We all look for an edge in our business building and examining the past behaviors of other successful entrepreneurs is a great way to set your own do's & don'ts. Sure you can read about Mark Cuban or Richard Branson. But, you need to look no farther than the icons in your town. Their story and the decisions they made along the way are great indicators for you. Here are 5 common things every successful entrepreneur does:

  1. They ask lots of questions. Across the board, all great founders realize early on that they cannot be the entire brains of the company. Each one augmented their skills with others who have experience and expertise in manufacturing, marketing, sales, or finance. When you reach out to these people (employees, advisors, other founders)--be curious. Learn from their mistakes.
  2. They partner with people more successful then themselves. There is only so much one person can do to drive a company forward. Want to put your idea/product/company on an accelerated trajectory? Partner with really smart and successful people who will also benefit from your success. The more great people rowing the boat--the faster the boat goes. Even great mountain climbers have Sherpa's and guides.
  3. They commit 100% to one idea/product/company. A few of you are considering pursuing a couple ideas. I know what you are thinking; put a couple shots on goal and one of them is bound to go in. This rarely if ever works for anyone especially a 1st time founder. There are so many decisions to make so why cloud those decisions with multiple ideas. Every successful entrepreneur had laser focus on one idea.
  4. They play the long game. Too many get fooled by the media and think that there are quick successes. Not true. The 1-5 year grind prior to the big success is not as sexy--so we all remember to the end of the story. Great entrepreneurs prepare themselves for the marathon. Are you ready physically, mentally and financially for a multi-year effort?
  5. They don't give up. They muscle through. They understand that there will be many dark days and they prepare for that with alternative plans. Every successful founder has been at a company-ending crossroads. Every one found a new path.

As much as these 5 common traits ring true, there are a number of traits that the successful never do:

  1. They never assume anything. Part of asking questions and being curious is to chart a clear direction for the company based on observations.
  2. They never worry about competitors. Competitors are slow, dumb and weak so why follow them? The best carve their vision matched by a healthy dose of nimble customer insight not reacting to what their competitors are doing.
  3. They never let negative employees stick around. Bad apples have a larger effect than any of us could ever imagine. Some of the smartest and most talented people create negative energy. Every minute spent fixing their behavior (and the ramifications throughout the company) is a minute not spent on powering the business forward.

Are you motivated to find hidden traits that successful entrepreneurs possess? Be curious and identify a few. Then reach out and ask them about their journey. You might be surprised what you can learn from them.

Published on: May 5, 2016