While there’s a lot of discussion around whether entrepreneurs are born or made, I think there’s another question to consider:
Are entrepreneurs lucky, or is it something more?
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#1. They Make Tons of Mistakes … But Learn From Them
No one likes making mistakes. They make us feel foolish and inexperienced. But consider how you recover from the mistakes you make: do you try to ignore what happened, or do you make an effort to sit with that mistake and learn from it?
The latter is a success strategy that smart hustlers use. They aren’t afraid to fail, and when they do, they leverage that failure to help them do even better in the future.
#2. They’re Constantly Looking for Opportunities
Opportunity doesn’t just happen when you’re working 9 to 5. Opportunity can happen at the grocery store. A party. While playing basketball. Networking beyond the traditional sense (business meetings and mixers) can offer up some pretty fantastic opportunities, but you have to be ready.
How do you prepare? Have that elevator speech at the tip of your tongue. Keep your business cards handy. Ask people what they do, and tell them about your business and mission.
#3. They’re Not Afraid of Hard Work
Listen, friend, if you want to be an entrepreneur so you can make millions by barely lifting a finger, go back to watching fiction television shows that portray that lifestyle. It simply doesn’t happen. No one hands you anything in life, let alone success. You have to be willing to fight for it and work hard to get it.
Now, that may mean that you put in long hours sometimes. You may have to choose between work and family events. None of this is easy. If it were, everyone would be an entrepreneur.
#4. They Take Advantage of Opportunities When Presented
If there’s one piece of cake left on the plate, do you take it or hesitate and give someone else the chance to snag it? If you do the latter, you’re missing out. That cake is delicious. Smart hustlers grab an opportunity when they see it. They don’t wait around to let someone else benefit from it.
#5. They Have (or Fake) Confidence
Being able to jump onto opportunities has to do largely with confidence. Smart hustlers believe in their ability to benefit from an opportunity, and their skills in general. They’re not the shy wallflowers; they’re the ones front and center stage getting the attention (and the money).
You have to feel worthy of the opportunities that come your way to take advantage of them. If you don’t feel that confidence, fake it. It seems silly, but often just practicing that confidence and bravado can make it real.
#6. They See the Big Picture
Success isn’t an overnight thing, despite what the media tries to portray. Smart hustlers know that small wins today will help fulfill bigger goals. They’re thinking about the 10-year plan, not what’s happening tomorrow. But they’re also good at aligning what happens tomorrow with long-term objectives.
Consider how you’re working on your business currently. Are you so focused on the day-to-day that you don’t come up for air and to look at where you where you want to take your business? Having a direction in mind — even if it’s a general direction — can guide you in your decision-making.
#7. They Create Their Own Opportunities
Successful entrepreneurs don’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come to them. They carve out situations they can leverage even when none seem to exist. Even if something has never been done before, that’s no reason why it can’t be done now!
Look at the world with the lens not of “what’s been done before” but of “what’s possible?” You’ll find that opportunities can be converted from the seemingly impossible if you’re willing to work on them.
#8. Obstacles Only Make Them Persevere
You’re short on money. Your best employee quit. Your major stock order is delayed two weeks. Hurdles like these happen to all of us, and they can make or break us as entrepreneurs. But smart hustlers understand that a single obstacle is just a tiny blip on the long-term journey.
Rather than getting overwhelmed the next time something goes wrong, consider what good it will do to wring your hands. Are there other more productive ways to deal with the situation? Reframing a setback in a slightly more positive light can help you push past it.
#9. Innovation and Creativity are Essential
Have you ever met a boring successful entrepreneur? My guess is probably not. Success stories are peppered with people like Steve Jobs or Oprah, both of whom are shining examples of creativity at its best. I think that successful business owners’ brains simply operate at a higher frequency, and those innovative ideas just pour forth.
But even if innovation and creativity don’t come naturally to you, that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture these traits. Spend time looking at problems — or even products — from a different angle. See them from your customer’s perspective. From your competitor’s. Heck, see them from your dog’s perspective. You just might find something interesting.
#10. There’s No “Final Success” for Them
Success is not the top of a mountain for these smart hustlers. You don’t work hard and then simply “get there.” Instead, success is a series of mountains. They may reach the top of one, congratulate themselves, then hike on to the next one.
Don’t set your sights on one single success as the be all, end all of your career. Instead, make success a moving target. Be happy and somewhat satisfied when you complete one goal, but continue looking for your next growth opportunity.
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