There are key habits you must develop if you want to become a successful entrepreneur. The absence of any one of these habits can be costly, if not fatal, to your business. When you become competent and capable in each of these areas, you'll be able to accomplish extraordinary results, far faster and easier than your competitors. Without further ado, let me introduce the 7 habits of business success:
1. Plan ahead. The better, more thoroughly and more detailed you plan your activities in advance, the faster and easier it'll be for you to carry out your plans and get the results you desire once you start to work.
There's a "Six P" acronym that reads, "Proper prior planning prevents poor performance." To become a better planner, develop the habit of asking and answering the following questions:
- What exactly is my product or service?
- Who exactly is my customer?
- Why does my customer buy?
- What does my customer consider value?
- What is it that makes my product or service superior to that of any of my competitors?
- Why is it that my prospective customer does not buy?
- Why does my prospective customer buy from my competitor?
- What value does he or she perceive in buying from my competitor?
- How can I offset that perception and get my competitor's customers to buy from me?
- What one thing must my customer be convinced of to buy from me, rather than from someone else?
Once you've asked and answered these questions, the next stage of planning is to set specific targets for sales and profitability. You must determine the exact people, money, advertising, marketing, distribution, administration and service people and facilities you'll require in order to achieve your goals. The more thoroughly you plan out each stage of your business activities, before you begin, the greater the probability will be that you'll succeed once you commence operations.
2. Get organized before you get started. Once you've developed a complete plan for your business, you must then organize the people and resources you need before you begin--and you must make this a habit before the start of any new project you launch. In organizing, you bring together all the resources you've determined you'll require in the planning process. In the military, there is a saying: "Amateurs talk strategy, but professionals talk logistics." It's absolutely essential that you determine every ingredient you'll need before you begin business operations and then bring them together so that they're ready to go when you open your doors or begin your project. The failure to provide even one important ingredient in advance can lead to the failure of the entire enterprise.
3. Find the right people. Fully 95 percent of your success as an entrepreneur will be determined by the quality of the people you recruit to work for you. The fact is, the best companies have the best people. The second-best companies have the second-best people. The third-best companies have average or mediocre people--and they're on their way out of business.
4. Learn how to delegate. You must develop the ability to delegate the right task, to the right person, in the right way. The inability to delegate effectively can be the cause of failure or underperformance of the individual, and even bring about failure of your business.
When people start in business, they usually do everything themselves. As they grow and expand, their job becomes too large for one person, so they hire someone to do a part of it. If they're not smart, however, they try to retain control of the task, and they never fully hand over both authority and responsibility to the other person--a situation that's sure to lead to failure.
5. Inspect what you expect. Once you've delegated a task to the right person in the right way, it's essential that you monitor the performance of the task, and make sure that it's done on schedule and to the required level of quality. Remember, delegation is not abdication. You're still responsible for the ultimate results of the delegated tasks, and you must stay on top of it. So set up a system to monitor the tasks you delegate and make sure they're being done as agreed on.
6. Set specific, measurable standards and score cards for the results that you require. What gets measured gets done, and you have to set specific timelines and deadlines to make sure you "make your numbers" on schedule. Everyone who's expected to carry out a task must know with complete clarity the targets that he or she is aiming at, how successful performance will be measured, and when the expected results are due.
7. Develop the determination to win. To succeed greatly in business, and to become a self-made millionaire, there are additional habits you need to develop. One of these habits is the determination to win, to succeed, to outperform your competition and to ultimately be successful. This competitive instinct and determination to win in the face of any obstacle or difficulty is a chief motivating power that drives entrepreneurs and eventually assures successful careers.
Brian Tracy is the "Success Secrets" coach at Entrepreneur.com and one of America's leading authorities on entrepreneurial development. He's produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs that cover the entire spectrum of human and corporate performance.