This Friday’s Five is a bit of a break from the legal updates and a focus on running a business. Through my profession of defending employers, I get to see a lot of different businesses and a lot of different types of business owners, CEOs, COOs, and Human Resource directors. There are common characteristics of managers and companies that are successful. Here are five that predominately standout:
1. You are scrappy.
Gary Vaynerchuk, the successful businessman and digital marketer, has been ranting over the last few years that people need to stop complaining. He has reminded people that their success is not dependent on their zip code, but instead on their work ethic:
The thought of people saying, “Well, America is an entrepreneurial paradise,” is the same conversation that’s happening within the US to be great in tech, you need to be in San Francisco, and let me just remind everybody that Facebook was invented in Boston. I myself am from the former Soviet Union.
Let me remind everyone that Microsoft came from very humble beginnings as well. Their first office was located at 6328 Linn Ave. N.E. Albuquerque, New Mexico. The picture above is a recent picture of the building where Microsoft started. This was the office of MITS, Inc., the company that invented the first personal computer, the Altair 8800. Paul Allen and Bill Gates saw the computer on the cover of Popular Electronics and realized that they had to jump at the opportunity and start writing code for the Altair. Allen and Gates did not complain that the company was in Albuquerque and the office was in a bad part of town on top of it – they flew to Albuquerque and just started working (I’m not sure how many entrepreneurs would do this today). Also, don’t think that MITS had the luxurious office where the smoke shop is currently – the company had the three offices in the back of the building. There is a plaque at the site commemorating the office as the start of Microsoft.
I often times think that the new shared work spaces with lunchtime Yoga, juice machines and networking mixers every night of the week may actually have prevented some entrepreneurs from starting the next Microsoft. Working in a strip mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico may not be glamorous, but it is distraction free.
2. You don’t stop working.
As I often say to clients in litigation, we cannot control the actions of the opposing party, we can only control what we do. One of the biggest factors that an entrepreneur, business owner, or HR manager can do to be successful is to keep working. This by no means will guarantee success, but not working hard will necessarily lead to failure. Setbacks and failure are inevitable, the only response is to keep working. This is easy to say, but probably the hardest to execute.
3. You don’t care what others think.
Successful business operators have the ability to disregard what everyone else around them is saying. They disregard the critics who say their task is impossible, or the market that shows them evidence that multiple businesses like theirs have failed in the past. The reality is the entrepreneur/business owner did what everyone else is doing, they would not be successful – they would be like everyone else.
4. Yet, you still listen to feedback.
However, while being able to block the critics, successful entrepreneurs/business owners are not operating in a vacuum. They still value the feedback from a select few people they trust, and use this feedback to change directions if needed.
5. You seek counsel early.
Successful entrepreneurs/business owners also realize what they are not good at, and rely on other expects for this guidance. To be successful you have to focus on your strengths and avoid getting marred down in the issues that you don’t prefer doing, and most likely are not the best at performing. Accountants, lawyers and other professionals bring years of experience to the problem and save a lot of time and resources in the long run.