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Habits of Successful Businesspeople

Updated on April 10, 2013

Business Success

As the owner of an advertising agency I am able to meet many people from all types of businesses. I meet people who are just starting a business and people who want to get more clients for their existing business. After having a large number of meetings with all types of people I've come to find some common traits among successful business people. I've seen people start businesses with or without a lot of money, experience or education. I've seen so many different types of businesspeople yet some things are consistent in the habits of all of the successful people I've met.

Successful People Are Determined To Be Successful

Sounds Simple Right?

Everyone who starts a new business is determined to be successful aren't they? If they weren't determined to be successful why would they waste their time and money starting a new business? This isn't a blog about why people make bad choices but about the good decisions I've seen successful people make.

A number of years ago my job was to manage a real estate office. The main job of the manager of a real estate office is to constantly recruit new people. This is necessary because there is always someone who would get the idea that quitting their job to "show houses" for a living sounded like a much better option. This is where I first noticed that some people will be successful while others won't. They all claimed that they wanted to be successful but the successful ones behaved differently. The first mistake was to assume that you'd have more free time and you only have to show houses. Real estate sales and insurance sales are two of the most difficult jobs in the world because they both involve the sale of intangibles. Sure the house is tangible enough but the real estate agents job is to get listings. A "listing" is when you get a homeowner to sign a contract allowing you to advertise and sell their house for them. That is the intangible part of the business but it is where the money is made. When you have the most listings in a neighborhood then it is your signs in the front yards of homes and your phone number on those signs so you are the one who gets the majority of the buyers so that you can "show homes".

So the first sign of a person having a better than average chance of success is when they are willing to take a realistic look at the actual job they want to do or business they want to start. In real estate sales this means being willing to call people who don't want you to call because they are trying to sell on their own. You get an appointment with these people who don't want to see you because they want to sell it cheaper without a broker and you show them how you can do a better job, faster and get them a higher price. It is a tough sell and people who don't realize that will likely quit within a short time of the day they started.

When it was my job to recruit new people into the real estate business the failures were the ones who in their first week said, "I can't go on an appointment until my business cards are printed". The successful people said, "I'll go on the appointment and tell them I ran out of business cards".

The failures would always be able to think of logical reasons why they can't be successful. Logically you can't go on an appointment without a business card the failure would reason.

The successful person will only think of ways to make something work! Successful people will not dedicate time to thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

Sometimes by mistake I'd keep someone longer than I should have hoping against odds that they would become successful in real estate. They generally give themselves away by stating for anyone who will listen all the reasons why they won't make the calls needed in order to get the appointments with the homeowners. They would complain that people aren't moving here like they used to, the interest rates are too high, it is too difficult to get financing and so on.

A great business owner once told me that he only listens to people who will talk about how to overcome obstacles and refuses to listen to the people who want to complain about the obstacles to success. He told me that the people who come in at night and empty the trash cans are smart enough to know that it is hard to get financing but he isn't in the habit of taking advice from janitors.

The failures would sometimes tell me in the interview about their intention to fail. They would say, "I wanted to try real estate". The successful people would say, "You just tell me what to do to be successful and I'll do whatever it takes". I also learned that it is difficult to guess upfront who will be successful but you can usually spot the failures. The reason is that for a while people can pretend to be dedicated and committed to a new business or career.

If you want to become a doctor this isn't something you "try". You have to be very committed to working long hours and study all night while your friends go out on dates. People are simply not able to give doctoring a try because it requires too many years of education; in other words commitment. However people will try a lot of other careers halfheartedly and fail. In many businesses if you have a few thousand dollars and lack conviction and determination you can "try" something new for a while until you fail.

Successful people don't "try" a new business they make a serious commitment to their new career.

Make a Commitment To Your Business Success

Never "Try" a New Career or Business

A potential client was in a meeting with me and about 20 other business owners all trying to help each other. The potential client owned a small business and wanted to grow it into a bigger business but couldn't seem to make any headway. Others in the group asked him why he delivered the products himself when they could easily be shipped by a delivery service. The potential client expressed his desire to show good customer service by hand carrying his products to his clients. Most of the others in the room told him this is the very reason that they didn't buy from him. They felt guilty buying small amounts knowing that he would get into a truck and drive to their office for a $50 order. He was very surprised to hear this because he always thought people liked the personal service. With most of his sales being under $50 most people who knew him wouldn't buy from him. They suggested that he should have professional website designers make an ecommerce website for him where people not just in the local area but everywhere could order from his company. He reluctantly agreed that this seemed like a good idea but he stated that he didn't want to make such a drastic change overnight.

This comment was the first sign of failure.

When a room full of people who are just trying to help you have told you why they won't buy from you then it is time to immediately stop what you are doing. A successful person would have stated (boldly and in a loud voice), "I'm going to get started on this right away, I never realized that I was standing in the way of my own success".

The potential client showed signs of hope when he came to our company and met with our logo designers. He agreed to change the name of his company which had "South Florida" in the name and allowed us to suggest a new name, logo, business cards, letterhead and envelopes. However, he wanted to wait on the main part of the project; the part that everyone told him he needed, an ecommerce website so he could sell all around the country. So what did he do with his new logo, business cards, letterhead and envelopes? Well he continued to make deliveries locally. This guy just couldn't stop thinking small and now that about three years have passed without an ecommerce website he has reverted back to the old company name.

Successful Business People Do This

Follow The Leaders And Be Successful

A potential client came to our office a few years ago and wanted to start a new business manufacturing products. The products have a commercial application and seemed to be very good products from the descriptions that the client gave but there was a problem. From his first day in this new business our potential new client was about to go up against Fortune 500 corporations and try to compete for business.

How does a new guy compete with Fortune 500 corporations?

This businessman had one thing going for him; he had the right attitude. He wasn't going to "try" this and see how it worked out; he was going to successfully compete with Fortune 500 companies and that was all there was to that.

Someone who lacked confidence may have said, "I'm just going to start out small with some inexpensive tri-fold brochures and one day have some nicer marketing materials designed". This was not the path for our new client; he correctly stated, "If I'm going to compete with the Fortune 500 companies then I need to look like a Fortune 500 company".

Our programmers built a database driven website so that our client could make updates on his own over the years. Our graphic artists designed an elaborate brochure which consisted of a two pocket folder, a tri-fold brochure which fit in a slit in one of the pockets, several inserts and a large quad-fold brochure which was held in place in a side pocket. Everything matched and used the same colors, red, black, gray and white. Our client looked like a Fortune 500 company from the day his business started.

Today his products are in over 100 countries

Successful Businesswoman Descrbes Problems She Had To Deal With - Also A Website Design Testimonial

This client wanted to look like a very successful large company from day one. She lost a year and a half of her time and money working with other website designers but didn't let that stop her.

From the start she was determined to be successful.

Listen to her story and learn about how she is now an official vendor for Super Bowl 2010.

Surviving An Economic Downturn - When Times Are Tough Don't Give Away The Store

Whenever business gets slow the first reaction many business owners have is that they'd better cut their prices just so that they will have some business. The idea is that some customers are better than no customers so they cut prices attempting to compete with big competitors. Often the solution to the problem is to look for what makes you unique; find your unique advantage in the marketplace and promote that.

Successful Business People - Read about successful business people

You too can learn to be a successful businessperson. Read about the habits of leaders in business.

Do you own a business? Do you consider yourself to be a successful businessperson? Tell your story here.

Successful Businesspeople - How are you doing?

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