Whether you’re thinking about starting your own business or already running one, you’ve probably looked at entrepreneurs who have found success and wondered, “How did they do it?” Of course, there’s no simple answer to that question; every path to success is different. But despite those different paths, it is possible to identify some common habits shared by successful founders.
From rap moguls to titans of agriculture—see how many of the below habits you share, and how many you need to embrace in order to reach your goals.
1. Their passion outweighs their desire to make money.
Get-rich-quick schemes are called “schemes” for a reason—they usually don’t work. If you want to develop and grow a successful business, you need to be in it for the right reasons. Namely, because you truly believe in it and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs begin with a passion, and the wealth and recognition they receive come as a pleasant surprise. So why not plan to profit from the get-go? According to Forbes, “…if your primary objective is to get rich quick, you are bound to cut corners, short-change your customers, and fail to take the time to truly understand what the market needs.”
2. They don’t let obstacles stop them.
Did you know that Jay-Z couldn’t get a record deal when he was first starting out? The record companies that turned him down are probably face-palming now, but back then they just weren’t feeling him. Of course, Jay didn’t let that stop him. He decided to take matters into his own hands and began selling CDs out of the trunk of his car.
“We knew we had something the people wanted, so instead of quitting we built it ourselves,” Jay-Z told BBC Radio.
And once the record companies started knocking on Jay’s door, he’d already had a taste of doing things his own way. Instead of signing up to work for someone else, he and his business partners established the brazenly named Roc-A-Fella Records. And it seems that the name was more than just a nod to one of the richest families in the world; it was a declaration.
Today, Jay is worth an estimated $520 million — in part because he never took “no” for an answer.
3. They find the right people to work with, and treat those people well.
The old saying “a man is known by the company he keeps” can be easily applied to the business world. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “Fully 95 percent of your success as an entrepreneur or executive will be determined by the quality of the people you recruit to work with you or to work on your team.”
And more than that, you should treat those people well to keep them around and motivated. Harry Stine is the owner of Stine Seed, the largest private seed company in the world. Stine has not only revolutionized the agricultural industry to the tune of $3 million, he’s also looked out for his employees along the way.
Several years ago, Stine gave an $1,000 bonus to each employee for every year they’d be with the company. And this past Christmas, he gave each employee a dollar per hour raise. “We don’t do things like that to be nice, we do it because it’s good business,” Stine told Forbes. “I just know as a company it’s better for us to have our people feeling good.”
4. They know their strengths and weaknesses.
Attaining success as an entrepreneur requires a combination of confidence and humility. You need to own your expertise, but be ready to admit when you could use some advice or assistance. This is why so many successful businesses are built on teams or partnerships, allowing each person to play to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.
5. They listen to their customers.
No amount of hard work or innovation will matter if you aren’t listening to the needs and opinions of your customers. That’s why Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, still accept flavor suggestions from customers.
It’s also why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is so passionate about customer service. After hiring, each Zappos staff member—regardless of their position—goes through the same training as their Customer Loyalty Team (customer service representatives), including 2 weeks on the phone taking calls from actual customers.
“This goes back to our belief that customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company,” says Hsieh.
If you found yourself nodding in agreement to the qualities listed above, you’re already well on your way to a bright entrepreneurial future. Keep studying and learning from the people who came before you, and soon you’ll be passing on your own wisdom to a new generation of innovators.
Ready to break out on your own?