As an entrepreneur one of the first things you figure out is you don’t know it all, and you can’t do it all yourself. While your vision for your business is your own, carrying out that vision usually requires working with others; at least that is most often the case. The evolution of an entrepreneur involves a kind of twofold discovery process: as you work on bringing your business to life, you also discover a lot about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. The most successful entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: they know that they have to develop or maintain a few key characteristics to ensure their success. Not everyone’s list will look the same, but we wanted to share ours with you, and if you find it useful, or can relate to it on some level, then perhaps our entrepreneurial journey will have accomplished more than the establishment of our company — we might help someone else who is wondering if they have what it takes to start their own business.
You’d think this trait would go without saying — it might seem pretty evident that entrepreneurs would need an abundance of perseverance. The ability to get back up after you’ve suffered some mighty blows in the business world is something that’s definitely a prerequisite. Often new businesses fail and the owner will start another company, or the business owner may have to ‘pivot’, and the company may look very different on the other side, from what it looked like when it started. These and other scenarios that test a person’s mettle are the hallmark of what an entrepreneur is — he or she is steadfast in the belief that they have something unique to offer, and they are willing to make sacrifices to bring their dream to reality.
2) Goal Setting
As cliche as it sounds, having concrete goals will really make a difference in how much you get accomplished. Writing goals down and attaching dates to them is only the beginning. Break goals up into smaller milestones and attach dates to those, too. Keep breaking tasks down into manageable chunks and assign dates to them. Then delegate some of the tasks. As the entrepreneur you will be busy enough, and you don’t have to do everything. Build a team (even if it’s only one other person or a few part-time people to start) and get things done together.
3) Time Management
That set of 24 hours that we are all allotted goes for entrepreneurs too; business owners don’t get any more time than the rest of us do. Finding time to do everything can seem overwhelming, but becoming an excellent time manager is a skill that most anyone can master with practice, and the right mindset — not every day has to be approached the same way to ensure the best usage of time. Everyone needs some R&R time, but scheduling tasks even in odd moments, can relieve a lot of the time crunches that business owners experience. So can delegating tasks, which is also a skill. If we had to give a directive about time management, it would be to learn how to delegate, then follow through to ensure the tasks have been completed.
4) Don’t take yourself too seriously
So you started a business and you’re hell bent on making a success of it. That’s great. But not everyone you know will be interested in hearing about it all the time, and your friends, spouse, kids and other people in your life will want you to pay attention to them too. Not everyone needs to hear this caveat, but some do. Lighten up. Be dedicated but listen to other people’s ideas and problems, too. Your life will be the richer for it.
5) Have a plan for success
Most business owners started with a business plan, but increasingly these days entrepreneurs have sallied forth without a formalized plan. Whether one writes a detailed plan down or has the image squarely in mind for what needs to be done, some form of planning is essential. It’s okay to do things ‘your way’ and not go with a formal plan, unless, of course, one is vying for venture capital…but even then, a lengthy plan is not only not required, it’s often frowned upon. “Don’t send a 50-page business plan to investors. Nobody reads them and nobody executes them. Investors who want a long plan look bad—so do companies that generate them.” See this resource: What should I send investors? Part 3: Business Plans, NDAs, and Traction
6) Motivate others
Keeping yourself motivated can be a challenge at times, but it’s essential to keep your team motivated. If you’re blessed with people who can self-motivate, it’s still a good idea to keep them energized. This is one benefit of delegating. You will not only get to offload some tasks, you will also empower your team by trusting them to help you accomplish goals.
7) Know how to plan ahead
And again we’re talking about planning. This kind of planning is inevitable if you want to succeed. It is separate from worry. Worry doesn’t accomplish anything constructive, but planning does. Do it alone and with your team and make it a positive activity.
8) Be open to learning from others
This post began by saying that good entrepreneurs know that they can’t get it all done by themselves. Even if no one has ever created a business like yours, there have been people who have gone through many of the same steps: they learned how to grow a business, find the right team members, secure funding, etc. The best ways to do all these things can be learned, sometimes from surprising sources. Stay open-minded and also be willing to share your insights with others.