneurs achieve a powerful sense of balance that can support their endeavors.
As previously mentioned, practicing all of the character traits that define successful entrepreneurs is an unrealistic challenge, but discovering the right balance that can meaningfully facilitate your efforts is within your grasp.
To find your balance, it is important to set time within the week for yourself, alone free of direct influences and distractions.
Reflect on what you are trying to personally and professionally achieve. Examine the forces that are working with or against you, and how you can improve your strategy to manage the many trials of your journey.
The truth of what you need to do, and which qualities you need to leverage for different situations is ultimately within you. Allowing yourself to discover them demands quiet reflection and observation.
Actions as simple as going on a routine walk can be a highly effective way to achieve greater calm, meditate, reflect on where you are in life, and exercise!
In time, practicing this form of self-discipline becomes easier, and the actionable insights become more self-evident.
The trick, don't give up.
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