The United States exhibits the highest rates of entrepreneurship in the developed world: Entrepreneurs account for 14 percent of the U.S. working age population. While many of these independent workers come from younger generations just beginning to get their feet wet in the wild world of business, many have been around for some time.
One trait all nearly all these entrepreneurs share is that they’ve developed specific habits that help them be successful. Over time, they test and experiment and figure out what works best for them — habits you too can learn from, to improve your life business.
1. Get up early.
It’s hardly a shock to recognize that adding more hours to your day lets you accomplish more. Many entrepreneurs make it a habit to leave the pillow behind long before the rest of society hits the snooze button. Starbucks President Michelle Gaas, for example, gets up at 4:30 a.m. to go running, as early risers face fewer distractions and enjoy the opportunity to start their day off on a positive note.
2. Keep good company.
Friends are great to have around, especially when they drive you to become a better person and push you to new heights. Long-term entrepreneurs — including everyone from Seth Godin to James Altcher to Jayson Gaignard — make sure to associate themselves with others who are successful, often in the form of mastermind groups and dinners.
3. Plan and strategise.
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Those looking to build companies and create wealth always have a plan. They know what the goal is and where they are in regards to achieving it at all times. A plan serves as a road map, helping you understand what steps are coming next. It also keeps you accountable to your goals. If you know you’re aiming to hit $5 million in revenue next year, your plan tells you how you’ll accomplish it.
4. Always keep learning.
There’s something new to learn everyday, and there’s a better tool to use introduced every year (heck, every week or month in some industries). Lifelong achievers realize this and constantly look for the next thing to propel them toward their goals. Don’t think you have enough money or the right advanced degree? Hundreds of self-education options are available online.
5. See opportunities, not failure.
Like anyone else, successful entrepreneurs can’t always stop bad things from happening, but they can choose their reactions. So, be like them and waste no time on self-pity: Rather use the time to learn new lessons and overcome obstacles. The co-founders of KISSMetrics, for instance, spent $1 million on a product they never launched. The CEO of Moz admits to having wasted years on projects with little visibility or ROI. These things didn’t sink their companies; they just allowed the founders to learn and move on, with an improved focus and vision.
6. Never stop coming up with ideas.
Entrepreneurs are idea machines. Not every idea is a profitable one, but true businesspeople believe the more ideas they can generate, the better their chances are of coming up with a really good one. No matter how many projects they’ve completed, lifelong entrepreneurs keep dreaming and thinking about the next one. Thomas Edison is credited with over 1,000 U.S. patents, Ted Turner is involved in a variety of ventures from television stations to restaurants and today, Magic Johnson Enterprises is worth over $700 million.
7. Make things happen instead of making excuses.
Excuses are not productive. So why spend time on them? Lifelong achievers move forward past the naysayers and the excuse creators and march straight toward their goals. Even CEOs experience self-doubt, but they overcome it and move on anyway. If Oprah Winfrey can find the time and confidence to run a marathon, you certainly don’t have any excuse for why you can’t reach your goals.
There are countless stories out there of entrepreneurs who failed miserably, including plenty who failed multiple times. But they kept going — and thank goodness they did. Think of all the inventions and products we wouldn’t have if entrepreneurs gave up the first time something didn’t work. Arianna Huffington faced serious criticism when she started The Huffington Post, but she didn’t quit. Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, before returning several years later to save the company. When Christina Wallace’s company Quincy Apparel shut down, she spent three weeks in bed. But the deciding factor for all of these entrepreneurs was the same — they never gave up.
9. Have a passion for your work.
Successful people are passionate about what they do. Entrepreneurs know they’re making a difference in the lives around them and, ultimately, the world in which they live. They don’t show up just for a paycheck; they live for the next breakthrough and the smiles on the faces of their customers. Entrepreneurs who are passionate are more motivated, have more social capital and over time sell more, earn more and build a stronger following.
10. Run a marathon, not a sprint.
Entrepreneurship can be quite a rollercoaster, both mentally and financially. Those that choose this life realize that a single day may not seem to make a difference, but a lifetime of those days can result in massive success. Lifelong entrepreneurs take periods of time where they relax and recharge and then return to work, more determined than ever.
11. Face hard choices head on.
There are few black and white choices for entrepreneurs these days. Everything is set in a gray scale, and few things are clear. Yet, despite this obstacle, diehard entrepreneurs don’t shy away from the tough choices. They understand that tough choices are inevitable to be a pioneer in business, so they make those calls and move forward. Business leaders face challenges, ranging from recruiting top talent to dealing with legal regulations, but they never flinch.