There's a misconception that all you need to be successful is a great idea. You often hear: "If only I had thought of Facebook" or "If I had that idea, I would have been successful too." Yet successful startups are not built by incredible ideas, but by the talents of the entrepreneur who can execute.
I am always on the hunt to optimize my own performance as a person, and as an entrepreneur. I want to identify and adopt the traits shared by the elite.
Here are five traits of elite entrepreneurs that you should incorporate into your own life.
1. They think outside the box
One of the fastest growing segments in technology is the Internet of Things. Talented startups (Nest, Dropcam, SkyBell, etc) and massive consumer tech companies (Google, Apple, Samsung, etc) controlled most of the innovation until a certain CEO and company unexpectedly launched a product that changed the entire industry overnight.
In June 2015, Jeff Bezos and Amazon released the Amazon Echo to the public. Equipped with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, the Amazon Echo became arguably the first mass consumer hit in the Smart Home space. Bezos could have easily stuck to Amazon's position as a retailer, or he could've made a smartphone-based Smart Home hub, like everyone else. Instead, Amazon pioneered voice as a user-interface, released an outside-the-box product, and is now the leading brand in Smart Home.
Think about this story when you're faced with the need to redefine yourself or your company. Bezos, like other elite entrepreneurs, aren't afraid to go outside the box.
2. They are always learning
Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah, Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Warren Buffet are all avid readers. Some spend as much as 80% of their time reading books. There's no question that books are a fast, inexpensive and convenient avenue to knowledge.
Other entrepreneurs educate themselves in non-business methods that pay dividends for their business. Michael Dubin, the founder of the Dollar Shave Club, used his study of acting and improv to market his razor subscription service to the masses in a viral way - using humor to garner 25 million views for their YouTube video.
Pursue a broad set of curiosities and always keep learning.
3. They inspire action
Successful entrepreneurs live by their mission and purpose. Their passion spills out into the company culture, the product, and the loyalty of their customers.
The important part of this trait is that their belief is unwavering. They are completely aligned with their truth. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is a great example of this type of inspirational leader.
4. They never give up
Arianna Huffington, one of the most recognizable names in online publications, was once rejected by dozens of publishers. Huffington kept at it, finding a publisher for her book and eventually launching the Huffington Post - one of the most successful news outlets on the web.
The entrepreneurs and leaders who find success are the ones who refuse to quit on their vision. The road to startup success is covered with obstacles. You must be persistent enough to get through all of them.
5. They constantly grow as people
People driven to build amazing things have the same drive to build themselves. The ultra-successful are always finding ways to elevate and evolve.
Oprah lives a life of continual evolution, which she shares with her community. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg both went to India on a journey of self-discovery. These leaders know that they are not finished products, just like their businesses.
Whether it's traveling, adopting a mindfulness practice or reading books that challenge your view of the world, find time to focus on your self-growth. Don't judge this process either. I learned as much about myself, and life, from surfing as I did from reading about quantum physics.
The best leaders share an ability to constantly grow and develop, think independently, inspire their team and endure the hardest parts of pursuing their dreams. Observe the traits of the best performers and you'll start to see how these behaviors lead to their success. Then you can incorporate them into your life.