Walking to the café I’m working from this afternoon, I was pondering the commonalities between the entrepreneurs I see going places – and I mean really going places.
Like most things in life, there are patterns. By now, I have banked up hundreds of hours of mentoring up-and-comers, and been fortunate to get to hang with the best of the best – everywhere from Necker Island, to Uluru, to late night wines with a business bestie at her kitchen table. I can generally tell within 15 minutes of spending time with an entrepreneur if they’re going to “make it” or not.
Important note: some entrepreneurs and business owners are perfectly happy with growing their businesses gradually, or keeping them ticking along nicely as a side-hustle. And that’s perfectly cool. When I say “remarkable”, I mean the people who go on to hit seven figures early in their business, who attract kickass people to their team, who have created a situation where they have so much work coming in that their biggest problem is back-filling a team to fulfil demand.
Of the entrepreneurs I’ve personally mentored, these are the nine signs I look for as a reliable forecast of their future success.
ONE: Be OBSESSED with growing your business
Even though they may not be physically working on their business 70+ hours a week, their radar is constantly tuned to potential ways to build their business – whether it’s spotting a cool website feature while they’re shopping online or tapping strokes of inspiration into their phone Notes app mid-morning jog. Their brains quite literally never stop scanning for ways to build/improve/shift/upgrade what their business does.
TWO: Be deeply coachable
One of my very first Turbo Mentoring sessions was with Hannah – she started out as a freelancer and (because she’s amazing) very quickly manifested a rapidly-growing business. Her fast growth made her realise all the stuff she needed to know (and fast!), and we booked in a mentoring session. She flew down from Brisbane to Sydney the day before our session, and did a dummy run to my office that night, and was 30 minutes early for our session. I mean, who even does that anymore?! I was blown away at how dedicated she was, and it’s no coincidence that she has gone on to smash the revenue target we settled on in our session.
THREE: Be humble
I firmly believe that the very best entrepreneurs are not dickheads. In fact they’re the opposite. They have a genuine interest in the people they’re talking to, and do not lord their own achievements over others. As soon as someone at a party starts to boast that they’re a CEO of three people, or “accidentally” mentions their company’s revenue last financial year, my Wanker Radar goes off and I can pretty much guarantee that their entrepreneurial journey will be a short one.
FOUR: Take stuff in your business personally
Yes, it’s business not personal and all that… However. If a client criticising your work doesn’t sting you on some level, then your Give A Shit Index needs to be a hell of a lot higher. I know business owners who – even a decade into their businesses – still get personally involved if a customer isn’t happy. And I think that’s a great measure of how successful their businesses are.
FIVE: Invest in yourself
Entrepreneurs truly on the ascent do not shy away from spending time, money and energy on improving themselves. They know that the only vehicle to get their business to where they want it is themselves – and that vehicle needs to be a lean, mean, well-trained machine to get there. They invest in themselves, and they make that investment work fucking hard.
SIX: Expect high standards from your people
Wade once said to me about a team issue I was having: “The standards you walk past are the standards you’re prepared to accept”. His words often come to mind when I’m working with a business owner who is having team issues. Lateness, rudeness, chronic typos and general sloppiness HAVE NO PLACE in a successful business. Successful entrepreneurs know that behaviour like that needs to be stopped in its tracks, and often that means certain team members being shown the door. It’s a massive, MASSIVE distraction and – quite simply – you don’t have the time to be dealing with it.
SEVEN: Master the risk vs. caution balance
When it comes to business finance, there’s a time for your risk hat and a time for your cautious hat. The trick is to know which hat to put on when. I started paying myself five months into my first business, and paid my team and myself on time every single month for the 5.5 years I ran it. At the same time, I made decisions that could potentially wipe us out as a business if I got them wrong. Having an appetite for risk and caution is one of the key commonalities I see in successful entrepreneurs.
EIGHT: Make the decision. And act on it immediately
I had a call with one of my Remarkability Mastermind group while I was in Bali. On the call, it became clear that one of her team was not a fit for her business – and it was creating a huge time and energy drain for my mentee. By the end of the call, she had decided to exit this team member – and just four hours later, I had an email from her saying the conversation had been had. The next day she woke up clearer than she had been in weeks, and immediately her focus was back on growing her business. Successful entrepreneurs will make the hard decisions – and immediately act on them, as they know that every day (and even hour!) that they delay on taking action, the opportunity cost to their business is growing interest.
NINE: Expect some really very shit days (even weeks)
Not one successful entrepreneur I know has a dream run. If you’re dedicated to growing your business quickly, then you are going to have days, weeks, even months when life feels pretty shit. It goes back to the Mark Zuckerberg’s motto: “move fast and break things”. Successful entrepreneurs know that success is not a steadily increasing line on the graph – instead it’s a series of dips, inclines and sometimes that line falls of a cliff. As shit as the shit times are, they acknowledge the situation, draft in the help and/or advice they need, make the big calls, then dust themselves off and get on with it.
This list is not exhaustive – however as a general litmus test of how successful an entrepreneur is or will go on to be, hit hasn’t failed me yet…
While you’re here
If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, my new membership program Remarkability Clann is kicking off on 1st July. You can find out more here. I’ve been thrilled with the members who have jumped onboard already, and our first group gathering is on 2nd July.