9 Ultimate Habits of Great Entrepreneurs
There is a pattern to the behaviours of successful entrepreneurs. They think and act in a unique and rare way.
They take everyday experiences and transform them into billion-dollar brands like Virgin, Apple and Nike. They think impossible doesn't exist.
The approach of leading innovators results in everything from beautifully designed products to launching rockets into outer space. These products give us delight, wonder, and a few goosebumps. And some of us hope to create things that can do the same too.
Over the last year, Chad and I have studied over 30 entrepreneurs and innovators for our Moonshots Podcast. There are powerful reoccurring themes in the ideas and actions of entrepreneurs. From young emerging talents in Europe to the tech titans of Silicon Valley.
There is a universal innovation formula for innovation success.
We've reviewed the Moonshot archives and here are the top ten things successful entrepreneurs do.
1. Move fast and break things
Nobody does this better than Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Sure they're going through a rough patch at the moment, but don't forget - he built a $500 Billion brand in a decade.
Interestingly, Google founders Larry and Serge have the same bias towards action and agility. But they operate as engineers in more of an open systems manner.
2. Solve a problem you care about
Yvon Chouinard founder of Patagonia and Oprah are the icons of mission-driven entrepreneurs. Their success starts with the fact they care about the issues they are trying to solve.
Some people say follow your passion or your heart. But the nuance we discovered in the Moonshots Podcast, is that theme that ties entrepreneurs together is not love. The entrepreneurial mission comes from profoundly caring about the problem they are trying to solve.
This mission is close to following your heart and passion. But these drivers are not the same thing. Your heart and emotions operate beyond business. Stuff like family, friends and all our odd curiosities and hobbies.
As long as you sincerely care about the outcomes you want to see in the world, you'll have the relentless courage to make it happen.
3. The obstacle is the way
Elena Carstoiu, a young entrepreneur in Bucharest, shares some compelling thoughts on following your path, no matter how hard. And it's a pre-requisite for any entrepreneur. Most companies fail. If your business survives two years, then you're doing well. Survive five years, and that's remarkable.
How do you keep going through the tough times? Fred Smith encourages budding entrepreneurs to learn from their mistakes and plain-old 'Get over it!'. Don't take it personally, because if you're not failing, then you're playing too safe.
4. The risk is not what you think it is
Ioan Iacob, my friend and founder of QUALITANCE, was another guest on our live Bucharest show. His success has been his ability to make bold moves and build a global software company.
At heart, his approach is looking into the future and making big moves. Unlike many people with bold ideas, he's able to break down risk from a mountain into a molehill. With the fear taken out of the equation, he's ready to make big and daring moves that usually block most from taking radical approaches.
And this same risk-reduction technique is what Elon Musk does. He uses his mental models and insight to break a problem down into what appears to him, and not others, to be a viable solution.
5. Obsess about customers
Joe Gebbia from Airbnb and Jeff Bezos of Amazon obsess about customers. While they do it in different ways, the result is the same: magical customer experiences.
Airbnb designs magical experiences that build trust for both guests and hosts alike. Hence, the world of the hotel business is experiencing massive disruption due to a company that has one app and not any real estate.
Jeff Bezos and the Amazon obsession with customer value is equally as compelling. They even put it at the heart of their mission statement. Amazon looks to maximise customer value above all things. And that's the source of their enormous momentum.
6. Do important things regardless of the odds
Elon Musk and Larry Page of Google both believe in tackling significant problems. Larry talks about innovation being the idea of working something that's 'uncomfortably exciting'.
Both Musk and Page started with significant problems and solved them with radical approaches. They have been so successful that we forget 20 years ago that both Google and Tesla ideas would have sounded ridiculous. Because they tackled important challenges, they are both global brand empires with enormous impact on the world.
7. Turn frustrations into business
Yvon Chouinard learnt to be a blacksmith so he could make better mountain climbing gear. A stranded Branson needed an airline to make a date he had on a tropical island. So Branson charted a flight and walked around the airport with a chalkboard offering cheap seats on his jet charter jet.
What resulted from these two unlikely entrepreneurs has been two of the most respected brands on the planet. And it all started with looking at the problems in the world as entrepreneurial opportunities.
8. Work on stuff that matters
Tim O'Reilly is one the godfathers of the internet. He's created O'Reilly Books, a publishing empire along with being a creator of open source software, and the author of many influential books.
The source of his success is that he elevates the mission of everything he does. But his most potent thought that we can all learn from is to 'Work on stuff that matters'.
9. Always be Learning
Fred Smith talks a lot about learning. He sees learning as the essential tool for reaching your potential. "To play at a high level,
you have to absorb the lessons of history."
In fact, almost all entrepreneurs are curious souls with a bias to knowledge. Richard Branson even carries a little notebook everywhere he goes. In-Case a good idea comes to him at the moment.