Guest Post by DeShena Woodard

13 entrepreneur characteristics you need to run a successful business and create a strong work-life balance in your life.

Why do some entrepreneurs seem to skyrocket to success practically overnight?

Seriously, it’s like one minute they’re just starting out. Then the next minute, they’ve got dozens of clients and earning thousands of dollars a month!

Meanwhile, you have to scrape, scrounge, and hustle like crazy just to barely make even a few dollars. It makes you wonder!

Do they have some sort of secret formula? A special guide book? Or a magic wand, maybe? Probably not! But what they do have are the right entrepreneur characteristics.

And the good news is, that you can also learn the skills it takes to be a successful entrepreneur! Because…

“The road to success is always under construction.~Lilly Tomlin

To Develop Successful Entrepreneur Characteristics, You Should:

1. Listen More Than You Speak

“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”

~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In every business, it’s important to know when to stop talking and when to listen.

But don’t just listen to respond. Listen to learn. And to understand! Excellent listening skills might be the difference between earning money or losing it.

Take Rachel Ray example. After years of working in a gourmet food market, she heard that many people didn’t have time to cook. So she realized that she could teach them to prepare easy and delicious meals in 30 minutes.

Then BOOM! That lead to her becoming a successful TV host, author, and cooking sensation! And all because she listened!

So who should you be listening to?

  • Listen to your prospective clients. Understand their frustrations. They will tell you what they need. Then you create the products and services that will solve their problems.
  • Listen to your current clients. Do a survey. Or send an email to ask for feedback. They can tell you what works or doesn’t work. Then, you’ll know what needs improvement.
  • Listen to people who are already successful. Obviously, they are doing something right! So seek them out. Use social media, websites, or podcasts. Learn what works for them. Then replicate it and innovate by adding your own unique style.

2. Pursue Networking With Like-minded People.

“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you…an idea that started you in the right direction.”

~ Melinda Gates

This quote perfectly sums up the whole concept behind networking.

In fact, Sasha’s post about how to Make Money While You Sleep With High Converting Email Funnels is a perfect example! In it, she interviews business coach Nicole Santer, whom she met — in a Facebook group.

She explains how Nicole gave her a new business idea that she had completely overlooked. So they decided to collaborate on a project that could be helpful for both of their businesses.

And that is precisely the beauty and the benefit of networking!

But if you’re wondering where to network? As I mentioned earlier, some of the best ways are through social media, websites, and even LinkedIn.

On top of that, you could attend conferences. Or join an entrepreneurial organization. You can even look for entrepreneur Meetup groups in your area.

And some of the surprising ways that networking can help you are by:

  1. Opening up new opportunities.
  2. Making strong connections.
  3. Building your confidence.
  4. Allowing you to share ideas.
  5. Increasing your visibility.
  6. Improving your credibility.

But no matter how you do it, it’s important to never stop networking! Why? Because you never know where your next lead or opportunity may come from.

Just remember the old saying, birds of a feather flock together!

3. Plan Your Day For Success

“…prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

As an entrepreneur, there are days where you have 20 different tasks to do and no idea where to start first? So it’s easy to find yourself aimlessly lost in thought, debating about what to work on. The next thing you know it’s 2 hours later, and you realize that you haven’t accomplished anything! Welcome to my world!

What I’ve discovered is that one of the best ways to be more productive is by planning your task for each day. And that can be as simple as creating a “To Do” list the night before.

Look at this example using a simple task list in Gmail. You can easily add each task. Then check them off once completed.

Another idea is to block out chunks of time on a calendar to keep yourself on a tighter schedule. Like this basic google calendar example.

In any case, a daily plan looks different for everyone. But the best idea is to plan your day according to which tasks give you the most momentum.

For instance:

  • Some people prefer to arrange daily tasks by what they can finish the fastest. So they can see quick wins to fuel their energy for the rest of the day.
  • Other people may choose the most urgent task first. Then they have less worry throughout the day about falling behind.
  • Or if you prefer, begin with the task that’s the most fun. Because that can get your day started off on a pleasant note.  

4. Have Razor Sharp Focus

“Distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it.”     

~Sharon Salzberg

Okay, you’ve planned your day. You know exactly what to do. You start on a project. And just when you’re getting into the zone — it happens! The doorbell rings! You get a text message from a friend! Your kids start arguing! Or the dog begins barking like crazy! Ugh!

So you stop. You handle the situation. Then you return and try to pick up where you left off. But now, you’ve completely lost your flow — and your focus!

So, you hop on Facebook. Then you check your emails, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Meanwhile, there’s an Ad scrolling in the corner with fabulous shoes that you can’t resist clicking on. So now you’re shopping! Huh!

How did a good plan go so wrong? Distractions, that’s how! They are productivity killers! Even a 30-second interruption to check social media can derail your focus for 25 minutes. So what should you do?

1. Block off chunks of time as “distraction free” work time. Try things like:

  • Hide your cell phone. Or turn it off. Or switch it to Airplane mode.
  • Temporarily disable email and social media notifications on your computer.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. Then dedicate that time to ignoring everything else! And focus strictly on your task! Take a break if needed, then repeat.

2. Find your perfect work zone. Whether it’s your home office, coffee shop, or a corner nook. Pick a quiet but inspiring spot where you can comfortably let your creative juices flow.

3. Work during your peak performance hours. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Either way, you’ll get your best work results during your times of highest energy and sharpest focus.

5. Know When To Ask For Help

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.”

~Barack Obama

It’s only natural that entrepreneurs want to project confidence and competence. But, does that mean that they should know everything there is to know about business?

Of course not!

Regardless of how amazing you are, no one knows everything! That’s why cardiologists don’t perform brain surgery! Plus, trying to figure everything out on your own can lead to mistakes, stress, and faster burn out.

A smart entrepreneur admits that they need help, and isn’t afraid to ask for it. But before you ask, there are 2 important things that you need to consider:

  1. Know what problem you need help with. Getting a great answer to the wrong question — is just like no answer at all!
  2. Know the right person to ask. Relevant skills matter. For instance, asking a graphic designer how to run a marketing campaign might not be the best match.

Unless of course, they have done it, seen it in action, or have some other proof that their idea works.

6. Read, Learn, And Read Some More

“It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.”

~Martha Stewart

As I mentioned earlier, no one knows everything! But, that doesn’t mean that you should ever stop trying to learn. I remember one of my college professors saying that if he could stay in school forever, he would. And I thought to myself — why?

But then he said something that really stuck with me. He said, “there is always something new to learn!” Then I thought, you know what, he’s right!

In fact, 85% of wealthy people read educational, career-related, or self-improvement information every day.

And as an entrepreneur, here are 4 learning strategies you can use to help your business succeed:

  • Learn from people who are already successful. They have a wealth of knowledge and make the best mentors.
  • Read more books and blogs of successful entrepreneurs. Many millionaires agree that reading has been essential to their success.
  • Learn from your own mistakes. And don’t repeat them!
  • Learn from the mistakes of others. And don’t make the same ones!

7. Be Willing To Adapt

“You have to be open-minded when those early opportunities present themselves….”

~Rachael Ray

Does it really take a punch in the face to realize that your business isn’t working?

Well, it did for one entrepreneur!

For 10 years, using his same old business ideas worked well…until they didn’t! But, he was resistant to accepting new technology. And even despite slipping sales, he was still too stubborn to change.

Until one day he knocked on the wrong person’s door during dinner time to pitch his business…and WHAM! He literally got punched in the face. And THAT was his wake-up call!

After that, he reevaluated his strategy. Updated his software. And hired a business coach to improve his knowledge. Then, he watched his sales explode by 350%! Amazing, isn’t it?

The moral of the story is that a successful entrepreneur needs to:

  • Embrace change. You must accept when things aren’t working.
  • Be flexible. Approach new ideas with an open mind.
  • Stay current. Learn as much as you can about your industry. And stay on top of changes.
  • Adapt. And improve products and processes as needed.

8. Never Give Up.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

~Winston Churchill

Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, ever heard of them?

They are all Billionaires…and guess what? They have all suffered EPIC fails before soaring to success!

For instance, J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 major publishers! Bill Gates’ first data processing machine flopped! And Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first news anchor job and told that she didn’t have the right look!

But despite those monumental failures, these highly successful individuals never gave up! Why? Because they had these four things:

  • Passion. It’s what keeps you going when the tasks are tedious, the money’s not coming in, and your energy is kaput!
  • Persistence. Means not accepting failure as an option! So when you get knocked down 12 times, (like J.K. Rowling) you get back up 13!
  • Positiveness. It’s the confidence to believe in yourself and your dreams despite the obstacles that get in your way!
  • A Plan. Wanting to start a business is a goal. But successful entrepreneurs have clearly defined plans. For example, who is your customer? How will you grow it? And what would you like to accomplish in the next 6 months…or 1 year? Having a direction for your business is a crucial part of making it successful.

9. Always Remain Resourceful

“I got my start by giving myself a start.”

~Madam C.J. Walker

Resourceful entrepreneurs find quick and clever ways to get things done! They see a problem. They apply a little ingenuity. And they solve it!

For example, advertising your business on Facebook or Instagram can get pricey! But many resourceful entrepreneurs save hundreds of dollars by creating affiliate programs.

They sign up participants who will promote their products on blogs or social media. And when the participant makes a sale, they receive compensation. That equals free advertising, more product exposure, and shared income for both parties. Now that’s a win-win!

Also, my post on Why I Still Respect The “B” Word And So Should You, is the perfect guide for any entrepreneur on a budget!

So how do you know if you fit the bill? Well, here are some of the essential trademarks of a resourceful entrepreneur:

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  • They bend the rules, without breaking them.
  • They seek out mutually beneficial alliances.
  • They are creative problem solvers.
  • They turn challenges into advantages.
  • And, they take calculated, not careless risks to open up more opportunities.

10. Find A Work-Life Balance

“I’ve learned that you can’t have everything

and do everything at the same time.”    

~Oprah Winfrey

Success is not the only thing in life that matters! Health and family are even more important! But when work consumes your life, then bad things can happen! For instance, health-related problems like stress, depression, and heart disease significantly increase!

And without good health, your business won’t really matter much, will it?

That’s why I wrote a post on the 26 Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Save You Money. It provides simple and affordable ways for anyone to start improving their health today!

Another crucial thing to consider is the impact on your relationships. For instance, missing your child’s soccer game. Or your spouse’s constant complaints about a lack of attention. And not even finding time to call or catch up with a friend.

Of course, striking the proper work-life balance can be tricky! But, it is definitely doable. And here are some great tips that can help get you started:

  • Make family a priority! Time is something you can never get back! Know when to take a step back from the business and focus on your family.
  • Outsource projects. Don’t let running a business, run your life! You can get help at reasonable prices with freelance services like Fiverr.
  • Get exercise and sleep. Your body can only work so hard for so long before it gives out! Try getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. And exercising for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Both can help restore your energy and improve your health.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Even a quick 5-minute meditation daily can help bring about a sense of calm and allow you to refocus.  

11. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

– Sara Blakely

Admit it…starting your own business is scary!

I know in my case, going from the science of nursing to the strategy of running a business meant that everything was outside of my comfort zone! It’s almost like like stepping into another dimension. And Rod Serling is standing there saying, the next stop up ahead — The Discomfort Zone!

For example, it took me 3 grueling months to write my very first post. And after several months of blogging, I can now write a post as long as this one in about 3 weeks. Sure, that’s still a ways off from my goal of 2 posts per week. But, the point is that with time and practice, everything gets easier!

That being said, some of the ways that entrepreneurs can work to overcome discomfort are to:

  • Challenge yourself. Familiarity = comfort! Trying new things always involves a certain level of discomfort.
  • Push past your fear. Time to put on your mental armor! Imagine the worst possible things that could happen. Imagine different ways to defeat them. Then, let it go! Just think, a bird would never dare to fly if it didn’t get over the fear of heights!
  • Talk to your peers. Good news! You are not the only person that feels uncomfortable starting a business! I’ve seen many people share their feelings in entrepreneur Facebook groups. And the advice and support are always available!
  • Take baby steps. Every problem has a solution! Break a tough task down into individual steps. Then tackle them, one baby step at a time!

12. Take Action

“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or by hoping for it, but by working for it.”

~Estee Lauder

Success doesn’t just happen! Successful people make it happen!

So, you’ve listened to your clients. You’ve learned from other successful entrepreneurs. You’ve networked with peers. And you’ve made a strategic plan.

Now comes the time for action! So what can you do? You can:

  • Implement your plan. Create that product, course, or ebook you’ve been wanting to make. And if it fails the first time, then go back to the drawing board, learn from your mistakes, and make it better!
  • Promote yourself. Be ready to sing your own praises. Gather your key accomplishments, a 15-second elevator pitch, or some customer feedback. And then spiel it at any chance you get!
  • Trust in your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will? J.K. Rowling knew her idea was extraordinary. And 500 million books sold later…she was right!
  • Be decisive. This is what separates the best from the rest! Because, procrastination cost time, money, and a loss of opportunities. For example, my friend kept debating about a job offer. I guess she was waiting for a sign. Then she finally got one…position filled! Now, there was nothing left to debate. So the point is…be ready to seize the moment!

13. Never Lack Integrity

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”

~Oprah Winfrey

There’s no higher quality for an entrepreneur than integrity!

Why? Because integrity = trust!

And trust is what leads to more opportunity and eventually more money! Yes, it is true that some entrepreneurs do use questionable tactics to make it to the top. But that can come at a high cost.

Take the Enron debacle for example. Their business model seemed to be built entirely on cheating, fraud, and lies. And it worked — for a while! Until the whole thing collapsed into a very public and humiliating heap!

But entrepreneurs with integrity don’t skimp on quality! They don’t take shortcuts! And they don’t compromise their values! To build strong, lasting business and customer relationships, you must:

  1. Do what you say you’re going to do!
  2. Never mislead others for the sake of making profits!
  3. And always strive to exceed expectations!

Final Thoughts

“You have to practice success. Success doesn’t just show up. If you aren’t practicing success today, you won’t wake up in 20 years and be successful, because you won’t have developed the habits of success, which are small things like finishing what you start, putting a lot of effort into everything you do, being on time, treating people well.”

~Michelle Obama

As you can see, the road to success is a work in progress!

You don’t need a secret formula or a magic wand. Just a fierce, innovative, go-getter attitude! Every successful business doesn’t take off overnight. But you can develop the skills needed to grow it into a roaring success!

By continually practicing these 13 entrepreneur characteristics, you not only raise the bar for yourself but for your business as well. Click To Tweet

And with that, success is sure to follow!

So which characteristics do you feel you need to work on the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this list!

Author Bio

Hi, my name is DeShena a working mom turned blogger and entrepreneur. I have a creative spirit and a passion for writing. The goal of my blog Extravagantly Broke is to help people who struggle with debt to improve their money mindset, and learn ways to earn more and save more money.
I write to encourage financial freedom, and to help you Live Your Extravagantly Best Life!

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