Whether building a $100 million dollar tech company, shopping for a killer first investment property, or selling Mary Kay out of the back of a pink car – successful business owners don’t mess around. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that, if forced to start over from scratch, the majority of successful business owners would be able to find great success again.
What is it that sets successful people apart from wannabes? Why do some people seem to have the “magic touch” and can turn anything to gold? The following is a list of traits that I’ve noticed run fairly consistently through most successful business owners as well as tips to help you implement them in your own life. This list is by no means exhaustive, but simply my opinion of traits I’ve noticed.
Which ones do you exhibit?
1.) Write Down Specific Goals
Most business owners know that a plan unwritten is a plan undone. Equally important is the evidence that making those goals specific is also key. It’s not enough to simply say
- “I want to invest in real estate this year” or
- “I want to quit my job this year.”
Instead – goals should be specific and measurable (see SMART criteria) like:
- “I want to buy a duplex in Aberdeen that provides $300 in monthly cashflow” or
- “I want my business to earn $4500 in profit during the month of January.”
Write down your specific goals – as well as the path you plan to take to get there. Your journey becomes much more clear when you have a map to follow.
2.) Wake Up Early
The philosopher Aristotle said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” The technique of waking up early has been used since the dawn of mankind to try and accomplish more in the day and many of the most successful individuals I know put this into practice each day to maintain and grow their businesses.
Our bodies naturally will often take 8, 9, 10 or more hours of sleep each night if allowed – but our bodies don’t need that much. Successful business leaders know the value that 30 minutes or an hour can provide. After all – an extra hour per day equates to an extra 30 minutes of productive daytime equates to 182.5 hours of productivity each year, or the equivalent of an extra month of work at a 40-hour per week job.
If you are struggling with getting up earlier, check out this great post by Steve Pavilla about How to Become an Early Riser.
3.) Market on the Offense
Very few business owners ever found success by playing defense. They don’t operate on the “if you build it, they will come” principle. Instead, they take their marketing to the streets (sometimes quite literally, like in the cases of bandit signs, billboards, and other similar techniques.) Marketing on the offense is about going out and bringing your customers back in. In real estate – this means getting out there to where the buyers or investors are, not just waiting for them to come to you. Whatever your industry is – get out there and start marketing on the offense.
4.) Think Outside the Box
Business is never cut-and-dry. There are far too many variables to simply follow a basic plan and hope to succeed without wavering. Smart business owners know how to think outside the box and be creative. This is a skill, I believe, that is sharpened through the active discussion and deliberation of problems when they arise. Don’t simply stick your head in the sand and accept defeat when problems arise (because they will.) Instead – follow what most successful business owners do and force yourself to get through and find a solution.
5.) Focus on Utilizing Strengths, not Weaknesses
Successful business owners know they are not good at everything. Rather than trying to fix all the things they are not good at, they focus on maximizing the things that they are. This is when outsourcing and hiring out jobs becomes especially important. Many house flippers learn this lesson the hard way (myself included) when they try to do the entire rehab alone. Sometimes a plumber can fix something in ten minutes that would take you or I an entire day. However – I wouldn’t want that plumber to negotiate a deal for me with a bank. We all have different strengths – seek to maximize them and find others who can cover your weaknesses.
As the popular phrase states, “those who lead, read.” It doesn’t mean only books (though, books are a great source.) Blogs (such as this,) newspapers, magazines, and even audiobooks or podcasts can become excellent tools for growth. Successful business owners know that business growth is linked to personal growth, and personal growth to reading (Tweet This Quote!). Don’t have time to read? Refer back up to #2.
7.) Test and Tweak
Keeping active tabs on the performance of a business is one of the most important jobs of a business owner. Successful owners understand the need for continual monitoring, testing, and tweaking of the systems they have in place. This can include anything from marketing, organization, business structure, profit sources, or more. For example:
- What would happen if you changed the words on your direct mail campaign?
- What if you started cold calling at 8am instead of 9am?
- What if there was a way to automate your bookkeeping?
- How big of a difference would it make if you paid 7% commission instead of 6%?
Sometimes minor changes can create massive results. Other times they’ll do nothing. How will you know unless you continually test and tweak your strategies?
8.) Seek Out Advice from People Smarter Than Themselves
Successful business owners don’t rely on their past successes to propel them forward. Instead, they draw upon the advice, guidance, and examples set by people who have come before and are smarter than them. This is the motivation behind finding mentors, getting connected with local clubs, and engaging in online communities like the BiggerPockets Forums. If you are the smartest guy in the room – you probably need to add on a new room if you want to grow.
9.) Spend Time with Loved Ones
If you were to ask 100 business people leaders in the twilight of their lives what they would change if they could go back and do it again – I would guess “make more money” wouldn’t be on the top of their list. In fact – I would wager that the majority of them would say something about spending more time with the ones they love. Don’t forget that this is all one giant game. Winning doesn’t mean anything, and you never see a funeral procession led by a U-Haul; you can’t take “it” with you when you die
- What other traits can you add to this list?
- What traits do you currently excel at?
- Which are you going to improve on this week?
Please share this article with others and leave me a comment below and let’s discuss!