Subscribe to Inc. magazine

5 Habits of Great Entrepreneurs

The most successful entrepreneurs cultivate these behaviors to create great products and companies.

What does it take to create and build a company? I recently asked that question of Tom Asacker, author of the excellent book The Business of Belief. What emerged from that conversation was a set of behaviors that all great entrepreneurs have in common:

1. Believe

If athletes, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs actually examined the success rate of people in their field, they would talk themselves out of even trying. They would take the path of least resistance. They would go out and get a "real" job.

Belief provides the motivation to attempt things that, if you were entirely rational about them, you would never attempt. With belief, the "odds of success" become irrelevant. You continue to push forward until you achieve your dreams.

2. Empathize

Believing in yourself and what you're doing has a downside: It can make you blind to what other people believe and why they believe it. As a result, you become convinced that everybody sees the world the unique way that you see it.

Great entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to see the world from the perspective of their customers. Steve Jobs was a case in point. He certainly believed in Apple's products, but he presented them as something that customers could believe in.

3. Observe

Great entrepreneurs are observers of human nature and human behavior. They're profoundly curious about the patterns that guide people's lives and the activities that bring them pleasure and (especially) pain.

Therefore, if you want to create a product or service that people will love, keep your eyes and ears open.  When you hear somebody curse or swear because an existing product or service sucks, that's where there's money to be made.

4. Obsess

Great entrepreneurs are fanatical about improving their products and services. They never rest on their laurels or think merely in terms of incremental improvement. They'll spend extraordinary time and effort simply to get things right.

Thus, if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you must pay attention to every element, every process, and every stage of your product or service. There must be no detail so small that it escapes your notice.

5. Win

'Nuff said.

Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.


Last updated: Feb 3, 2014


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: