Subscribe to Inc. magazine
INC. 5000

What the Most Successful People Have in Common

At the second day of the Inc. 5000 Conference, Lewis Schiff revealed the findings of a study on wealth and success.

Lewis Schiff, author and executive director of the Inc. Business Owners Council, took the stage at the Inc. 5000 Conference to talk about his research on the business strategies of self-made founders and owners from around the country. During his talk, Schiff revealed the findings of a survey of 800 decision-makers that formed the basis for his book Business Briliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self Made Business Icons.

The survey divided respondents into four groups: middle class (those with a net worth of less than $1 million), middle class millionaires (those with net worths between $1 and $10 million), high-net-worth individuals (with between $10 and $30 million), and ultra high-net-worth individuals (with more than $30 million). Most Inc. 5000 company owners fall in the "middle class millionaire" group, Schiff said. Based on his findings, Schiff identified key traits shared by the wealthiest people. Here are three of them.

They move beyond the details.

The most successful people in Schiff's study had moved beyond delivering their company's product or service. "If you're still involved in the practice of actually delivering your product," he said, "you will have a big problem scaling your company." Middle class millionaires seem to have gotten this message: 65 percent of respondents in this group reported that their primary source of wealth comes from business equity.

They know people who know people. 

How do the wealthiest people network? By knowing people who know people. Sixty-five percent of middle class millionaires responded that knowing the right people mattered, compared to 96 percent of  ultra-high-net-worth respondents. This shows that targeted networking only becomes more important as you scale, Schiff said. "Knowing five people who know five people goes a lot further than 5,000 Linkedin friends," Schiff said, adding that the most successful business owners believe that networking outside your comfort zone is important. "There are people you don't know you need," Schiff said. 

They stay ultra-focused.

On average, middle class survey respondents reported having six skills. The high-net-worth group, on the other hand, reported having only two skills. That's because the most successful people are aware of their limitations and strengths, and focus on what they're best at, Schiff said. In fact, 58 percent of middle class millionaires said they work to improve on skills they lack, but only 7 percent of high-net -worth individuals do the same. The wealthiest respondents? Not one of them said they worked on improving areas of weakness.


Last updated: Oct 12, 2013

NICOLE CARTER | Staff Writer | San Francisco Bureau Chief

Nicole Carter is Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief. She was previously an editor at New York Daily News, and her work has also appeared in Consumer Reports magazine.

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

Or sign up using: