10 Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs
– By Sharjeel Siddiqui
At first there was the Ice Age; then the Neanderthals came along; followed by the decadence of the middle ages; and then came the Industrial Revolution which spawned generations upon generations of hardworking and dynamic individuals who set up industries like manufacturing, infrastructure, organized finance, and the like which essentially shaped the modern world. The next breed were the dot-comers who came, tried to conquer and got busted instead. A decade hence arose the ‘Entrepreneurs’ like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of these busted blokes with many lessons learned and imbibed. One hopes that these self-proclaimed ‘Next-Gen Stalwarts’ know what they are doing as the current valuations doing the rounds are eerily reminiscent of a dreaded marriage between dot-coms and Enron.
Not to be an eternal pessimist — this new spate of Entrepreneurs is certainly doing a world of good. They are undoubtedly challenging the status quo and coming up with ‘disruptive technologies’, forcing incumbent giants to scramble to hold on.
They move fast and break things — Mark Zuckerberg.
They have come up with a slew of innovations that have benefited one and all. What is worrisome, however, is the spawn of thousands of ethically corrupt Entrepreneurs who have no concrete products or services except for some fancy smoke and mirrors.
There is a lot written about valuations, business models, CAGR, Unit Economics, GMV and the like, so we shall not go into these. What we shall address is the root — the driving force behind behind the Entrepreneur. Ayn Rand in her magnum opus ‘Atlas Shrugged’ kept driving home the point that — the role of a man’s mind and character is integral to a dynamic society and to their own enterprises. If you have the foundation right — business cycles and economic upheavals shall not be your Waterloos. Read on if you are an honest to God, genuine Entrepreneur looking to build a firm that delivers and builds value.
What we have here for you — is a distillation of the best success mantras into 10 habits (call them Hacks if you must) that can assure you success like nothing else can:
Get Thy Model Right
It’s not enough to be a passionate go-getter — the most fundamental requirement of a successful entrepreneur is to identify a gap in the current markets and find/ build a product or service that addresses this gap and adds tangible value. Do your industry research, identify the challenges, and be systematic. There is NEVER a shortcut to success.
Build for Perpetuity
Never, ever start by thinking of an Exit policy — traditional businesses had one rule — that the firm is a ‘going concern’ — which means that the firm is supposed to run into perpetuity. Fly by night operations and ideas have never worked and never will. What will work instead — is a clearly mapped value chain built on a solid foundation of strategic principles. A house of cards will fall — but a house built from brick and mortar has a higher probability of persevering.
Right, People for the Right Job
No doubt your best times are with your friends or family — but they are not the right people to get work done. You need talented people with the right attitudinal fit who can see the same vision as you, can roll up their sleeves and get stuff done.
Groom Thy Crew
We cannot emphasize this enough — you may have the best people in the house, but if you do not groom them well — you might end up with a bunch of complacent yes-men. What you need are independent thinkers who are not afraid of speaking their mind and challenging things. This shall act as a sanity check for your own ideas. You need to train your crew, motivate them and give them a platform in order to establish their dependence on you. This will ensure that they continue to work passionately on their own for their professional success.
Keep your professional and personal lives separate and ensure that you give time to each. Balance is the key. Spurts of highly driven work should be offset by periods of rest to maintain objectivity. You need to periodically step back and analyze your model from all angles to ensure that you do not get so emotionally attached to your idea that you cannot figure out the flaws within.
Mind Thy Ego
This is an extremely thin line — while you need to maintain your confidence, you also need to protect yourself from sliding down the slippery slope of arrogance. The most successful business leaders are the ones who are humble yet assured. Arrogance rubs people the wrong way and consequently they can get nasty and vindictive — tread very carefully.
Discipline, Discipline, Discipline
Manage thy time well, be organized and put processes in place from the very beginning. Make your blueprints and follow them. Organic growth will only take you so far. A structured and strategic way of working will ensure you accomplish more and your people have clarity in their working. PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT. Repeat.
The human species’ greatest weakness is their fear of the unknown. Tread into unchartered waters because there is where the greatest discoveries lie — but do so with caution. Think things through, have back-ups and then have the passion to forget your fears and follow your dreams (errr… strategically planned dreams).
Keep an Eye on the Bottom-line
Cash burn, discounts, CPA may be the name of the game — but it should not be forever. You should start with a revenue model and not scamper to figure it out post customer acquisition. Net profitability should be your goal. The world today appears to be a merry-go-round of con men thanks to the never ending chase of funding. Funding may help you scale up — the goal, however, should be for the firm to pay for itself.
Keep Thy Fire Burning
Constantly reinvent yourself and keep pushing yourself. The world owes you nothing. If you want to succeed and to create something immense — you gotta have that fire burning bright — ALL THE TIME !!!