To be successful it is important to have certain habits that you should embrace. For startups, these habits might be different from what successful people already do. I have cruised through several articles, interviews and opinions from successful startup entrepreneurs like Peter Thiel, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson, to bring you a collection of these 10 most important habits of successful startup entrepreneurs:
1. Build a personal brand
The best entrepreneurs understand that branding isn’t just for companies. On the contrary, building a name for yourself as a thought leader in your industry might be exactly what you need to propel your business forward. For this reason, it’s important to look for opportunities to share valuable insight and content with the world. By building a memorable personal brand for yourself, you can also boost the image of your company’s brand.
The early bird catches the worm. As old and cliché as this old proverb sounds, proofs indicate that it is very true. Most successful startup entrepreneurs wake up very early because they know that waking up early helps them start their day earlier and accomplish more. Also, in the morning, your mind is fresher, and it’s easier to concentrate on what you are doing making you accomplish more during the day. If you want to be a successful startup founder, it’s time to stop waking up as late as 10 a.m because the best hours of your day are probably past.
Richard Branson is one of the most renowned entrepreneurs and he says, keeping fit and exercising improves productivity and keeps your mind and body fresh every day. It’s not just Sir Richard Branson who agrees, most startup founders have claimed to be very active when it comes to exercising. The best way to keep your body upbeat, active, fresher and fit is to exercise. Exercising also improves your self-esteem and your body stature. Find ways to exercise regularly if you are a startup entrepreneur and want to stay on top of your game.
3. Take action
Thinking is good when it is done measurably. Taking action is better. For all startups, the path to success is never defined. As time goes by, you have to think and make decisions. Being indecisive leads to overthinking the situation and procrastination. The good thing is most successful startup founders are courageous people, brave enough to take action not knowing the consequences but hoping for the best and prepared for the worst. Taking action allows you to make mistakes, learn and take the right measures next time. You don’t have the experience and it’s possible that you won’t make the right decisions all the time. And that’s OK because that’s an indication of your brevity. Don’t over-think. That leads to procrastination. Be decisive. Make mistakes and learn from them to be a better startup entrepreneur.
4. Customer first
As most startup entrepreneurs will tell you, the customer comes first. The goals of a new startup are to get customers. The more you get and the better you are at retaining them, the better your business gets. Every successful startup founder should know that the startup’s most important mission is to make things better for the existing customer and for the new customer as well. In the true spirit of the Lean Startup, don’t spend unless you are directly or indirectly affecting the customer in a positive way.
5. It’s not worth it if it doesn’t generate revenue
The most successful startup entrepreneurs know that they are nothing without the revenue. No startup is worth it without revenue. If it’s making losses, nobody cares. If it’s not making any money at all, it better be really good. For example, Snapchat and Instagram are really good social media networks that never made money until very recently when they implemented adverts on their platforms. However, these are special because Instagram now has more users (over 300 million) than Twitter and Snapchat has been growing so fast in fact analysts think youths are leaving Facebook for to join it instead. Again, if your startup isn’t making money at all, it better have an awesome dimension to it like Snapchat and Instagram did. Otherwise, if it’s something you love, the general startup rule is that doing something you love should be able to pay you. That’s why musicians sing so well, they love it and secondly because it pays them. Same to actors, doctors, architects, painters, etc. If it’s not generating revenue, the most successful startup entrepreneurs will tell you to put it aside first and focus on something that makes money. After all, money is arguably what runs the world.
6. Great negotiators
Negotiation is a very crucial part of bringing up a successful company. The negotiators are usually very tense because you never know how the negotiations will go. To be a great startup entrepreneur, you have to be an excellent negotiator because you will find yourself in situations where you need to negotiate more often than not. Bill Gates is one of the greatest negotiators ever. As Inc Magazine indicates, Bill Gates has very exceptional negotiating skills and that’s what set him apart from the rest of the tech entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs long ago when they were starting out. That’s why he is one of the richest entrepreneurs today. Majorly, Bill Gates says to keep emotions out of negotiations, be less anxious and stay calm.
7. Success isn’t guaranteed
Excellent startup entrepreneurs know that the world doesn’t owe any founder success. In fact, the world doesn’t owe anyone anything. For every startup therefore, success isn’t guaranteed. And the most successful startup founders know that. Success is born out of hard work, smart work, smart decisions, learning from mistakes, keeping climbing, not dying from the pressure and just keeping going. Don’t start a business with a surety at the back of your mind that it will be successful. You are setting yourself up for failure because what happens if it doesn’t succeed? You will keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting it to finally work out but it won’t. Know that the business could fail and have a plan B if you plan A doesn’t work.
8. Plan your days in advance
Planning your days the night before ensures that when you wake up you have the direction well set up for your day and what you intend to achieve. When you wake up knowing what goals you should be chasing that day you are setting yourself up for a successful day because you are aware that accomplishing the things you should that day get’s you closer to the goal. Also avoids wastage of time beginning to plan your day in the morning.
9. Break bigger objectives into small easily achievable goals
One of the greatest secrets to achieving success is breaking bigger tasks to smaller pieces that are easily achievable. Lewis Howes, a Forbes contributor, writes about how thinking small is the greatest component of success. In this article, he breaks down one “Think Big” goal into small “Think Small” goals in a strategy aimed at making objectives more achievable. When you break down a big task, goal or objective into smaller pieces, achieving the bigger goal or objective becomes easier because every time you solve one smaller piece, you are edging closer to solving the entire puzzle. To break a bigger task into smaller tasks, follow these steps (Originally from University of Georgia’s blog):
- Look at the big picture; make sure you understand what the end product is supposed to look like.
- Examine the parts of the task. Figure out step-by-step what you need to do because it’s not going to happen through magic.
- Think about the logical order of completing the pieces. What should you do first, second, third, etc.?
- Create a timeline for completing your tasks. Having a deadline will make you more focused for each task.
- Have a plan to help you stay on track. Put the time you will spend on the project into your schedule so that you can set aside the time for it. Stick with this plan. A plan is only good if you see it through.
- Complete your task early enough to have some time left for a final review.
Breaking tasks down to smaller ones is an aspect of great growth hacking. Growth hacking involves setting up smaller goals for your startup, achieving these goals through testing, marketing, analyzing results and making further decisions, corrections and ways forward.
10. Understand that you may have to work during weekends
Weekends are important times for busy people. Usually you are supposed to catch up with your family, friends and other social commitments. It is the norm for successful people, or those ones not very much committed to a particular cause. However, for a startup entrepreneur, there is nothing like a norm.
Sometimes there will be too much work. In fact, when you are starting out your business, it’s possible to have no weekend for you at all. Or maybe there will be, just that you will be toiling your way through it. That’s very normal because as a startup entrepreneur you will sometimes be doing more work than everybody else. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to relax at all. Find breaks in your weekend for a few minutes, or hours. For example, working straight for 4 hours then taking a 1-hour break interval is good to go. Don’t overwork though, and find how you can balance your working weekends with your family or friends and other parts of your social life.
Have you anything to add to these habits of successful startup entrepreneurs? Let us know by leaving your opinion in our comments section below.