9 Critical Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs


Successful people are successful for a reason. They have habits that are different from everyone else. These are the nine habits I have found to be common in most entrepreneurs and CEO’s I have studied who have achieved crazy success in their life.

Want crazy success in your life? Read on.

1. Always begin with a goal in mind

Successful entrepreneurs know what the end game is. They start out knowing what they are trying to create even though they may not know how they are going to do this.  It is their ability to have a clear vision of what they are trying to accomplish that helps them to create strategic plans so they can guarantee a higher level of success than most. The average person lacks clarity in what they want to accomplish and waffles when it comes to making decisions. When you are clear on your goal it makes you focus more easily and make decisions faster because you know what the ultimate goal is.

2. Measure your progress all the time

Successful entrepreneurs are not afraid of numbers, in fact it is the opposite. Most of the really successful business operators I know, slice and dice their numbers obsessively looking for wisdom in the data that can help them guide their company to the next level. Many entrepreneurs have never been exposed to the financial side of running a business so they fail to understand what the numbers mean and how to interpret them.  This is something that is completely learnable and as a business owner is critical to your success. Recently on Dragon’s Den, two women pitched a product to the Dragons. They had done $50,000 in sales over the last year with a $19.99 price point in 80 locations. They thought this was great success, the Dragons thought it was a sign of trouble.

I agreed. If you take $50,000 and divide it by 52 weeks you get an average of $961 a week. If you take $961 and divide it by 80 locations that is an average of $12 per location which means that they are selling less than one item per location per week. If you are a retailer, you know that you cannot afford to keep anything on your shelf that sells less than once a week but these women did not see that logic because they were not intimate enough with their numbers.

3. Manage your money and know what you are going to do with it

A mentor of mine once told me it is rare to find someone who knows the details of the numbers in their business and who can manage cash. One thing I know for sure is this – if your bank balance goes up every month, you are spending less than you are bringing in. If it goes down every month, you are spending more than you are making and that is a problem. When you understand how to manage money and cash flow in your business you gain control. Successful entrepreneurs know that money is the key to being able to make strong decisions in your business whether it is to invest, or shelter money. If you don’t have money in your business, you don’t have to worry about these problems. Uber successful entrepreneurs are planning what to do with their money instead of trying to figure out where it comes from.

4. Hire smartly

You cannot do everything in your business. Hiring the right people to do the right things so you have more time to do the things only you can do in your business is what successful entrepreneurs do. They understand that the only way to gain extra time (which ultimately becomes more important to them than money) is to be able to get things done through other people. That does not mean hiring anyone and everyone, it means hiring smartly – those people you need in your business to position it for growth and to do the things you don’t like to do, want to do or are good at doing.

5. Act in spite of fear, take calculated risks

Successful entrepreneurs have fear just like anyone else but they act in spite of their fear. They research and take calculated risks playing close attention to their intuition. They also have usually failed and will tell you stories about mistakes they have made by making the wrong choices. A mentor once told me if half of what you try doesn’t fail, you aren’t trying enough. When you take calculated risks, there is always the risk of failure. A successful entrepreneur knows that failure is an incident, it is not their final destination and they go back to #1 and create another plan to take them closer to their goal.

6. Have uncomfortable conversations with people

Brene Brown says she’d rather chose discomfort over resentment. That’s what successful entrepreneurs do too. They get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations with people because they know communication is a vital part of success in any organization. This means holding team members accountable to high levels of performance and having uncomfortable conversations with your customers when things go sideways. The reality is, stuff happens in every business and the real truth of a successful entrepreneur is how you step up and handle the situation. It starts with communication. This is a critical part of successful behaviour. Not hiding, but rather facing and looking for solutions when there is a problem and openly and honestly communicating with others.

7. Avoid saying yes to everything, (disease to please as coined by Tammy Plunkett) and learn to set and manage expectations

Successful entrepreneurs know how to say no and they are very good at setting expectations around what they can, cannot and will not do. They under promise and over deliver in all aspects of their lives, fully showing up only for those things that are a priority to them. They are focused on the end goal, and do not compromise their efforts by saying yes to things that take them away from that path.

8. Know who your customer is and what they need

This is so important yet so many business owners fail to grasp how it can help them because they are so focused on losing the exception customer. Successful entrepreneurs know they cannot serve everyone and they focus the majority of their efforts on serving the right customer for their business.

9. Build confidence in your self

Successful entrepreneurs make time to invest in themselves and build their self confidence. Most are early morning people who have read, worked out, ate breakfast and planned their day before the other 95% have even gotten out of bed. The reason they are confident in themselves is because they are clear on their goals, comfortable communicating and saying no and use these experiences to build confidence on a daily basis. Being self confident doesn’t mean you never doubt yourself but it does mean that you can rely on yourself to be there and do what needs to be done every time. It is non-negotiable.

Learning is part of being successful too. Whether it is reading, learning how to do new things, working with coaches, mentors, masterminds etc. the successful entrepreneur knows that when they invest in themselves they are investing in the leadership of their company. They invest in themselves on a regular basis, they do not feel ashamed of doing this and are constantly on the look out for what they want to do next. I have spoken to some really successful people who have several mentors and belong to more than one mastermind. They regularly seek out advisers who can help them in their business especially in areas where they lack expertise.

So where do you go to inject yourself with all these habits? I wish I had a one day course I could give you because if I had the perfect answer I would be a gazillionaire.  The one thing I would say is this:

You have success inside of you waiting to come out and play a bigger game <- Tweet this!

Look at this list, identify your own personal gaps and create a plan to strengthen those areas in 2014. I am curious as to how many of these habits you embody as an entrepreneur. Please leave a comment below!


4 thoughts on “9 Critical Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs”

  1. Thanks for this. Some great points in here. It was good to see you break down those numbers in the “measure you progress” section. I appreciate the example of how to organize thoughts and systems as a way of evaluating.

    I do, however, want to stand up for us non morning people. You can have a full day no matter what part of the clock you work on. I get a lot of stuff done at night while you are sleeping, no doubt. We get a bit tired of folks equating morning habits with goodness and wealth. As a musician, much of my work, fun and education happens in the evening hours.

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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