I was lucky enough to meet some of the most brilliant entrepreneurs in the world. They’re all extremely different from each other, but they have a couple of things in common that set them apart from everyone else.
They Are Not Stopped by Fear
A lot of people think that to start a business you have to be fearless. Nothing is further from the truth. Successful entrepreneurs are afraid of things all the time, but they do them anyway. Starting a business will force you to do things you’ve never done before. You’ll have to cold-call potential clients and vendors. You’ll have to do some writing, videos and interview potential employees. Doing new things is always scary. Don’t feel bad if you’re terrified of doing new things; that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel.
They Know When to Ask for Help
You won’t be great at everything you do. I think I’m a great marketer and pretty good salesman, but I suck at project management and finances. So, when I started my business 10 years ago, I read a few books on project management and small business finances. I also called a few contacts until I found a project manager and a CFO that agreed to have coffee with me. I picked their brains for a while, paid for their coffees and got them small gifts for their time. A few years later I hired a full-time project manager, and three years ago we hired an accountant. Figure out what you’re not good at and ask for help in those areas.
They Are Persistent
If you’ve ever started a business, you know how difficult it can be. You have to work way harder than you thought and everything will take twice as long as you expected. Some days are great and you move three steps forward; others are awful and you move four steps backward. That’s when a lot of people feel like throwing the towel. A successful entrepreneur has their bad days but understands that they’re just part of the game. When they take a hit, they pick themselves up and continue pushing forward.
They Are Passionate About Their Businesses
When things get rough, the only way to push through is if you really love what you do and are committed to your vision. If your only motivation is money, I can guarantee that the first time life slaps you in the face, you’ll want to quit and find a job.
They Are Willing to Market and Sell
A lot of people are good at something and they turn that into a business. For example, they’re great at knitting and they start selling sweaters. Or, they make great cookies and they decide to make cookies for a living. A lot of these people make plenty of money doing this and a lot of them never make a dime. The reason? They’re usually not willing to sell their products. Let’s take the lady who makes the best cookies in town. She’ll have to go to all the coffee shops in her area to offer her cookies. She can pack them and sell them to her friends. But, a lot of these people have a really hard time asking for money. And when they do, they ask for too little. Having a great product is very important. Selling it is even more important.
They Know Their Numbers
Passion is really important, but you also need to make money. You need to calculate your fixed and variable costs (whatever you think they are, double them) and your projected revenues (divide your optimistic forecast by five). You need to know your break-even point (how many widgets you need to sell every month to break even) and how to read balance sheets and profit and loss statements. If you don’t know any of this stuff, hit the bookstore or hire an accountant who can explain this to you.
They’re Disciplined
Some days you’ll feel really energized and ready to conquer the world. Other days you’ll feel like staying in bed all day long. It’s really difficult to force yourself to do things when you don’t have a boss to control what you do. Successful entrepreneurs are self-motivated and get things done even when they don’t feel like it.
They Have Integrity
A successful entrepreneur understands that money comes and goes, but your reputation stays with you forever.
They’re Great Communicators
We all think we’re amazing communicators, but in my opinion very few people have great communication skills. Successful entrepreneurs ask questions, listen more than they speak, and when they do speak they do it in an organized way and they cut to the chase. They say what they want, how they want it, when they want it, whom they want it from and why they want it.
They Think Long-Term
Successful entrepreneurs aren’t fooled by those stupid “get rich overnight” schemes. They focus on building a business that will still be around in 20 or 50 years, not on getting some money to pay the bills next month.