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5 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Boost your business by making these behaviors part of your routine.

Thanks to the Internet and the e-commerce marketplace, it’s clear that each of us has access and opportunity to start up a business. Yes, many will try, yet only some will succeed in building and sustaining their entrepreneurial endeavor.

If all are utilizing the same online market space, what is it that separates those who try from those who triumph? It’s not magic nor simply mounds of money that ensures successful entrepreneurship—it’s the unique habits of in-tune and severely committed business owners that buoys and builds their bottom line.

Here are five key habits of the exceptional entrepreneurs among us, habits that you can adopt in building and growing your business on your way to the winner’s circle.

Habit No. 1: They set their goals, and share them publicly

Although this might sound like a cry for attention or a marketing ploy to whip up some buzz, it’s not. Successful entrepreneurs are driven to set goals (hence, going into business in the first place) and then refine those goals. And while goal refinement might sound like an endless loop of “not quite ready yet,” these successful entrepreneurs determine when their goal is ready enough to go public.

To seek out someone to blame does little to characterize and contain any problems. Successful entrepreneurs know this

Yes, they share that goal publicly—with friends, family and potential customers—thereby forcing a commitment to follow through. The point of making the goals public is to light a fire, so to speak, to ensure they’ll pursue the goal because now others are expecting to see it come to fruition, right? In this way, the entrepreneur adds some public pressure to keep on target to delivering to the goal.

Habit No. 2: They take accountability for everything about their business

Recall the phrase, “the buck stops here”—successful entrepreneurs do, and they are ardent about living up to it every day. Whether business owners work alone or employ a team, they are ever conscious that the originating business idea was theirs, and all that it becomes is driven by them, the owner. For that, they ensure they know what goes on day to day and, more importantly, why it happens and how it affects the business’ bottom line.

If anything goes awry, these honest entrepreneurs recognize it was by their permission (or omission). To seek out someone to blame does little to characterize and contain any problems. Successful entrepreneurs know this. The business begins and ends with them, day in and day out. If a miscalculation occurs, the committed entrepreneur wants to know the particulars so corrective action can be taken, action that begins with their personal accountability from the outset.

Habit No. 3: They’re frustrated by failure, and they do something about it

As a natural extension of acute accountability, failures frustrate the successful entrepreneur. The next step, however, is that the failure isn’t left unchecked to fester and undermine the business or the business owner’s original resolve. Instead, these “failures” are greeted as learning opportunities, highlighting weak spots or untapped opportunities for the business.

The entrepreneur then sets about to adjust an existing goal or to introduce a new goal. When approached in this manner, the unwanted event is essentially no longer a failure—it becomes a success!

Habit No. 4: They often listen more than they talk

A key to developing and adhering to the preceding habits is the successful entrepreneur’s innate desire to become an active listener. If you wondered whether public proclamation of their goals (see Habit No. 1) was an act of simply talking, it can actually be the result of intent listening.

Successful entrepreneurs know that some of their best ideas come to them when they’re not trying to force a breakthrough

The successful entrepreneur considers goals then sets about to learn as much as possible about the viability of the goal. This means engaging others in conversation and listening to feedback received. For an established business, this means asking for customer input then listening, often with follow-up clarification (that is, active listening), to glean information to identify opportunities and formulate subsequent goals.

If a business owner merely talks and talks about business but fails to listen when others have comments, questions, or advice, then the benefits that come from listening are certainly lost.

Habit No. 5: They know when to take a break

You know what is said about “all work and no play”—successful entrepreneurs know it, too. Top-performing businesspeople know the benefit and need to take regular breaks from their work.

From daily breaks to regular vacations, time away from the business can increase results more than working to the point of burnout. The mind requires downtime to refresh and regenerate. The physical body needs to stretch, exercise and be exposed to different environments, climates and situations to operate at peak potential.

Successful entrepreneurs know that some of their best ideas come to them when they’re not trying so hard to force a breakthrough. By getting some regular distance from the work, there’s opportunity for the imagination to step in and deliver solutions (even during sleep). The business person who doesn’t take breaks is also robbed of the reward for his or her efforts. The key is balance and, without it, a business can easily topple despite a worn-out owner’s attempts to be on the job all the time.

Granted, this isn’t a be-all, end-all list of habits practiced regularly by successful entrepreneurs, but these habits are keys to business (and personal) performance and results. Look at how you’re operating your business and see if you’d benefit from adopting some of these habits.

You needn’t take on all at once—try one or two until they truly become habits to you. Then see about taking on another habit that will benefit you and your business. Before too long, you’ll be working as much from habit as you are from deliberate methods. And when what you do becomes the stuff of good habits, it’s not work anymore, it’s just the way you do things every day.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Sam

    My first big lesson in my business undertakings was definitely knowing when to take a break.I just missed that moment and it has taken its toll on me, to the point where I need that break more than ever, at an important point in the new retail season. Rats !!
    At least I know next time…

  • Of course, it applies to ALL businesses, not just online. Lots of basic truths here about doing entrepreneurial business, especially for new businesses.

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