I consider myself highly fortunate to be a successful inventor of 20 years’ standing.
In an article for Black Enterprise, Bevolyn Williams-Harold, Editorial Researcher, mentions that only one in 5,000 inventions make money, and despite living most of my life as a rather shy person who felt safer out of the lime light than in it, I had no choice but to come out of the shadows in order to bring my own products to the global market – no one volunteered to do it for me, despite my hopes that it might of happened that way. There lay my first lesson, and it's one that every successful entrepreneur will learn early on, I had to claim personal responsibility for how my journey in business would evolve, or suffer the consequences of failure.
I have experienced every stage of the business cycle, from concept, through to the finished product before building a multi-faceted business framework around it, and with that insight (ever so slightly biased from an inventor’s perspective) I have come up with 10 habits of successful entrepreneurs:
Entrepreneurs know how to deal with the naysayers The reason people start a business isn't because they need to prove others wrong, although that can become a consequence of what happens. It is because they need to prove themselves right. Those who become successful entrepreneurs learn how to deal with the inevitable scattering of naysayers and use their negative comments to fuel their desire to move through each stage of their business. They forget the messenger but hold their message close – they just refuse to take it personally – unlike lesser mortals who hold onto resentment and bitterness.
Entrepreneurs possess more than passionPassion alone isn't enough to keep a successful entrepreneur from deviating from their business goal or game plan. Boxer Mike Tyson famously said: ‘Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.’
Instead entrepreneurs work towards acquiring a sustainable desire to succeed, which is often fuelled by a clear vision they hold in their mind, and just like a warning light, the vision flashes vividly when the body blows rein in and keeps them on their feet.
Entrepreneurs exploit their naivety to the fullEveryone is naive in one way or another right? Most of us simply don't want to be seen as naive while the very best entrepreneurs don't care, as long as it gets them what they want, and it often does. Rather than miss an opportunity through lack of knowledge entrepreneurs ‘jump off the cliff’ if they have to and ‘build their wings on the way down.’
Such a leap of faith shouldn't be the common theme running through any business, but there will be times when it beats being paralysed in the gaze of the headlights and losing out on the big prize.
Entrepreneurs seek inspirationEvery aspiring business person seeks inspiration through learning from those entrepreneurs who have made it to the top, usually by reading their books and articles.
Finding time to read the books and articles and learn from those who have gone through the trouble of telling us exactly how they did it (for only a small investment of a few pounds) must be an essential part of every entrepreneurs’ education.
Many of the world's elite entrepreneurs read dozens of books every year. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and the world's second richest businessman, according to Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list, reads approximately 50.
Entrepreneurs build a premium product or serviceThe habit of creating a product or service that people need and will pay a premium to use is the goal of every great entrepreneur. They need to be absolutely certain that whatever they are trying to improve, a process or application for example, is needed to the extent that people would be willing to pay a premium to get it.
The need to make so much money sounds like the wrong footing from which to start a project, but it is the only sensible way to approach it. The truth is, genuinely successful entrepreneurs who are willing to push through the barriers at each stage of their business journey often end up employing the most talented people and implementing the best sales and marketing strategies money will buy.
Entrepreneurs make their product or service sexyIt's a simple fact, no one will consider paying premium prices for your product or service if it isn't highly polished, or dare I say, sexy?
Look no further than the super-cool and colourful range of iPhones or the dynamic array of Dyson vacuum cleaners. Now imagine these products looking dull with no colour and with a basic design. Yes they might still have the same function but who would buy them? Perceived value is key and helps a product stand out from the competition.
Entrepreneurs embrace failureMost business people do their best to avoid failure while successful entrepreneurs embrace it.
Every failure or dead-end idea is an important and essential step to finding the solution they are seeking. They know that finding out what doesn’t work is a step closer to knowing what does. So-called failures that arise are usually documented by those striving for excellence so they are not repeated in the future. No one put it better than famous US inventor Thomas Edison when he said: ‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work.’
Entrepreneurs get up earlySuccessful entrepreneurs love to start their day early and take advantage of such tranquillity over a healthy breakfast. Clicking into business mode, usually dressed to impress, at a time most of us are still asleep gives them the head start they feel is essential to their daily routine. It's often a productive time for pinging out emails or sorting out their social media before the phones start ringing. These people want their messages to be the first others see when they log on to their computers a few hours later.
Entrepreneurs adopt a childlike inquisitivenessDon't you just love it when a three-year-old child bombards a parent with so many questions, most of which they can't answer? ‘What colour eyes does a spider have?’ Or ‘why are Daddy's side burns grey?’
Those who aspire to the highest echelon in their business sector understand that young children hunt down the answers they need to know before schooling begins to conform them. Childlike inquisitiveness is edgy and refreshing in a boardroom and can inspire the imagination and push the boundaries of the most rigid conformist.
Entrepreneurs grab the right opportunitiesA successful entrepreneur attracts opportunities all of the time, but has the good sense to know they can't grab them all, so they go for the best ones. So many business people get into bad habits of spreading themselves too thinly, trying to juggle all the balls thrown in the air, worried if one or two fall into the hands of someone else.
Letting go of those opportunities that don't bear fruit is a good thing, it frees us up to focus on those few that do. This is a difficult discipline to master, but the best entrepreneurs practice it with ease.
Graham Harris is founder and Managing Director of Tech-ni-Fold Ltd and Creasestream LLP, global leaders in print creasing technology. His invention has saved customers over £8 billion.
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