Inc. staffers recently released the results of a survey in which they asked CEO's of the nation's fastest growing private companies to select three qualities that led them to success. No surprise, the study revealed determination as being the most popular character trait identified by the CEO's, with risk-taking and vision being the second and third choice. You can see the complete results of the survey here.

Determination, grit, the perseverance that makes an entrepreneur stop at nothing to achieve their goals and dreams--all common qualities in successful entrepreneurs. However, a study performed at Edinburgh University found that much of our predisposition toward determination, sociability, self-control, and sense of purpose is in our genes. It shows that our upbringing does not play as much of a roll in these influencing traits as our DNA does. Basically, the grit that Inc.'s survey identified as the leading trait in successful CEO's comes more naturally to some than others.

You can achieve success anyway.

Don't despair; those who are not born with a persistent personality can certainly still achieve success. Vision was the quality that fell into a high third place with 47% of the CEO's claiming vision as one of the traits that led them to success. When your vision and the passion associated with a powerful vision are in place, your odds of success are strong. I've witnessed many entrepreneurs who may not be described as having the highest levels of self-control, kick into full gear when they finally realize their vision and purpose. A properly planned vision will keep you on track, focused on what really matters, and help you make the right decisions.

Even if you are years into your business and don't have a clear vision with well-aligned goals, stop what you're doing and work on it now. I'm happy to help since it's not something that comes easily to everyone.

Begin with a three-year vision.

Be specific. In three years from now, who will you be as an entrepreneur? What aspects of your business will be most noteworthy? Most importantly, why is it imperative that you achieve success?

Remember, your vision doesn't have to be grounded in today's reality, it reflects your future goals. Reach far, but not so far as to be unrealistic. Here's a fun question I suggest my clients ask themselves to keep things in perspective:

If I had a realistic magic wand, what would I change/do? It's a fun way to be imaginative, yet remain real.

Ask these questions to form your vision.

Here are some other questions to get you started; make sure that your answers strike a chord of passion and determination.

  • What product lines or services will we offer?
  • What problem does my product/service solve and why is it important?
  • To whom does it matter?
  • What are the changes I believe my business can affect?
  • What are the core values that I will build upon to create the company culture?
  • How big will my business be in three years? Revenues: Employees: Clients/Customers:
  • What role will I play in the business in three years from now?
  • What makes the business unique?
  • What do my customers, suppliers, employees, and industry experts say about the business?
  • What are the most important qualities I will look for in my future employees and/or partners?
  • Are we involved in a local or global community?
  • Will some or all of our marketing be cause-driven?

Don't expect to create your vision in a day. After all, it's something that will have an impact on the rest of your life.