Much is made of analysing the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs. Some appear outgoing. Others are introverts. Some lean right, others left. Some are flashy. Others are monk-like with their money. Their diversity can lead one to the conclusion that there are no common personality traits among successful founders.
Rather than trying to understand who they are, let’s look at what they do. We’ve had the opportunity to help many businesses improve their value, with some going on to exit their business for seven, eight, or even nine figures. As such, we have a unique vantage point from which to observe the owners who achieve the most financial success.
This has allowed us to observe three things the most successful owners do differently:
1. They read business books.
The most successful business owners are voracious consumers of business content. When a new business book hits the bestseller list, most have either read it or summarised its central point. It’s not just the printed word. Many get information through audiobooks, webinars, or podcasts, others via YouTube. The actual medium is less important to these successful founders. What’s consistent is their continuous learning pattern and the desire to leverage other people’s smart ideas and put them to work in their own company. Bill Gates is worth $114 billion. He also happens to read over 50 books a year.
What’s good about this approach is that it’s so cost-effective. An author may have spent months writing a book, encapsulating decades of experience and knowledge. It’s all yours for a few pounds. A lot of other content is free. A few hours reading or listening every week could give you the insights you need to transform your business. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of it?
2. They join masterminds.
In the absence of having a board of directors or a large team, successful founders often use a peer board to hold themselves accountable and gain an outside perspective when they’re stuck. Initially popularised by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, Think & Grow Rich, a mastermind gathers a small group of peers to act as one another’s board. Often led by a chair, these groups become lifelines for owners as they navigate big decisions in their businesses and personal lives.
Running a business may feel like a lonely career path, but successful business people never go it alone. They seek out the advice of others. They listen to people who have overcome big problems. They become sponges, soaking up the information and insights that other business owners can bring.
3. They ask questions.
The character trait that makes successful entrepreneurs inclined to read business books and join peer groups is their natural curiosity. They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. No matter how successful, they never get full. They don’t standstill. They want to learn more so that they can incorporate new ideas and methodologies into their business. This is particularly pertinent now when many companies are having to find fresh approaches to get through the economic downturn.
You may be surprised to see that this list doesn’t include the stereotypical attributes of successful entrepreneurs. Yes, many founders are also action oriented, competitive, tenacious, hard-working, but these common personality traits simply explain who they are. What is more telling is what they do. Actions are the measure of a person.
Take a look at what a founder does to stay sharp, and you’ll see a consistent pattern among the most successful entrepreneurs. They don’t say – I’m too busy to read a book, go to a meeting of business peers, become curious. Quite the opposite. They find time to embrace all three. And that’s what sets them apart.