Lara Galloway and Erin Baebler are the authors of “Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur” (Career Press, Oct 2014). They are both certified coaches, mothers, and entrepreneurs.
“We both want to help other women succeed and that’s what this book … and this work we do is all about.”
There is much written about what it takes to be a successful business owner.
Passion, focus, and persistence show up again and again as traits you must have if you want to be an entrepreneur.
However, we’ve uncovered some additional behaviors that don’t traditionally go along with the busy life of an entrepreneur but that can be of great benefit.
Here are five traits of successful entrepreneurs that might surprise you.
1. They say no
Most people assume that it’s best to take any and every opportunity that comes your way when you are just starting out. However, it’s pretty important to be able to say no to something that doesn’t support your business or your current priorities. Successful business owners are clear on what is most important to them and they use those priorities to assess whether or not it’s the right time for whatever possibilities are out there.
The bottom line is this: There just isn’t enough time in the day to say yes to every request you receive. Once you have your priorities in place, you’ll be able to use them as a guide for when to say yes and when a simple “no, thanks” is the right answer.
2. They take breaks and vacations
When you think about starting or growing a business, you may think you’ll have no choice but to put in long hours every day for the foreseeable future. We don’t dispute that it takes a lot of time and effort to make a business grow and thrive. The most effective business owners, though, know that it’s impossible to run full steam ahead for a sustained period of time.
Everyone needs a different amount of time off, and the type of business you are in will also dictate what is possible. The one constant is that we all need to step away and recharge so we have the energy and stamina we need to keep going.
Assess your needs. Do you need an hour break in the middle of the day? Do you need to take weekends off no matter what? Are you the type who absolutely must have a week off every year? It’s OK—and often necessary—for you to take breaks that will allow you to be your best. Plus, taking some time off actually brings with it a clarity that you just don’t have access to when you are “in it” 24/7.
3. They create a company that allows time and space for the rest of their life
We highly recommend starting as you mean to continue. By this, we mean that you’ll need to allow time for the rest of your life if you want your business to be successful long term. Sure, when you’ve first launched, things might be out of balance for a while. But, if you have a husband or wife, if you have kids, or if physical fitness is important to you, you just can’t ignore those for the long haul.
We recommend designing your work week with the rest of your life in mind. If you start that way, it will become your norm and you’ll know your parameters from the outset.
If, instead, you go full throttle on your business to the neglect of your relationships and the rest of your life, at some point you’re going to have to stop and rebuild those areas. That takes time, which will be just as hard to come by later.
By setting a reasonable work schedule in the beginning, you’ll have time to pursue the more balanced life that you’ll want now and going forward.
4. They break some rules
This builds on the prior point about beginning as you mean to continue. We all have an idea of how we think things are supposed to be. These ideas come from society, our family, our friends, and our own thoughts and ideals. We encourage you to consider breaking some of those rules if they don’t work for you.
For instance, the traditional work day is nine to five. But, what if your children go to school at seven and get home at three? Maybe you could start work early and be finished when they get home.
Or, what if you know that the best way to get new clients is to make cold calls, but the thought of that makes you want to crawl out of your skin? Well, how about coming up with a way to make contacts and build relationships that you really enjoy?
The point is, it doesn’t have to look a certain way. Successful people give themselves permission to have their business and their life work for them—even if that means they don’t conform to what’s expected. When you design your business and your life in a way that really works for you, working in the business and living in that life will be infinitely more enjoyable. Authenticity is a word that is brought up all the time these days. Creating a business that reflects your authenticity is the very best way we can think of to be on your way to success.
5. They take really good care of themselves
When you are launching a business, self-care often falls to the bottom of the list. In fact, even when you aren’t launching a business, self-care is probably pretty far down there for most of us. And, that is a perfect reflection of how short-sighted we are in some areas of life. What could be more important, after all, than making sure the person in charge of your business and your life is in tip top shape physically, mentally, and emotionally? We can’t think of a thing.
The thought that usually comes up when people think about taking really good care of themselves is that it seems selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking care of yourself ensures that you are then able to take good care of your business and the people in your life.
Eating healthy and getting some exercise give you the energy you need to get through the busy days. Hanging out with friends gives you a mental, emotional, and physical boost unlike any other. Meditation, going on walks to clear your head, or taking long baths let us reset in a way that is crucial to having the wherewithal to get up tomorrow and do it all over again. The most successful business owners know this and put it into practice on a regular basis.
Lara Galloway and Erin Baebler are the authors of “Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur” (Career Press, Oct 2014). Both are available for comment. They are both certified coaches, mothers, and entrepreneurs.
Do you find one of these five traits especially important? Is there one you would add to the list? Tell us in the comments!