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Five habits of highly-effective entrepreneurs

Since birth, 918 New Zealanders (now in their 40s) have been the source of data for a research project looking at the relationship between genetic profiles and success, cleverly dubbed the “success gene theory.” The ongoing research has shown a small relationship between genetic makeup and a person’s likelihood to have more prestigious occupations, higher incomes, better wealth management, and higher social mobility.

However, the research indicates that the relationship only accounts for a few percentage points in variation and that there are many other factors that determine one’s success. While genetics might play a role in setting people up to succeed, it’s clear that there are many other, controllable factors that can lead you down the path of success.

Many of these factors are dictated by your personal and professional habits. Below are five habits of highly effective entrepreneurs that you should consider following in order to increase your chances of success.

Obsess over efficiency

To be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need to wear a ton of hats. You may have to handle accounting, marketing, manufacturing, sales, and any other number of business processes. This holistic view of your company can help you find inefficiencies. Great entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to streamline or improve inefficiencies in product and process.

Benjamin Franklin is known for his innovation and entrepreneurship, but he also used his experience and knowledge of running a successful wholesale paper business to land a job as the deputy postmaster of Philadelphia. Using his expertise, Franklin built an inter-colonial communications network and cut the delivery time between Philadelphia and New York to a single day. Entrepreneurs must obsess over finding solutions to inefficiencies in their company.

Delegate responsibilities

Many entrepreneurs are doers. Initiative and drive are what lead these entrepreneurs to start their companies. However, that same drive can make it difficult or uncomfortable to delegate responsibilities or tasks to others. Working smarter, not harder requires delegating decisions, tasks, and other elements of your business operations to capable employees. To become a successful entrepreneur, get in the habit of delegating.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, shares his advice on delegation. He follows the “two pizza rule” which claims that if you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, then your team is too big to manage. This is particularly true for delegation. When smaller teams work on a task, there is more accountability, creative freedom, and investment in the outcome. The larger the team, the more difficult communication becomes and the harder it is to hold individuals accountable.

Focus on customers

Successful entrepreneurs understand how valuable “the customer” is to the growth of business. “The customer” isn’t some revenue total, marketing analysis, or collective segment. “The customer” is an understanding that each of your clients is an individual. Great entrepreneurs understand this principle and are habitually drawn to customizing each, individual customer experience, regardless of their lifetime value.

Customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention are key steps in the growth of a startup. Get in the habit of understanding customers on an individual level and do your best to engage with them whenever possible. Never forget your customer.

Former President Barack Obama had a goal when he took office–read ten letters a day from the over 10,000 submitted. He believed this would give him a pulse on the country he was running. To accomplish this, he had 50 staff members, 46 interns, and 300 volunteers read through all the daily letters and recommend the top 10 to him. Sometimes, he’d even respond personally. Entrepreneurs that can keep this diligence and commitment to understanding and satisfying each, individual customer will reap the rewards.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Most people think that being a successful entrepreneur requires coming up with “The Next Big Idea.” That just isn’t true. Successful entrepreneurs are creative and look for new opportunities to use resources to improve a process or idea. They don’t always need to invent a new product or concept, but rather find ways to use new technology or strategies to fix an old problem.

For instance, Dai Wei is the 25-year-old CEO of ofo, a Chinese-based bike-sharing startup that recently raised $100 million in venture capital. The concept behind ofo isn’t unfamiliar–use a smartphone app to find, access, and pay for the transportation service. The concept is very similar to ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft and aims to resolve some of the issues associated with traditional bike rental services like convenience, payment flexibility, and a better user experience.

The example above shows how you don’t have to reinvent the wheel (no pun intended) to be a successful entrepreneur. Use resources to further your business and find ways to let technology streamline your inefficiencies. Find what works in another industry and try to replicate the process in a new one. Focus on solving problems in an industry and look for ways to improve concepts, processes, or ideas.

Keep a journal

Writing in a journal is a popular habit of many successful entrepreneurs. It can help you record important information, release thoughts and feelings, and help you track your personal and professional goals and growth.

Matt Mayberry, a former NFL player and keynote speaker, believes he has reaped unbelievable benefits from journaling. It allows him a place to see his daily progress, capture important quotes or sayings, and analyze himself. Committing to journaling is not easy, but if you can turn it into a daily habit, you’ll find it therapeutic and inspiring. To further support journaling, a study by Dr. Gail Matthews found that you are 42% more likely to achieve goals after writing them down.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur may not be in your genes, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. There are real steps that you can take to increase your personal and professional trajectory. By developing the habits above, you can follow the footsteps of many other successful entrepreneurs before you.

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  1. Avatar Ronan Leonard

    I’ve been using the 5 minute journal for the past 12 months and love the routine. Especially the reflection at the end of the day and what could have been done better.

    Definitely helps me stay on track to achieve my goals.

    1. Avatar Derek Miller

      Thanks Ronan — great response. I’ve personally tried journalling and it is difficult for me, so what I’ve been doing instead is writing at least 250 words towards an article everyday that relates to my knowledge/expertise. This is a great way for me to keep abreast of the industry and once I finish an article — I can send it out to be published and build my brand.. As far as it’s ability to make more or less effective, that’s yet to be determined.

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