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7 Common Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, works 50-60 hours a week and the rest of the time he spends exercising, spending time with family and travelling.

Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, spends 80% of his working hours reading reports, newspapers and books. Buffet said “I just sit in my office and read all day.”

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc. used to work from 7 am to 9 pm. He was known to have an incredible work ethic.

[wpdiscuz-feedback id="xsr08x00ha" question="Do you think successful entrepreneurs are different than others?" opened="0"]All successful entrepreneurs have habits unique to them. There, however, are some common traits that set them apart from the rest of the population. Here are 7 common traits of successful entrepreneurs that can offer you an insight into what it takes to succeed in work and life.[/wpdiscuz-feedback]

1.Waking Up Early:

We all know Ben Franklin’s old saying “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

According to Rafael Badziag who interviewed 21 billionaires for his book “ The Billion Dollar Secret”, one of the most common habits of billionaires is waking up early. 

While one of the world's richest men Bill Gates wakes up at 7 a.m., his friend, another billionaire Warren Buffet’s day starts at 6.45 am. 

World’s richest person, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla & SpaceX, wakes up at 7 in the morning.

According to a survey on 367 university students conducted by Christoper Randler, a biology professor of the Heidelberg University of Education, while anticipating problems, morning people try to minimize them. They’re more proactive than night owls. A number of studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.

A study in 2008 shows that people who wake up early procrastinate less than people who wake up late.

Waking up early doesn’t mean they sacrifice their sleeping hours. On average, all successful entrepreneurs get 6-8 hours of sleep at night.

Getting enough sleep improves memory power and helps to concentrate more on your work. A study in 2014 shows that the later you go to bed the more you have a chance to get overwhelmed by negative thoughts, which can have a negative impact on your mental health as well as your productivity.

Though there are more studies required to understand the circadian cycle of the human body, According to Christopher Randler, people can be trained to alter their “chronotypes,” to a certain extent.

2.Reading Books:

Whenever asked how he learned to make rockets, Elon Musk the founder of SpaceX always replies, “I read books”. According to his interview with Esquire, he not only reads books, but he also devours them. In his interview with Bloomberg, he described himself as a “Bookwormy” kid, growing up.

One of the most common habits among self made billionaires and millionaires is they read lots of books.

Bill Gates reads more than 50 books a year, which means at least 1 book per week. According to him reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which he believes, has helped him to drive forward in his career.

Another billionaire Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poverty, credits books for her success. "Books were my path to personal freedom," Winfrey once said. "I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi."

Rich people do not read books only for fun, they read books for self-improvement, to learn about new areas and new skills.

According to Thomas Corley, the writer of the book “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals”, rich people whose annual income is $160,000 or more and liquid net worth is $3.2 million-plus, read for self-improvement, education, and success. Whereas less well-off people read primarily to be entertained. 

While for many people books are simply a source of entertainment, for rich people they are a gateway of knowledge. According to Corley, 88% of rich people spend at least 30 minutes of their day reading self-improvement books.

Here is a list of five books recommended by most successful entrepreneurs that you can keep in your lists

3.Working Hard

There’s no short-cut way to success. 

According to Rafael Badziag, who spent six years of his life traveling around the world meeting 21 of the best entrepreneurs of the world, rich people are extremely diligent. 

He said, “It may sound like a cliché, but most self-made billionaires consider hard work to be an essential part of their business success. Especially at the beginning of their business, it’s not uncommon for billionaires to work every waking hour. It means up to 18 hours a day and 8 hours on weekends, no days off.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla said that he works for 120 a week. According to him, he had not taken time off of more than a week since 2001, when he was bedridden with malaria.

The American celebrity billionaire Mark Cuban said, “Business is an ultimate sport that is played without end, without interruption, and without rules; and there is always somebody who is trying to knock you out. So if you want to win in this game, you can’t afford to stop competing even for a second.”

4.Being Passionate About What They Do

Passion is merely the difference between having a job, and having a career.

There are a lot of people who work hard. But what sets apart the successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the hard-working population is their passion.

The path of entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs. Even if you work hard, you will have to face failures and rejections. Hence many people give up entrepreneurship after several years. What keeps the successful entrepreneurs going is their passion.

Mike Kappel, the founder, and CEO of Patriot Software LLC said “Passion is what drives you. Passion keeps you going despite the difficulties that your business will inevitably come across. I had many opportunities to throw up my arms and simply give up, but my passion caused me to keep going. I couldn’t think about anything but making my business succeed.”

According to Peter Hargreaves, the founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, loving the industry you’re in is the greatest advantage you can have in business. Why? Because then you aren’t working. It’s almost a hobby and you don’t need time to relax.

5.Taking Challenges

We all know the proverb “Life is not a bed of roses”.

To move forward you have to overcome obstacles. Hardship in life is inevitable. None of us can predict what will happen to us. But we have control over how we react to it. While most people give up when they face obstacles, successful entrepreneurs take them as a challenge.

Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in a family of grape farmers. But his love for mechanics led him to build tractors from old military machines after World War II. After becoming successful in his tractor business he bought several luxury cars and he noticed that Ferrari cars were too noisy and rough on the road. 

Lamborghini decided to tell the founder of Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari about this issue. During the 1960s Ferrari cars were top-of-the-line in luxury sports cars. So for Luzo Ferrari, Lamborghini was someone who did not have any knowledge about cars and told Lamborghini that he didn’t need any advice from a tractor mechanic.

Many people would just feel insulted and give up after that. But this incident drove Lamborghini to start building luxury cars. At that time people used to believe that it was impossible to make luxury cars as great as Ferrari. Besides, Ferrari was already years ahead of Lamborghini. While Many people saw Ferruccio Lamborghini as a crazy person, he took it as a challenge to prove them, especially Enzo Ferrari wrong. In May 1963, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghinis started its journey and by the early 1960s, Lamborghini became as wealthy and powerful as Ferrari.

Stephen Key, Co-founder of InventRight and writer of “One Simple Idea” series, said “Becoming an entrepreneur requires a certain kind of confidence and ego. In other words, more often than not, we think we know it all already. But your business will benefit immensely from your willingness to open your eyes to the future.”

According to him the best way to stay competitive is to actively attempt to challenge your preconceived notions. 

According to Rafael Badziag, the mindset of taking challenges is one of the major reasons behind the success of successful entrepreneurs. This helps them to not give up and push forward until they reach their goal. Instead of seeing challenges as obstacles, they see them as opportunities to grow.

Just like Roy T. Bennett said in his book “The Light of The Heart”:

Challenge and adversity are meant to help you know who you are. Storms hit your weakness but unlock your true strength.

6.Building Networks

There is a reason why there are so many networking events for founders.

Alejandro Cremades, the author of “The Art of Startup Fundraising & Serial Entrepreneur” said, “ Many of the hyper-successful entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed on the DealMakers podcast may have at least briefly gone to top colleges or worked for organizations like Apple or Microsoft. Yet, they are also the first to tell you that it’s who you know that makes all the difference in getting funded and achieving great exits, not what you know.”

All successful entrepreneurs maintain good networking. In an interview, Matt Salzberg, founder of Blue Apron, said that he built his powerful network by graduating from Harvard as well as working for a powerful venture capital firm such as Bessemer Venture Partners.

Building a network means you will increase your chance of finding a mentor who can guide you throughout your journey and even help you to get investments. Networking helps you to propel your business. A good network can help you to find opportunities and connections which you would not be able to find on your own.

Choosing the right crowd and how you leverage it, are also crucial for your business. You need to find people who motivate you and help you to reach your goal.

In an article Waverly Deutsch, a clinical professor at Chicago Booth and the Polsky Director of the UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network, said, “Research done at Chicago Booth finds that it’s not enough to just have a network; how you use your network is important, and trusted contacts can be particularly helpful at overcoming early challenges." 

Warren Buffet, who has been friends with Bill Gates for nearly 30 years, advised the students of Columbia University, “You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it's important to associate with people that are better than yourself...you want to associate with people who are the kind of person you'd like to be”

According to Diane Helbig, an internationally recognized business and leadership development consultant, networking is like an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly, can yield great results in years to come.

7.Embracing Failures

Successful entrepreneurs have dreams like many other people. But one of the major traits seen among successful entrepreneurs, which makes them different, is they are not afraid to accept their failures. This mindset helps them to try, despite knowing the risk. 

Starting a company is one of the toughest jobs and making it successful is even tougher. Though on the outside the life of billionaires like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos may seem lavish, it took them a long way and a series of failures to come this far.

In one interview Elon Musk said, “When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then, you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt. But, if you take your medicine and learn from your failures, there’s an upside. Eventually, if you succeed … you will finally get back to happiness.”

According to him, if things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.

Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is a great example of how your failures can lead you to success if you never give up. About his hardship, he said, “In the beginning, I just wanted to survive. For the first three years, we made zero revenue. I remember many times when I was trying to pay up, the restaurant owner would say, ‘Your bill was paid.’ And there would be a note saying, ‘Mr. Ma, I’m your customer on the Alibaba platform. I made a lot of money, and I know you don’t, so I paid the bill.”

One thing common among all successful entrepreneurs is they embrace their failures and see them as another chance to try even harder. While many people give up after facing several failures, successful entrepreneurs see them as the stepping stones of success.

According to Jack Ma, giving up is the greatest failure.

Just like Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in the field of public speaking and the psychology of the successful personality, said :

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.”

Tithi Chowdhury is an undergraduate student majoring in Botany at the University of Dhaka. She is a Trainee Analyst at Future Startup and looks after our Collective Knowledge initiative where she prepares interviews and writes articles on interesting topics. She is a voracious reader and loves listening to podcasts in her spare time.

In-depth business & tech coverage from Dhaka

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One comment on “7 Common Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs”

  1. It is to generalize. While successful entrepreneurs are different from the rest of us, it is equally true for everyone else as well. Hard to say their differences are their sources of success. We often miss the nuances for the sake of a coherent narrative.

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