21 Powerful habits behind highly successful business owners

habits

Over the years I have worked with thousands of business owners. Many of these were successful, some were hugely successful.

Acquiring the habits for success

I noticed that the most successful business owners shared certain habits. They did things, which the average business owner didn’t do. I decided to learn from them… to acquire their habits, to see if it would help me.

It did. It really did. In big, meaningful, measurable ways.

So, in brief, here’s what I learned from them:

  1. They are driven by a passion to do something big. Something that motivates them AND those around them.
  2. They personalise their business, so it’s uniquely theirs. One of a kind. Rare and valuable.
  3. They know success is about more than money… that if you’re rich and unhappy, you’re still broke.
  4. They show people, rather than tell people. Anyone can claim anything, so they walk the walk.
  5. They out-care their competition. It shines through everything they do.
  6. They out-smart their competitors too.
  7. They set standards, extremely high, self-imposed standards… and they achieve them.
  8. They ignore the manual and write their own rules.
  9. They focus on what they want, not what they fear.
  10. They are excellent decision makers. They get the information required, study it, request advice if needed, then decide.
  11. They avoid those costly detours, which come disguised as shortcuts to success.
  12. They work hard. You can’t sleepwalk your way to the top… or even the middle.
  13. They also relax. If you work smart during work time, you can relax when it’s family and friends time.
  14. They seldom watch TV. None (zero) of the most successful people I know, bother with TV.
  15. They are extremely selective who they associate with and who they recommend.
  16. They lead. The world already has enough followers and the followers need leaders.
  17. They manage their time extremely well.
  18. They deliberately build a valuable network of people — before they need them.
  19. They are willing to stand out. They know it’s the only way to be outstanding.
  20. They summon the courage to do what’s required, rather than what feels comfortable.
  21. They make promises… then keep them.

Those are just some of the habits I have discovered and road tested, which improved my business and life beyond recognition.

I hope you find them useful, but more importantly, I hope you decide to try and make at least one of them a habit.

Are you good enough? I hope not. Here’s why!

good enough

Consider the following:

  1. Most small businesses are good enough. Their products, services and marketing are good enough.
  2. A tiny minority of small businesses are great. Their products, services and marketing are great.
  3. Great beats good enough every time.

It’s easy to be good enough: It’s about being average. Just follow the other followers and you’ll be good enough, just like they are.

It’s trickier to be great: It’s about being exceptional. You need to be prepared to set your own goals, set your own priorities and lead.

You have already chosen

Whether you know it or not, you have already chosen one of those paths. If you’re not sure which path you chose, take a look at the clients you work with, the fees you earn and the number of referrals you attract. Are they great? Are they massively above average?

If you think you’re on the wrong path… either settle for average or switch to great.

Oh, and if you think switching to great is hard, you haven’t understood the price people pay for being average.

So, you want more from your business? Try this!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

To grow your business successfully, you need all 3 of the following:

  1. A substantial number of prospective clients, who you can locate and connect with.
  2. These prospective clients need to have a problem, which your service provides the answer to.
  3. Finally, they need to be willing and able to pay you for solving their problem.

That’s what you need for a successful business. And for most people, that’s all they want.

However, if you want even more from your business, something exceptional, you need to know the following.

Truly exceptional businesses are a little different

Exceptional businesses do 1 thing differently. To be exceptional, you need to change number 2 on that list, to this:

These prospective clients need to have a problem, which ONLY your service provides the answer to.

Yes, it takes more effort to develop a uniquely valuable product or service, but the rewards are disproportionately high. For example, you no longer have to compete for business based on fees. Also, by deliberately choosing the type of problem to solve, you can predetermine the quality of clients you work with.

Here’s a suggestion

Think about gaps in the market — problems that are currently not being solved by existing providers. Dig deep. Stick with it until you get some answers. Keep working on it. Give it the time and energy it needs.

Why? Because you only need to get this right once, for your whole world to change!

Tip: This will help you get started.

Here’s why your business isn’t growing and how to fix it

Business development

The basics of building a successful business are easy to find. There are countless business manuals that explain the process.

So, why do most small businesses slowly go broke or end up being little more than a poorly paid job for their owner?

I believe I have found the answer. And I’m going to share it with you.

The truth about business success

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I’ve found that time and time again, business success comes from doing the things you won’t find in a manual. Those basics are essential just to survive. To thrive, you need to do what isn’t in the book.

You need to think independently. For example.

  • Turn traditional business models on their heads. Perhaps you could give away the thing that’s usually expensive and charge for something else. You get the idea.
  • Create happiness in the hearts of your customers, rather than sell them a commodity.
  • Build your business around a team of people with individual talents, rather than an easy to copy system.
  • Make being one of your clients a unique, remarkable experience, which your clients tell their friends about. Think Tom’s Shoes or Apple.

Have you noticed something about those ideas? They sound risky. The reason they sound risky is that most small businesses prefer to follow a predictable path. They are risk-averse. So, they play follow-the-follower. This is why small businesses are almost always dull, financially challenged, stressful and going nowhere.

Building your remarkable business

Clearly, it takes courage to build a remarkable small business. This is because for some reason, many business owners feel safer following what their competitors are doing.

  • Even though they can see it isn’t working, their dull, predictable business is paying the bills.
  • Even though they’re settling for a lifestyle that’s not what they dreamed about, [because it’s all their average business can sustain], it feels safe.

In short: Their fear of failure stops them from succeeding.

The future belongs to those who are willing to risk being average, in order to become excellent.

Dive in, sink or swim?

As business owners, we have 3 models we can follow:

  1. Dive in, learn and succeed.
  2. Sink with fear.
  3. Swim.

Dive in, learn and succeed: If someone risks investing in a new business model, they could fail. However, they are then able to use what they learned from the experience, so that their next project has a massively better chance of success. This is the model I use for my business. It’s also a model I work on with lots of my clients. And it works. Beautifully.

Sink with fear: If someone carries on with an average business, which will slowly go broke or leave them with little more than a poorly paid job for the rest of their life, they will definitely sink. This is the model followed by almost all small business owners.

Swim: If they summon the courage to invest in their business idea, to work with passion and create something of huge value, they could swim. This model is what happens when you get it right first time. Rare, but wonderful.

That may not seem like much of a choice, but it’s all you have.

Exposed: The great Leadership lie!

leaders, leadership

Leaders lead. That’s what they do.

They don’t tell us they are leaders. They don’t self-proclaim to be leaders in their social media profiles or on the about pages of their websites. Instead, they lead.

Leaders are easy to spot

When everyone else is flapping, looking for someone to lead the way, the leader is the one who steps in. The leader commands our respect.

We all know leaders and in every instance, they don’t need to tell us they are leaders. They literally lead by example.

Leaders are courageous. They stand up for what they believe in. They inspire others by what they do. They’re massively valuable and extremely rare.

Fake leaders are even easier to spot

Instead of leading, the fakers tell us they are leaders and hope no one notices. But we do notice. We see them acting like sheep; sharing leadership quotes on social sites, having their photo taken with leaders… yet never actually leading.

For fake leaders it’s about telling, not showing. It’s about talking and bluster, not action. It’s about self-proclaimed titles, not the respect of their marketplace or community. It’s about following the flock, not leading.

Don’t fall for the great leadership lie

The lesson here is simple. Be suspicious of anyone who self-proclaims that they are a leader. Instead, decide for yourself based on what a person does and what they fail to do. Leaders lead. They don’t talk about it. They do it.

Read this: 7 Habits of highly successful leaders.

How to inspire your marketplace and attract the best clients

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Nothing is more average than the average business!

These are the businesses that work for average clients and earn average fees. These hardworking folk look to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement. Why? Because they know there’s no future in being yet another average business. It’s a constant struggle. It’s stressful.

Today, I’m going to show you how to avoid the average trap and grow a successful, inspirational business.

The inspiration premium

Whilst average businesses struggle, inspirational businesses thrive. Maybe the most famous example came from the last recession, where Apple achieved record sales and record profits. They did this, selling high priced devices, which inspired their fans to spend billions of dollars with them.

Did you notice that? Apple has fans, not customers. That’s because when you inspire your marketplace, people position you or your brand very differently in their mind. And yes, this works for small businesses, too!

Take a look at any area of your business, which you think is underperforming. Now, instead of comparing that area of your business with what your competitors are doing, I want you to set your bar massively higher.

For example:

  • If you want people to tell their friends how great your service is, provide a service that inspires word of mouth referrals. Like Disney.
  • If you want more repeat clients or customers, do something that inspires them to return. Like Apple.
  • If you want more enquiries from your newsletter, write content that inspires people to contact you. Like Evernote.

In short: Walk away from average. Embrace inspirational.

It’s easier said than done, Jim!

Yes, of course it’s easier said than done. However, it’s not that hard.

This is especially the case for small business owners. You can use your agility to make the necessary improvements, starting right now. Whether it’s Disney, Apple, Rolex or another inspirational brand, look at what they’re doing. Look at how they are inspiring their marketplace.

Learn from the best. Let them set the bar on what you expect from yourself and your business. It takes more effort, but it’s far easier than owning a business that works for average clients and average fees.

This will help you to get started: How to grow your business, with Agile Thinking.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

blogging, blog tips, content marketing

This is a very important post. If you want to get more business, feedback and recognition from your blog, this could be exactly what you need to know.

The post was inspired by an email I received from Shannon. She kindly gave me permission to share part of it with you. Here’s the core challenge she wanted help with, along with my answer and lots of tips and examples to help you build a successful business blog.

Here’s what Shannon wanted to know:

“I’ve been blogging for close to three years now. It’s been frustrating to say the least! […]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from [she mentioned a very well known blogging site] totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as countless other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by well known bloggers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true: The closer you follow the same general format, rules and techniques as everyone else, the less likely you are to achieve anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I created one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, using a more individual approach.

I didn’t SEO my posts

I decided to write for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts.

Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software. This means they are often too long, just so she can reach her minimum SEO word count and keyword density. Posts that should be information rich and 250 words long, are filled with fluff to make them more SEO friendly. It has totally robbed her of her voice and individuality.

Google likes it. However, it reads like crap. As a result, Shannon attracts drive-by traffic, rather than client enquiries.

Tip: Read this – Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

I didn’t guest blog

I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it.

This approach works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites.

Many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Or the second best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it. She’s not alone.

Build your own platform. Put the primary value on your own turf. Don’t be someone else’s unpaid content provider.

I removed comments

It was summer 2013, when I removed the commenting feature from my blog. Blog commenting is a vestige from the days before social networks. It was also a huge time suck for me, as I often got 2500 spam comments a day.

It was still a tough decision though. The only other person I knew who’d done it was Seth Godin, and he had a very different reason. But it was the right thing to do. So I did it.

Back then, I was attacked. Social media gurus said you HAD TO have comments on your blog or it wasn’t a blog.

Today, the mood is changing.

Since I removed comments, other popular blogs including; copyblogger, Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt, have done the same. And they’re absolutely right.

My point is that you need to question perceived wisdom. Then if you believe something needs to change, do it your way. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you — be prepared to lead. We need more leaders.

Shannon has comments enabled and she gets very little feedback. Many comments are from people trying to get backlinks or score free advice from her. This lack of so-called social proof, does nothing to enhance Shannon’s reputation. It also makes her blog look like a ghost town, when prospective clients check her out.

I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links

When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me than affiliate money.

Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for 3 products. None are related to her profession. It makes her site look cheap, which is toxic for a service provider.

I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords

Disrupt, ruckus, growth hacking, big data, intersection… buzzwords like those fail twice.

  • Firstly, they make informed people cringe.
  • Secondly, they confuse the uninformed. That’s a bad idea if you want people to understand your message!

Shannon’s blog uses lots of content marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. I update older posts daily, to keep the information relevant. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m not feeling great.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

Their advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, general advice.

If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to grow your business with Agile Thinking

agile thinking, advanced thinking

Business is changing. Moreover, business is changing fast!

This is great news for agile business owners, who embrace the opportunities. However, it’s not such great news for business owners who are working in today’s rapidly changing environment, with a 1995 approach to business.

In today’s post, I share some ideas on how you can benefit from the new opportunities around you. First, I’d like to demonstrate how things have changed and why we need to apply a new mindset, to the new landscape.

A new mindset for a new landscape

Many of the world’s most influential businesses were unknown 20 years ago. Some, such as Facebook and Twitter, weren’t founded until the mid 2000’s. That kind of global growth was previously unthinkable. What’s more, billion dollar companies that lead their industries have been started by relative unknowns, in very untraditional ways.

Here’s a great example. Writing in Techcrunch, Tom Goodwin summed up the new age of agile business:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Tom is right. Something interesting is happening. None of those achievements or business models were possible until very recently. The game has changed. And it has changed for ever.

The age of agile business

When I look at small businesses, they tend to fall into one of the following 2 broad categories: They are either dinosaurs or agile progressives. That’s to say their approach to the agile business landscape means they are facing extinction or facing unparalleled success.

Armed with a laptop and an idea, there’s very little an agile business cannot achieve.

  • The new business landscape allows an agile small business owner to have an idea in the morning, and put that idea into play before the end of business that same day.
  • Using social networks, we can listen to what our marketplace wants and provide that want. No more guess work. You can get it right every time. And in a fraction of the time.
  • Instant access to data, means research that took weeks or months can now be done in days and at a fraction of the price.
  • With a great marketing email and some email software, a struggling business can generate a fortune in sales…  and fast!
  • With a blog and the correct strategy, anyone can develop their own reader community. I reach thousands of people every day, many of whom are prospective clients, without spending a penny on advertising or promotion.
  • If you have a great business idea, you no longer need a bank loan. Thanks to Indiegogo, Kickstarter and others, you can use crowdfunding and get exactly what you need.

In spite of all that potential, many small business owners operate their businesses with a 1995 mindset. They lack agility. This places them at a huge disadvantage.

  • They try and find customers for their products, instead of finding products for their customers.
  • They still take just as long to make a decision, even though they can get the feedback they need in a fraction of the time. As a result, their agile competitors have already eaten their lunch.
  • They use social networks to follow the crowd, rather than lead their marketplace.
  • They have a website that’s almost an online brochure, when they should have a site that’s a lead-generating machine.
  • They waste money advertising, when they should be building their own platform.
  • They waste time, money and energy attending networking groups, like it’s still 1980, rather than build their own audience or community.

In short: No matter what industry you are in. No matter where you are. Your potential right now is as limitless or limited as you choose.

Exposed: The great workaholic lie!

workaholic

Workaholics are not really workaholics.

It’s never work, which the so-called workaholic is addicted to. Instead, they’re hooked on the feelings that come from doing something they love. That passion and joy is what inspires them all day, every day.

When you do something you love, it’s natural to want to keep doing it.

  • It’s why Nile Rodgers still creates and performs.
  • It’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is still making movies.
  • It’s why Bill Gates is still making a difference.

ALL of those guys are in their 60’s. NONE of them need the money. What they do need, are the feelings associated with their “work”.

Conversely, someone who finds their work frustrating, boring or stressful, pays to go on vacation… to get away from work. They spend a tiny amount of time each year, doing what they love. They have the equation completely the wrong way around.

No one is addicted to meaningless work

If you get paid for doing what you love, you may be a passion-aholic. You could be a joy-aholic or even a pleasure-aholic. But you’re not a workaholic. No one is addicted to working, just for the sake of work.

  • Work without meaning is a way to pay the bills.
  • Work without meaning is empty.
  • Work without meaning leaves you doing things you don’t want to do, for the majority of your adult life.

If work feels like work for too many days in a row, switch sides. Join us!

Become a passion-aholic. Find what you love and make that your “work”. Transform your business from something you work in, to something that fills you with joy and passion… every day.

Can you do it? Yes, yes you can. I know because I’ve helped business owners worldwide to make it happen and experienced it in my own life since 1995. All you need is the right strategy and the courage to put it into place.

If you do that, I promise you will never work another day in your life.

Everything you need is within your reach

business development, business growth,

No matter what you want to achieve. No matter what situation you are in… everything you need is within your reach.

The books you need are within your reach

There are countless books, written by people who have overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Many of the classics are available for free online, such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

You can download a full, legal copy of the book using that link.

The ideas you need are within your reach

Great ideas are easier for you to access today than at any point in history. The Internet gives you instant access to insights from the greatest minds that have ever lived. And all without leaving your chair!

Careful research can lead you to a treasure trove of invaluable ideas, to inspire your creativity. The possibilities here are limitless.

The help you need is within your reach

If you have read the books, gathered the ideas and created something truly worth investing in, there is no shortage of people who can help you.

If you do something worth investing in, people will eagerly invest their time, energy and their money in you.

The expertise you need is within your reach

There are people, books, courses and audio programs within your reach, which can provide you with the expertise you need.

Oh… and if you think getting the expertise you need is expensive, wait until you see the price you will pay for ignoring it.

The key word in this blog post is reach

Whatever is holding you or your business back right now, can only do so if you allow it to. Those hurdles can be overcome, because everything you need is within your reach. The knowledge, contacts, investors, help and ideas are all there — but you need to reach for them.

Read the books, search for the ideas, seek out the people and get the expertise you need. Once you make that commitment and back it up with action, nothing can stop you. Nothing.