One of the great pleasures I’ve had throughout my career is the opportunity to speak with aspiring entrepreneurs about what it takes to be successful in today’s hyper-competitive business environment. When I meet these individuals, I cut straight to the point: There is a five percent difference between good and great. All of us are afforded an opportunity to be great. And while there is no one formula to success, here are five of the most important lessons -- from my decades of experience in business small and large -- that I’ve learned to help me succeed and grow:
1. Embrace disruption.
You grow up being taught to “raise your hand” and “ask for permission.” It’s not often you hear someone tell you that being disruptive is a good thing. I’m here to tell you that it’s necessary if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. There will come a time when you can’t afford to sit back and wait your turn. You must take the initiative and not be afraid to offend or disrupt. In today’s business environment, speed wins the race. Businesses must move quicker than ever before just to survive. People too often rely on what they know works and maintain the status quo. You cannot do the same thing the same way repeatedly and expect to reach a new level. Don’t be afraid to show leadershp by taking risks. Disrupt!
2. Become a team player on a diverse team.
From my college days as an offensive lineman, I know the importance of teamwork. Business is a team sport. I've never met an individual who can accomplish a complex business task better than a team focused on that same task. Almost everything you do in business requires collaboration, in-depth ‘choreography’ and unselfish participation to succeed. Building a competent and varied team will allow for diverse, disruptive opinions (see above) to improve your business. When managing your team, move away from traditional hierarchies, and look to more horizontal structures that will inspire and motivate folks to work together.
Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People
3. Define your vision of what success looks like.
Successful entrepreneurs have long-term visions. They define what they want their business to look like in five years, ten years, fifteen years, and even further. When you set out to create a vision, you must ask yourself a few questions: Where is it you want to go? What’s holding you back from getting there? With any journey there will be highs and there will be lows. Your vision grounds you and keeps you focused on the end goal. Every successful entrepreneur who takes this journey will continually ask themselves several critical questions: What’s going right? What’s going wrong? What must we do differently? How do we course correct?
4. Train every day.
Very successful people are extremely hard workers. The road to entrepreneurial success is not a 100-yard, one-mile or five-mile race – it’s a marathon. And like any marathon, there are no shortcuts to victory or to greatness. Spending an extra five minutes to send a thank you note to your colleague or to reach out to a customer to ensure their issue has been solved goes a long way. I never bet on luck because I just wasn’t one of those people who got to where he was by way of luck. I got here by hard work, by sticking to my ethics, always taking the extra step and by knowing what my vision of success looks like.
5. Have fun.
This one is simple. Have fun. When you enjoy your work, you will always excel, and the likelihood that you will achieve your business goals is significantly higher. Furthermore, your passion and excitement for your business becomes infectious. Your employees will excel, as will their commitment to your business. Clients and customers will also be engaged and inspired, as your passion provides assurances about the quality of your product or service.
Whatever role you play in your organization, you have the opportunity to be an innovator and a pioneer in defining your vision for the future. I encourage you to push the limits of what’s possible and work harder than you’ve ever worked before -- you just might make it.