There are many different reasons small businesses and startups fail, but there are four traits that I’ve seen in every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met. I talk about them in this video. #startups #business #business #marketing #entrepreneurship #startup #souxfalls
Prefer to read instead of watch? Here’s a rough script I used for this video.
Matt Paulson here. In this video I want to talk about the characteristics that every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has in common. There are many different reasons that companies fail. They might not have enough capital. They might not have achieved product-market fit. They might just not be putting in enough hustle to make their business a reality. They might not have the right skill set to build the business they want to build. It wouldn’t be hard to name off a hundred different reasons why businesses don’t succeed, but you probably don’t want to learn how to build a failing business. You want to know how to build a successful business and there are a handful of characteristics that I’ve seen in just about every successful business owner has in common.
First, they are constantly searching for new opportunities. They take speculative coffee meetings. They call up potential customers and business partners. They’re researching their competitors. They’re responding to cold email. They’re going to trade shows and industry events. They’re open to new ideas and new opportunities to improve their business or their lot in life. One of the main reasons that people can work very hard all of their lives and not succeed is that they’re not searching for new opportunities. I could work very hard as a dishwasher for my entire life, but I won’t get where I want to be unless I’m also looking for the next opportunity to move up in the world. Maybe I learn there’s an opportunity to be a server at another restaurant, which then opens up an opportunity to be an assistant manager at a restaurant, and then eventually I can become a restaurant manager, and then maybe I can open my own restaurant and then open up a chain of restaurants. Successful entrepreneurs and successful business people, in general, are always looking for their next opportunity. They work hard in their current opportunity, they’re probably putting in 40 hours per week into their business on top of their day job and other responsibilities, but they’re looking for what’s next as well.
Second, successful entrepreneurs focus on sales, marketing, and customer development. The idea that if you build a better mousetrap, that people will be knocking down your door to buy it, is categorically false. You don’t need the best product in the world to be successful in business. If that were true, Walmart wouldn’t be selling $500 billion a year worth of cheap consumer goods. Nobody would argue that Wal-Mart sells the best anything, but they have done the best job of building out a network of sales and marketing itself as the leading low-cost retailer. Realistically, you need to have a product or service that’s average or just a little bit better than the rest of the market, and then you need to do sales and marketing better than everyone else. If you’re working 40 hours per week on your business, 20 hours of that should be spent on tasks that bring new customers in the door. Marketing is not just another aspect of a business, like accounting, human resources or legal. It’s literally half the work of a business and successful people realize this. Successful people know that having strong sales cures a lot of other problems and they make that one of the highest focuses of their business.
Third, entrepreneurs don’t blame other people for their lack of success and they don’t expect anyone else to be the person that makes their business succeed. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say something like “I was going to build this great business, but my partner didn’t do their part” or “I had this great business until my best customer pulled out.” Successful entrepreneurs know that other people can be unreliable. Partners can be unreliable. Vendors can be unreliable. Customers can be unreliable. That’s the nature of business. You can’t guarantee that other people are going to do what they say they’re going to do. Successful entrepreneurs recognize this and they make contingency plans. They actively monitor their partners, vendors, and clients ability to deliver on their promises, so if a customer says they can’t pay, it’s not a surprise to anyone. They have backup plans if a specific business relationship doesn’t work out. And, if a successful business relationship doesn’t work out, they don’t hold a grudge. They don’t stay angry. They don’t bad mouth the other person. They just adapt as best as they can and move their business forward.
Fourth, successful entrepreneurs just don’t give up on their dreams. You are going to face adversity in your business. Not everything is going to go right all the time. That’s the reality of building a business. You might have a key employee quit on you. You might get hit with a lawsuit like I did. You could lose a key customer acquisition source as I also have. You could find that the market has moved on you. Businesses work because the business owner builds the right team, finds the right market need, is able to meed that market need and is able to develop customers that want their product. The variables that makeup business success are constantly changing and what worked well ten years ago probably won’t work well today. When something stops working, you have to face that adversity and find another way to make it work. If you feel sorry for yourself and give up when something bad happens to your business, you won’t be successful. The right response is to take a full understanding of what’s changed and why it changed and adapt your business as best as possible. Your business may fail entirely, but that doesn’t mean you give up on your dreams of owning a business. You just find the next idea and try again.
So, those are the four things successful entrepreneurs have in common. They’re constantly looking for new opportunities. They place a heavy emphasis on sales and marketing. They don’t blame other people for their lack of success and finally, they don’t give up. What other characteristics of a successful entrepreneur have you come across? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Thanks for watching.