Nothing matters more than your beliefs. Belief is action: what you believe ultimately determines what you do (or don't do).
That's why successful entrepreneurs stick to their guns and have a core set of beliefs to guide them through it all, no matter how bumpy or crazy their journey gets.
Here are some tried-and-true beliefs that separate the truly successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack:
1. They believe others will lift them higher.
The ultra-successful don't believe they have to go at it alone--they want to work with someone who has already been down the same road, and know the right mentor can keep them moving forward. In fact, most entrepreneurs credit a mentor as a major reason for their successes.
Richard Branson credits his oddball Uncle Jim for teaching him that when everyone else thinks your idea is crazy, it probably is a sign that you're really onto something. (Uncle Jim's habit of eating grass was widely mocked in the army, until it earned him a role "advising the elite forces how to live off grass and nuts when food was scarce.") Even if you can't find a crazy uncle, you should find mentors to guide you, inspire you, and help you grow in your professional journey.
2. They believe in being the best, not the first.
"Success is often the result of perseverance," said Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot. "When the first person to the game stops trying, stops striving, or starts compromising their principles and values, the person who relentlessly seeks perfection is the person who wins."
If you believe in overnight success, you may as well believe in Santa too. I've seen it time and again: entrepreneurs will scramble to get a sloppy product out as fast as possible, only to be replaced by a disciplined competitor with a better creation. That's why having a great product, company, or team means doing your best and final work constantly instead of sprinting. I always ask my team to do this (and am understanding if they have to push a deadline back), and you should too.
3. They believe they can choose success.
One of Seth Godin's inspiring blogs said, "If you're hoping that the HR people you sent your resume to are about to pick you, it's going to be a long wait."
That might sound a little discouraging, but his point is that you can "realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need." Rather than waiting for a "gatekeeper" to give permission, ultra-successful people put their nose to the grindstone and get it done, even if it involves smashing a glass ceiling or tearing down a wall.
To start, make some concrete goals to achieve anything you're waiting on. Rather than waiting for a promotion, for instance, come up with a new job description and present it to your higher-ups. The results will surprise you.
4. They believe they have enough to get started.
Google's initial server was made of Legos. Dell was started with $1000. Mattel's initial dolls were made of old picture frames.
I could go on and on with more examples, because successful entrepreneurs have the confidence and gung-ho belief that with skills and gumption, they can make do with what they already have.
So, believe in your fantastic self instead of waiting for more; you'll be amazed at what you can do with your limited resources. Scrappiness is always needed to keep a company afloat--whether it's opening day or decades down the line.
5. They believe in change.
I've seen it too many times to count: entrepreneurs fall so in love with their idea or product that they're afraid to make the slightest alteration to it. This is otherwise known as the sunk cost fallacy, and it's something successful people steer clear of.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, once asked the founder of Costco, Jim Sinegal, for advice. Jim said, "You know, I don't want to be rude, but this is exactly the wrong thing to do." Rather than shy away from drastic change, Schultz embraced it. You can thank his willingness to change for a Starbucks on every block.
This doesn't mean you have to surrender every idea right away. But it does mean you have to ask, "Is this the best way to go about it?", and be willing to accept the same question from others.
6. They believe they don't have to please everybody.
The great Tina Fey once said, "Don't waste your energy trying to change opinions... do your thing, and don't care if they like it."
As someone who was called "crazy" for opening my own firm, I wholeheartedly agree. It's impossible to please everybody, especially when it comes to your own success. Almost every success story involved a lot of scathing criticism, so don't let it get to your head. The mantra that helps me through criticism, and one you should instill in your head is, "no is just someone's opinion."
7. They believe in more than money.
Yes, it's true that numbers and profitability are what keep businesses afloat. In fact, I sometimes have to bluntly remind entrepreneurs of that.
But successful people go above and beyond money. As Steve Jobs said, "You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out."
Entrepreneurship never involves a steady paycheck or constant clear skies. That's why you need to find a belief in more than profitability. If you don't have that yet, find some ways to "do well by doing good" and make a positive difference in the world--even if it's something really small.
What beliefs have made you more successful? I want to hear them!