It's been seven years since I left my full-time job as an Associate Dean of Student Development and Associate Professor of doctoral research and studies. While my first business venture started out as a side-hustle, I quickly realized that my true path and calling was in the entrepreneurial world.
Over these past seven years I've learned a lot about business, myself, and what it takes to run a successful venture. While my focus and mission has evolved, the habits I've developed have only served to fuel my growth each year.
Every career has a set of habits that greatly increase the odds of success, and these habits will vary from person to person and from career to career. Here are my top 8 that have served me well.
Habit #1: A strong work ethic. As an entrepreneur the good news is that you have a lot of freedom. The bad news is also that you have a lot of freedom. In order to not to squander that time you have to develop a schedule, create boundaries, and be disciplined in doing what's necessary to advance the needle on your business. While I'm a get-it-done girl and have a strong work ethic, I'm not very disciplined. So it took some work to build this into my practice.
Habit #2: Work in your strengths. Admittedly, this is probably a more recent discovery, but it has nonetheless changed the game in my business. When you first start your business you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, but it's not what's going to help you grow your business. As my business grew, I knew it was important to start bringing on team members so I could stay focused within my zone of genius. When you own a business, it's up to you to ensure that things are done properly and on time, but the responsibilities to make that happen don't have to remain on your shoulders.
Habit #3: Use time wisely. In other words, learn to say NO! Time will always be a limited resource and it's one of the precious commodities you have as an entrepreneur. When you're starting out (and feeling the pressure of earning an income) it's easy to say yes to everything that comes your way. However, you'll soon find that you're giving away your time or mismanaging it, instead of using it wisely. How you use your time dictates how successful your company ultimately becomes. That means having the knowledge and experience to make wise decisions and the mental toughness to avoid distractions and just say NO.
Habit #4: Have a plan each day. This goes hand-in-hand with habit #3. It's important that you master your calendar or it will master you. Your daily game plan should come your most recent 90-day plan you've developed. If you have created a 90-day plan you'll find yourself spinning your wheels and doing busy work, as opposed to income generating work, everyday. When your feet hit the bedroom floor, you should already know what needs to be done for the day.
Habit #5: Work your mindset. As an entrepreneur you are going to be plagued with (a) self-doubt, (b) fear, (c) comparison-itis, (d) overwhelm, and (e) self-worth. Running a successful business is more of a mind game then you realize. As an employee, there's not only the built in security of support but a bi-weekly paycheck. That safety net is removed when you start your own business and it makes it easy to start questioning your decision to even start a business. Every year in my business I had a "mindset hurdle" to get over so I invested in coach early on and have had one every step of the way. In addition, I have a support system with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
Habit #6: Stay open and flexible. Your business will grow and develop because you'll grow and develop in the process. You'll start to learn what works and what does, what type of clients you prefer to work with, and even the way you work may shift over time. If you don't allow yourself to stay open to the process and make the necessary adjustments, you won't last very long.
Habit #7: Deal with stress effectively. Entrepreneurs have plenty of stress to deal with on a regular basis, so it's important to learn how to manage it. I had to learn when to recognize when I was feeling stress and develop a process for dealing with it. It's important to learn to recognize what you can control and what you cannot.
Habit #8: Expect and look for obstacles. You can avoid being blindsided by obstacles and setbacks by expecting them....because they will come. Look ahead for the challenges that you're likely to face and have solutions in mind. While you can't prepare for all of the, it's important to not put your head in the sand and hope for the best. Watch how you deal with fear (or those other things mentioned in Habit #5) so that you don't start blaming, rationalizing, hiding or making excuses. Deal with challenges up front so they remain manageable.
What are your current habits? Do they match this list? Would add a few more? Can you see why your current habits have either helped you or harmed you on your path to business success?
I hope the lessons I've learned serve as hope and encouragement for you. Think about what you want to accomplish and your desired level of success. Then make sure you build a set of habits that will support you all the way to the finish line.
Live, laugh and unapologetically shine,
P.S. Download a copy of my 9 Tips for Business Success and use it in conjunction with the habits you've learned here.