Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of mental toughness. Not even a “Masters” in entrepreneurship prepares you for the journey that lies ahead. Instead, the best lessons are learnt from experience and by observing those who’ve already achieved their goals. Adopting and inculcating these healthy habits gradually leads to exceptional leadership, improved decision making and adaptability, making you a successful startup founder.
Here are the 50 best entrepreneurial traits and habits of startup founders:
#1. Passionate about work - You live to create the next breakthrough product and see the smiles on the faces of your customers. Work is not just about the paycheck, but making a difference to people and ultimately the world you live in.
#2. Adapt as per the needs of the market and customers - The needs of the customers change with the changes in society. Learn to adapt and iterate quickly to meet these changing needs.
#3. Industry expertise - As said by the founder of Zappos, “Don’t play games you don’t understand, even if you see lots of people making money from it.” A thorough understanding of your industry is vital to succeed.
#4. Deliver more than expected - Google’s Larry Page encourages entrepreneurs to deliver more than the customer’s expectation. This helps in getting noticed and creating more brand advocates.
#5. Invest in yourself - Spend time to improve yourself. In his email to employees on his first day as the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella said, “I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete.”
#6. Go that extra mile - Overachieve at even the smallest activities of your life.
#7. Constant learning - You can’t build a business on something you don’t know, nor can you build products using outdated technology. Knowing the pulse of the industry and the latest discoveries are essential for an entrepreneur. Learn something new every day.
#8. SWOT analysis – Observe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats present in every task. #9. Take and give feedback – Honestly let people know how they’re doing. Simultaneously, listen to people on how you can do better.
#10. Know your customer –Keep your customers as close as your family. Know them better than any of your competitors to serve them the solutions they need.
#11. Be accessible – Be accessible for questions, concerns and conversations. Give praise, guidance and feedback throughout the day.
#12. Give back to the community – Volunteer when you have time. This means meeting new people and making a positive contribution to your community.
#13. Help people – Zig Zaglar said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people to get what they want.”
#14. Network, network, network – Network not just to find potential clients, but also to meet others who share the same passion you have and can be helpful in moving further.
#15. Read a lot – Fiction or non-fiction, absorb new information from books, news or articles. Get new perspectives to expand your thinking.
#16. Meditation – Like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Steve Jobs, meditate to rewire your brain, reduce stress and enhance your creativity and focus.
#17. Regular exercise – A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. The benefits of daily workouts include becoming more competitive and self-disciplined, recharging your brain and keeping yourself mentally sharp.
#18. Be humble – You don’t let your ego take hold of your personality. Be approachable to people.
#19. Trust your instincts – Trusting your gut is a double-edged sword. Combine data with instincts when you need to make the toughest decisions.
#20. Live frugally – Staying frugal means spending your funds wisely. Prioritising investments to give solid returns helped Warren Buffet become one of the richest men in the world.
#21. Eliminate distractions – Get rid of things that prevent your from working or achieving something. Make everything as efficient as possible.
#22. Strive to be better, not perfect – Trying to achieve perfection often prevents us from making things good. You will never be perfect, but make sure you continuously strive to be better.
#23. See the potential in everyone – Have the ability to spot the strengths and weaknesses in an individual and bring out the best in him.
#24. Learn from failure – Stumbling or failing is not a setback; rather, it is an opportunity to learn and become smarter.
#25. Be confident in your abilities – Have a realistic idea about your strengths and weaknesses. Never sell yourself or your ability short.#26. Say no – Don’t be a people pleaser. Let go of an opportunity if it doesn’t feel right. This will free up your time and help you concentrate on your business goals.
#27. Take calculated risks – “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision,” said Peter Drucker. Take calculated and intelligent risks.
#28. Dream bigger – Demand more from yourself in every task.
#29. Be an innovator – Change is an inescapable reality in business. Ensure that you always innovate to stay ahead of the game.
#30. Focus on solutions – Teach people how to identify and solve a problem instead of focusing on whose fault it is.
#31. Be a negotiator – Ensure that while negotiating, all parties at the table are winners. An imbalanced negotiation will damage business relations in the long run.
#32. Don’t fear competition – Having competition means that there’s a market for your business. Use that knowledge to outdo your rivals.
#33. Be with good people – As said by Reid Hoffman, “The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already where you want to be.”
#34. Move on when you can’t go further – Failure is inevitable, yet not easy to accept. When things aren’t working out even when you’ve done your best, the shop has to be closed.
#35. Don’t entirely rely on other people’s advice - While people and mentors offer assistance, at the end, you run the show and are responsible for the failure or success of your company. Understand what worked and what didn’t, and polish your skills and knowledge for the betterment of your business
#36. Be a salesman – Master the art of persuading your potential customers to adopt your product. While half of it is mental toughness, being able to endure 100 ‘no’s to get that one ‘yes’, the other half is the ability to understand your customers and sway them. #37. Wake up early – Successful entrepreneurs leave their bed long before most of us hit the snooze button. Wake up early to increase your productivity and feel a sense of accomplishment.
#38. Run marathons, not sprints – Deciding to run the marathon called entrepreneurship means preparing to run, fall, recover and repeat the process multiple times until you succeed.
#39. Plan and strategise every move – As the saying goes- “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Make a roadmap that helps you understand the next step you should take to achieve your goals.
#40. Outsource – Do only what you can do the best and outsource or delegate the rest.
#41. Do not shy away from making tough choices – Business leaders don’t flinch from making hard choices head on. From recruiting the best talent to legal issues, make the calls to move forward.
#42. Never stop coming up with ideas – Your mind is an idea generator. The more ideas you generate, the better the chances of coming up with a profitable idea.
#43. Be a go-getter – Excuses are unproductive. Like lifelong achievers, move past self-doubt and march ahead towards your goals. If Mark Zuckerberg can find time to run half marathons, you can’t give excuses for failing to march towards your goals.
#44. Perseverance – When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Keep going and never give up, irrespective of the countless times you fail.
#45. Never be satisfied with your achievements – While you can bask in the glow of your accomplishments, never be complacent. #46. Live for challenges - What’s the point in doing something that anyone can do? Working hard to achieve great things that are challenging gives one a gratified feeling.
#47. Share credit – Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg once said, “A great boss gives credit to everyone else when things are going well.” While it’s easy to criticise your employees, take out time to point out what they are doing right.
#48. Blog regularly – There’s nothing shameful in sharing your victories and struggles with your customers. In fact, they appreciate honesty. Regular writing makes you a better thinker and communicator.
#49. Every complaint is a lesson in disguise – As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Unhappy users tell you about the loopholes in your product or service.
#50. Be trustworthy – Live by the ethos of integrity, competence and commitment. Communicate honestly and transparently with team members and customers.
There isn’t such a thing as a perfect entrepreneur, and no one becomes successful overnight. Even if you don’t possess these habits, you’ll develop them over time. As the old saying goes, “Being an entrepreneur is a way of living, not a job or hobby”.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)