Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. They have a distinctive drive and determination, tirelessly pursuing the object of their desires regardless of just how many times they might fail.
And fail they do.
In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world have failed the most times. But that’s not all that sets them apart. The really great entrepreneurs have a set of good habits that make them, well, great.
While most of us might embody some of the good habits of really great entrepreneurs, the trick is to embody them all. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, or you have that innate sense of drive akin only to entrepreneurs, then take note. Because, if you want to succeed — and I mean really succeed — you need these good habits to help bring your dreams to life.
As an entrepreneur, there will be days when you want to give up. There will be days when you want to tear your hair out and scream from the top of your lungs. But there will also be days that you’ll win those small victories, and be filled with a strong sense of accomplishment. Over time, as those small victories add up, you’ll look back and wonder why you didn’t start earlier.
So, no matter what stage of the “game” you’re in, whether you’re just starting to think about opening up shop, or you’re in the midst of it right now, hustling hard day in and day out, be sure to embody these following 17 good habits of really great entrepreneurs. Do that, and the only the thing that will separate you from greatness is time.
#1 — They Wake up Early
One of the best habits that you can adopt to become a really great entrepreneur is to wake up early. The mornings are the best time to tackle things head on. It’s when you’re fresh, recharged, and have clarity of mind. There is little in the way of distractions, especially when you can wake up far before the rest of the world in your region.
While some people like to burn the midnight oil, so to speak, to really spark some revolutionary progress as an entrepreneur, you need to wake up early. How early? Well, that depends on who you ask. But, for the most part, it’s going to likely be something that’s outside of your comfort zone. Most really successful entrepreneurs are awake before 6am, some before even 5am. Here’s a few of them:
- Howard Schultz — founder of Starbucks: 4:30am
- Sergio Marchionne — CEO of Fiat Chrysler: 3:30am
- Richard Branson — CEO of Virgin Group: 5:45am
- Tim Cook — CEO of Apple: 4:30am
- Anna Wintour — Vogue Editor-in-Chief: 5:45am
#2 — They Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast isn’t something that’s just physically good for you — it also helps in mental nourishment of the mind. When the mind and the body receive the right fuel to start the day, tackling your to-do list doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Yet, too many people skip breakfast altogether, and opt for a cup of coffee or tea. But you shouldn’t do that.
In one study, it was confirmed that “students attended an average of 1.5 more days of school than their meal-skipping peers, and their math scores averaged 17.5% higher.” Other studies have proven the direct correlation between eating a healthy breakfast and succeeding in school or increasing cognitive functions in general.
While most people know the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, according to the Morning MealScape 2011 survey, it was determined that roughly 31 million Americans skip the meal entirely.
One organization set out to determine just what some of the most successful people actually eat for breakfast. Here’s what they found.
- Richard Branson — CEO of Virgin Group: Fruit salad and muesli
- Cheryl Bachelder — CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken: Steel-cut oatmeal, scrambled eggs, crisp back and rye toast
- Jack Dorsey — CEO of Square / Co-founder of Twitter: Two hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce
- Payal Kadakia — Class Pass Founder: Fruit, vitamins, and a citrus green tea
#3 — They’re Grateful
While many people focus on their problems, not enough appreciate what they have. We’re constantly living in a state of lack where our happiness is hinged on attaining things. But, when you shift your focus to one of absolute gratitude for what you presently have in your life, some remarkable things begin to occur.
You see, the mind is very much like a camera lens — that which it focuses on, it gets more of. When the focus is on problems, no matter how great or small they might be, all we tend to see and get are more problems. Search and ‘ye’ shall find, so the saying goes. The same thing applies for whatever it is that we have to be grateful for.
Take 10 or 15 minutes, even 20, in the morning to write out what you’re grateful for. No matter what it is, write it out. You could be grateful for the fact that you’re six feet above ground, or that you can read and write, or just about anything else. Just take the time to jot it down and focus on it.
#4 — They Exercise
One of the most important daily habits that you can have is exercise. Tony Robbins calls this your “Hour of Power,” and most really great entrepreneurs swear by it. Sweating it out, especially first thing in the morning, is a way to kickstart the brain by increasing the blood-flow throughout the body, and really amping up those endorphins in the system.
Working out helps to release serotonin and dopamine into the system, not only making you feel happier, but also aiding in your physical and mental health by improving digestion, reducing the risk of heart disease, and so on.
Pick a time and an activity early in the morning where you can do some light exercise. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Start small and grow from it. All habits are built that way, and you’ll find an easier time achieving great things by starting small and improving just a little bit every day.
#5 — They Set Daily Goals
Great entrepreneurs know that if they want to tackle the day and get things done, they need to set some daily goals. But, in order to set daily goals, you need to ensure you have some long-term goals in place first. If you’ve set long-term goals already, and know the direction you’re traveling in, use daily goals to keep you on track.
Buy a whiteboard, chalkboard, or even a cork board, and pin up your goals for the day. What do you want to accomplish? Where is your time best spent? Daily goals are a way of targeting milestones, which are the small markers between daily goals and long-term goals.
By using milestones and daily goals, you can move in the direction you’re looking to travel, slowly over time, and not veer off track. Ask yourself the following question in the morning when you wake up and look in the mirror: “What did I achieve today?” Then, design your day around that, ensuring you tackle the all-important things first.
#6 — They Seek Inspiration
Even the most astute entrepreneurs can hit a plateau, suffering a mental roadblock, so to speak. Sometimes, it’s just hard to see the forest through the trees, especially if you’re dealing with overcoming some major obstacles. For those reasons, it’s important to seek inspiration, in all of its many facets and forms.
Today, inspiration can be found everywhere online and offline. But, the best place you can be inspired, is through sources such as YouTube and TED. Watching inspiring videos will help you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, even when things seem bleak.
Over the years, some of the most successful people have failed the most times. When that happened, they needed to turn somewhere. They needed to seek inspiration. Remember, success doesn’t come overnight — it takes hard work applied consistently over time.
#7 — They Create Value
While this might not sound like a habit to most, adding value is certainly one of the most important habits developed by really great entrepreneurs. They know, above all else, that value is the biggest take away for success. If you can provide a huge amount of value, and do it effectively, you can emulate the successes of some of the greatest entrepreneurs that have ever lived.
But adding value isn’t simple. The mind needs to be trained, and move away from a state of doing the least amount of work for the most pay, to doing the most amount of work for the least pay (at least initially speaking). While you might be chasing that all-mighty dollar, don’t let it get in the way of your value proposition.
Think about some of the most successful businesses in the world and their founders — Amazon, McDonald’s, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft — all of those businesses added a huge amount of value to the world, even before they were really raking it in. Focus on value and the dollars will eventually follow.
#8 — They Take Frequent Breaks
An important part of a successful entrepreneurs arsenal of good habits is taking frequent breaks. In fact, the most productive people take constant breaks throughout the day. The trick, however, is to not get too carried away with those breaks.
In a study conducted by themuse using the DeskTime app, it determined that “the most productive 10% of our users have in common is their ability to take effective breaks. Specifically, the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time, then break for 17 minutes before getting back to it.”
While 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break might sound strange to most people, the concept can and does work. It will leave you less stressed and frantic, and more able to focus on the task at hand. So, go ahead, and click away at some of what interests you online, but come back to your work and don’t get carried away.
#9 — They Follow a Plan
The most successful entrepreneurs follow a plan to achieve their goals. While they might not have every step outlined before it occurs, they do know the general sense of direction. If you have a long-term goal to achieve something, then you need a solid action plan to get you there. Without a plan, reaching that goal is far harder.
The most successful entrepreneurs in the world develop plans at each stage. They have a rough idea of how they’re going to get from Point A to Point B. Take the time to create a plan and follow it daily. Make this habitual. In fact, you should obsess over your plan. You should follow along with it every step of the way, and if something doesn’t work, change your approach.
#10 — They Take Action
As cliche as it might sound, taking action is at the heart of any great entrepreneur. If you want to succeed, then it’s not enough to just plan — you need to take action and do it consistently. No matter how small the action might be, as long as you do it daily, and you don’t give up, success will eventually materialize.
Similar to some of the traits and habits of great entrepreneurs to have ever graced the earth, if you make taking action be at the forefront of your mind, and you consistently do a little bit to move you towards your goals, over time your plans will materialize. The hardest part about this is to not give up when you face some resistance.
I’m sure you know all too well just how hard it can be to achieve something monumental. When we feel like we’re fighting an uphill battle, keeping up the energy to take action is the last thing on our minds. But, those tough times won’t last — they’ll eventually give way to success and opportunity as long as you stay persistent with it.
#11 — They Track and Analyze
It’s impossible to see where you are at any given moment if you fail to track and analyze. In fact, this single habit, if done meticulously in any area, can lead to colossal benefits. It’s easier to stay motivated when you can see just how far you’ve come and precisely where you stand, along with how far is left to go.
Setup a system for tracking your progress towards your goals. Buy a notepad, download an app, or create a spreadsheet on your computer. Then, track your progress at least daily, if not multiple times per day For example, if you’re trying to save money to start a business, track all of your spending and saving every single day.
When you track every day, you begin to notice patterns and you can adjust things accordingly. When you ignore the small stuff, it’s easier to veer off track.
#12 — They Stay Organized
Staying organized isn’t just a habit that you should have, it’s a habit that you must have. Organization is the key to success, or so goes the saying. But there is a science behind this, and there’s a reason why the world’s most successful entrepreneurs live and breathe organization.
In fact, the mind has difficulty focusing when there are too many things crowding its space. Researchers at the Princeton University of Neuroscience discovered that clutter relates to higher stress and chaos in the mind. In their report, Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex, they found the following:
“Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”
#13 — They Leverage the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 Rule, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. In sales, this means that 80% of the sales come from 20% of the customers. This can be broken down even further to find that, within those 20% of customers, 80% of sales comes from 20% of them as well.
However, in order to leverage the Pareto Principle, you have to first track and analyze your results. How can you determine where 80% of the output is coming from? How can you identify the 20% of your efforts that are leading to 80% of your results? Without analyzing and tracking, and doing so meticulously, this would be next to impossible.
Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of this rule, and they use it to their benefit. They identify where the large part of their results are coming from and they scale out.
#14 — They Effectively Manage Their Time
Time management is a habit that provides enormous benefits to those that wield it. Keep in mind that we all have the same amount of time in this world. Not one single person has more time than the other. Therefore, success isn’t based on how much time we have, it’s what we do with the time that we do have.
Successful people know how to manage their time and they know how to minimize distractions that get in between their goals. Come up with a system for effectively managing your time such as the quadrant time management system, which breaks up activities into four separate categories based on factors of urgency and importance.
The most successful entrepreneurs focus their time into quadrant 2 activities, also known as the important but not urgent quadrant. They also know how to minimize their time spent in quadrant 4 activities, which is deemed the not urgent and not important quadrant.
#15 — They Network
If you’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” Then you know just how important networking is, and why it’s a habit that absolutely must be developed, no matter what line of work you’re in. The most successful people in the world have known just how to network. And, if they didn’t personally know how to network, then they had a business partner that was brilliant at it.
But, for most, networking doesn’t come easy. It’s hard to put yourself out there, especially when you’re shy or introverted. But, like any other habit, networking can be cultivated as a good entrepreneurial habit over time. It won’t happen overnight.
Successful networkers know that networking is all about adding value to the lives of others. It’s not about getting others to do things for you. That will come naturally. To succeed long term with networking, you have to find ways to help others, no matter how great or small. That’s how some of the best networks in the world have been built up.
#16 — They’re Persistent
Never give up. That’s the motto, isn’t it? While it might sound corny on the outside to some, no words are truer. The greatest entrepreneurs have failed the most times, but they’ve gotten back up again and tried again. They didn’t give up. The thing about success is that it only takes but one time to succeed. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail.
Edison failed over 10,000 times inventing a commercially-viable electric lightbulb. Henry Ford’s first two businesses went under. Colonel Sanders from KFC was rejected 1,009 times before he found a restaurant that would accept his chicken franchise model. Howard Schultz of Starbucks, was turned down by banks 242 times. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book was rejected by all 12 major publishers at the time.
Had these people given up, they wouldn’t have achieved the great success stories that they’ve come to be known for. Persistence is by far one of the best habits of really great entrepreneurs around the world.
#17 — They Contribute
When you contribute, your mind shifts from a state of lack to a state of abundance. It’s similar to the morning gratitude habit. While you’re not consciously aware of it, doing this helps to send some powerful signals to the subconscious mind.
Find a cause, and contribute to it. You don’t have to contribute money if you don’t have it. Contribute your time, life’s most precious commodity. Doing something for someone else. Go volunteer at a shelter, or help out a family in need.
This is a habit that will give back in more ways than one. Remember, life is more about giving than it is taking. Once we can shift our mentality to giving, adding value, and being grateful for the things that we do have, remarkable things begin to occur.
Take a few moments and write out some causes that you think would be worthy of your time and money and make it a habit to contribute to those causes as often as you can.