I think it’s really fascinating how most successful people are so much alike. I spend a lot of time with very successful entrepreneurs and these are 10 traits that they all have in common.
Wannabe entrepreneurs always go for the quick buck. Successful entrepreneurs always do the right thing, even if it means losing money in the short term. They do whatever it takes to make their clients happy, they pay their employees well and never lie or exaggerate in order to get new business.
Wannabe entrepreneurs avoid cold-calling because “it’s scary”, they avoid creating new products because “I wouldn’t even know where to start” and put off firing bad employees because “I hate confrontation”.
Successful entrepreneurs do what needs to be done. If something is scary, the feel the fear and do it anyway. They understand that you can either be comfortable or successful, but not both.
Determination is the art of starting things. Persistance is the art of pushing through when things are hard. Some days are really bad: key employees quit, you lose big clients and you might get sued. Wannabe entrepreneurs see this as a sign of failure and quit. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is part of success and do whatever it takes to revert the situation.
Analytical Thinking
Wannabe entrepreneurs whine too much: “My sales are so low! The economy sucks! My employees are lazy!” Successful entrepreneurs think differently. They think, “OK, so this is not working, but why? What can I do to improve this process? How have other successful companies dealt with similar problems?”
Be honest: do you really think you can make $10 million next year? Most of us will answer “no” to this. That’s because we are realistic. But successful entrepreneurs are never realistic; they’re naive. And being naive is a great thing. Let me explain why.
When you acknowledge that something is impossible, that’s the end of it. If you discard the idea of making $10 million in 2012 because it’s not realistic, it’ll never happen. I guarantee that.
Successful entrepreneurs think, “Making $10 million is hard. But assuming it CAN be done, HOW would this happen?” See the difference? They assume it’s possible so they shift their thinking from whether it can be done to HOW it can be done. And that’s when the ideas start flowing in. You start reverse-engineering the process. It works something like this:

  • I need to make $10 million dollars
  • Every client is worth $20,000, so I need 500 clients
  • I close a deal for every four appointments I have, so I need 2,000 appointments
  • I get an appointment for every 20 calls I make, so I need to make 40,000 calls
  • I can make 10,000 calls a year, so we need four salespeople. And, I need to train them so they follow my system.
  • Four salespeople will cost me $400,000. So I need to get funding.
  • I need to pitch 25 investors to get one to fund me
  • …and so on

And, that’s how they come up with a plan. Most of the time, some of their assumptions will be wrong and they’ll need to make adjustments. And, maybe they won’t make $10 million but they’ll make $7 million. Would you call that failure? The main difference between wannabe entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs is the size of their dreams.
Wannabe entrepreneurs try to do too many things at once. Successful entrepreneurs understand that there are two or three things that are more important than everything else and they work hard to do an excellent job on those few things.
Willingness to Seek the Truth
I’ve found that wannabe entrepreneurs have a really hard time calling their customers after a purchase to ask them for feedback. They’re afraid that they might have something negative to say or want to return their purchases. But what’s the alternative? Having an inferior product that nobody likes? Not finding out that your shipping process is broken because you don’t want to hear the bad news?
Ask your customers how you can be a better company. Ask your employees how you can be a better boss and create a better workplace.
The truth is often very painful, and as I mentioned before, you need to be willing to be uncomfortable if you want to succeed. You need the truth. Every single time.
I’m always amazed at how generous successful entrepreneurs are. They are always willing to advise new entrepreneurs, they’re involved in non-profits and most of them even share ideas with their competitors. They have an abundance mentality; they understand there’s enough for everyone.
You can always spot a wannabe entrepreneur because they don’t want to reveal their business ideas (so you can’t steal them).They don’t want to tell you how they get clients or what’s working for them. They have a scarcity mentality.
Another trait of wannabe entrepreneurs is that they constantly brag. They do this because they’re insecure and they want to appear more successful than they really are. Successful entrepreneurs are much humbler. They talk to other people respectfully and never look down on anyone.
Willingness to Ask for Help
Successful entrepreneurs aren’t ashamed to ask for help. They understand their limitations and attract people who excel at things they’re not good at.
What did I miss? What are other important qualities successful entrepreneurs have?