Want to be a Successful Entrepreneur? Try These 5 Things

For starters, every successful entrepreneur has their own style, their own industry, and their own philosophies. The most important thing any entrepreneur can do is finding what works for THEM. That being said, these are the 5 things I’ve noticed in almost every successful entrepreneur I’ve met, and are they tenets that I follow to a T.

1) Set Short and Long Term Goals

Before you start setting goals, you have to understand what lagging and leading indicators are. Lagging indicators are results oriented, a direct result of your activity. Leading indicators are action oriented, things you actually have control of.

You can’t control how many people respond to your outreach emails, but you can control how many people you reach out to. Given this, it’s important to focus on leading indicators that funnel into your lagging goals. Too often, first time business owners get overwhelmed by focusing on lagging indicators. The most successful people know how to focus their hard work into leading goals that funnel into their lagging goals.

Within your leading and lagging indicators, you should set both short and long-term goals that complement each other to get you and your small business to where you want to be. I like to think of short-term goals as anything under a 6 month time-frame. For a co-founder of a new startup, short-term goals would include: getting your product to market, raising a seed stage funding round, or getting X amount of new clients.

Example: Do you want to start a new fitness program? Great! That’s a good short-term goal to strive for. On a side note — remember to take out a little time each day to do something that is not business oriented. Find an activity that really allows you to clear your mind.  Something I’ve found to be invaluable to my success is working out. It allows me to clear my head, reflect on the day, and think about my upcoming tasks. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world take time each day to work out, including Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey.

Your long-term goals will be anything longer than 6 months out and should be complemented by your short-term goals. Typically, long-term goals will be lagging indicators, will change frequently, and can be a bit vague. In my case, I want to take my own business to the next level by helping e-commerce companies hone their business plan, develop their business ideas, and turn them into one of the many American entrepreneurial success stories: one of the most robust and tactical digital marketing agencies in the country. I’m not crazy! I realize this is years away, but my short-term goals and everything I do on a daily basis drive me to that long-term goal. Every day, whether I’m interviewing potential new clients, executing on SEO projects for current clients, or building my brand, I’m one step closer to my long-term goal.

Remember to be realistic. Odds are you are not going to be a billionaire in a year. Odds are you won’t be a millionaire in a year. But if you keep working at it, eventually you’ll start achieving the results you desire.

2) Schedule Your Days

What do all famous entrepreneurs, moguls, and tycoons have in common? They have daily schedules and routines to stay on task. But this doesn’t mean you have to work long hours. The most successful people know that work burnout is a real thing. Schedule your days with your short and long term goals in mind. Personally, I have a short morning routine checklist that I complete every day before anything else, no matter what! Email is a black hole, and if I open my inbox before completing my morning routine I just won’t get to it.

Obviously, throughout the course of the day, some things can change, but when I wake up in the morning, I know what I need to get accomplished that day, how I’m going to accomplish it, and when I’m going to accomplish it. How much time I’m going to spend on electrIQ, with my family, etc. These are all things that are accounted for and budgeted into my daily schedule. Forbes contributor Siimon Reynolds put together a 7-step checklist for making your days hyper-productive. Your list will be tailored to you, but understanding where to begin is always important.

It’s super rewarding when you have this daily plan and you start knocking off some of the tasks you have for that day. On some days, it’s only 11am, and I’m almost done with everything I needed to accomplish for that day. Then I can get ahead on my other tasks. Keep building that momentum!

3) Find A Mentor

Even Steve Jobs had a mentor. Almost all business leaders have mentors and trusted advisors they can lean on for advice. Currently, I have 3 mentors who I can rely on for advice, both personal and career-related. One of them I’ve had since middle school.

It’s important to choose someone whom you admire and want to emulate not only professionally but personally. My main mentor is a serial entrepreneur with a tight-knit family. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

This is paramount to successfully developing both personally and professionally. Any sort of questions you could have you can look to your mentor for advice. Why go at it alone when you have someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience dedicated to you achieving your goals? Learn from their mistakes and replicate their success.

Want to grow a successful business? Find someone who went to your school or is in your local area who has their own successful business, and just ask for help!

4) Learn to Say No

As entrepreneurs, we want to say yes to everything. We have extreme FOMO (fear of missing out) and want to dip our toes into everything. Worst part, once you start to say yes to everything, it becomes harder and harder to say no. But, by saying no, you will have time to do anything you’ve put on the back burner, and when a truly great opportunity comes around you’ll be able to jump on it!

Time is your most valuable asset, and you don’t want to waste it on anything that doesn’t line up with your short and long term goals. For example, don’t over extend yourself and try to launch 5 different startups at once. You will end up burning yourself out and, in the process, not putting all of your effort into each project, missing out on other opportunities, and sacrificing personal time.

5) Prioritize and Delegate

While some entrepreneurs try to have it all (which I’m guilty of at times), I’ve realized that growing a business is going to take away from some of my other responsibilities. I’ve prioritized my business over almost everything except my dog.

Every successful entrepreneur struggles with prioritization. We’re generally high strung, type-A people, and we want to do everything ourselves! Delegation is one of the most important skills of successful entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs’s Apple, Bill Gates’s Microsoft, or essentially any business you can think of, was not built in a day, and it definitely wasn’t built by one person, even though many businesses, like the aforementioned ones, have become identified with a single individual. Hiring valuable team members so that you can delegate responsibilities will propel your small business to the next level. You can’t do it all.

Why does delegation matter? For one, being a great delegator will grow your business. In fact, a Gallup study entitled Delegating: A Huge Management Challenge for Entrepreneurs found that CEOs with “high delegator talent” had a 3-year average growth rate of 1,751%, which is 112% higher than CEOs with “low delegator talent.”

So now that we know we need to delegate, how do you we actually do that effectively?

  1. Delegate full projects, not just tasks: By training your team to take ownership of projects, they’ll be more interested in it from start to finish.
  2. Communicate clearly: How is your team supposed to know what to do if you can’t clearly articulate?
  3. Educate: Your greatest asset is your team. Educate and train them on what you know.

Delegation allows successful entrepreneurs the time to focus on big picture and most important items and not get caught up executing all the time.

Are You A Successful Entrepreneur?

That’s my 2 cents — feel free to take everything with a grain of salt. These 5 tips are broadly applicable and have worked for me, but there are undoubtedly other ways to be a successful entrepreneur and hundreds of other tips and tricks you can incorporate in your life. Best of luck!

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