Every year over 400,000 people start a business with the hope of being a successful entrepreneur
in the UK alone. Clearly, the number started globally must run into millions. Unfortunately, only 20% of those companies will survive long enough to celebrate their 5th anniversary, and only 20% of those will survive long enough to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
To save you doing the math, only 4% of all new companies formed will survive at least ten years. For anyone contemplating starting a new business or already running a business, the question of what makes a successful entrepreneur is essential.
Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Success in business
is not determined by age, sex, race, religion, intelligence, or education, but successful entrepreneurs do have a few things in common.
There have been many answers to the question of what makes a successful entrepreneur. Some people think entrepreneurs are born, others that they are made. Some see entrepreneurs as passionate leaders with a tunnel vision that is focused on one objective, while others describe them as compulsive control freaks. Some commentators say entrepreneurs are risk-takers, while others say they are risk-averse. Who are we to believe?
All of these words may describe some entrepreneurs, but they do not represent all successful entrepreneurs. It is my position that all pre-eminently successful entrepreneurs will have the following traits in common.
1. Successful Entrepreneurs Never Stop Learning and growing.
No one can possibly know everything they need to know about running a business. As we all know, the world is changing at an ever-increasing pace, and the only way to keep up with the change is to keep learning and keep adapting. If you believe your business can be the same in five years as it is today, then I feel that sadly you are about to join the 96% who do not survive.
As it happens, all business skills and behavior can be learned through study and practice. Why is it so important that an entrepreneur concentrates upon her education and growth?
If at this moment you own and manage a business turning over $1,000,000, and you wish to turn it into a business with a $3,000,000 turnover, you must first be big enough as a businessperson to run a $3,000,000 business. As the owner and manager of the business, you set the tone. If you wish to double the size of your business, start by going to work on yourself and becoming a person who can manage a business of that size.
2. Successful Entrepreneurs are Willing to Seek Advice
Trying to reinvent the wheel on a regular basis takes far too long. Sure, you may be able to find the answer to every problem on your own, but how much more would you get done if you simply asked someone who already had the answer and then adapted it to your needs.
Thinking you have to do everything yourself is an excellent way to join the 96% club. No one can know everything, and no one can do everything. Do the things you are good at and set up systems to ensure the rest gets done.
We will come back to the vital area of systems shortly.
3. Successful Entrepreneurs Never Give Up
We all have bad days; we all have bad weeks, and at times we can have what seems like a disastrous year. If you wish to be successful, you will face many challenges that will leave you feeling like giving up at times. Give up, and you fail, it is as simple as that.
When I am having a hard time as I do from time to time, just like everyone else, I read the following poem. Why not frame it and put it on a wall in your office?
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit –
Rest, if you must, but don’t quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turn about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
S0 stick to the fight when your hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
4. Successful Entrepreneurs Focus on Marketing
Most entrepreneurs are not trained in marketing. Most people start a business in a field they understand. Accountants start accountancy practices, and mechanics start a garage. Unfortunately repairing cars and preparing accounts will not bring in business. If you wish to be a successful entrepreneur, you must take an interest in and become a student of marketing.
Marketing will drive your business forward because, without it, you will not have many clients. If you need to help, they get some help. Successful entrepreneurs are not afraid to seek advice. Whatever else you do, you must develop a marketing focus to succeed with your business.
5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Willing to Test and Measure
Whatever you are doing in any aspect of your business, you can be sure of one thing: there is a better way of doing it; you just have not found it yet. Successful entrepreneurs are willing to test everything and measure the results to establish what works and what does not.
Most times, if you try something new, you do not know if it will work. Test small and measure the results. If the test works, then roll the latest idea out. If the test is a failure, try something new.
You should always be trying something new and improving both the business and you. Constant small improvements will soon move you well ahead of your competition because most of your game will be doing the same things in the same way in two, three- or four years. Will you?
6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Systems Orientated.
Michael Gerber teaches us that all great entrepreneurs are systems thinkers. Your business should not be a group of people, but a system run by people. The methods should do the work while the people run the system. Systems will set you free. With systems, your business is not dependent upon a few key people – including you. If someone leaves, they are easier to replace. If you wish to take a couple of months of the business will not collapse while you are away.
If the performance of your business is not as good as you would like to stop blaming your staff and take a look at the systems you are using, with sound systems in place, you can work as much or as little in your business as you choose. As a bonus, you will find the methods substantially increase the value of your business when you come to sell.