Working on your Business, not in it | 7 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Working on your Business, not in it | 7 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Why re-invent the wheel? Learn the habits and behaviours that successful female entrepreneurs develop to grow thriving, sustainable businesses.

Working on your business rather than in it basically means being strategic and maintaining a top-down management level view. No matter what stage you’re at, start-up or fully established and enjoying year on year growth, maintaining this top-down approach is essential. Doing so can exponentially improve your productivity and time management, increase your visibility, drive sales, and lead to better profitability.

Below are seven habits that will help you maintain this approach and achieve better results in your business:

1. Question things more and ask better questions while you’re at it – The Godfather, Part I, of course, is one of my favourite movies and Michael Corleone without question the best thing about it. Why? He did two things very well. He questioned everything – every motive, every suggestion, every action. Secondly, he asked powerful open questions to better understand every situation.

It’s important in business not to take things at face value and to seek quality data and information that allows for better decision making, more decisive action, and best of all, confidence and trust in the decisions made. Knowing that you should assess situations from all angles is the first step. Asking the right questions is the next.

What is a powerful, open question? It’s one that doesn’t elicit a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response but requires thought and encourages conversation and an exchange of useful information. 

When applied in a business context, an ability to ask powerful, open questions can be the difference between successfully landing that contract or promotion, and not. It can be the difference between clarity or ambiguity, solutions or staying stuck.

2. Self-Management – Being in control of yourself – your emotions, impulses, and abilities, is an important habit for every businesswoman to master. We are referred to as the fairer sex and thus are thought to be more “emotional” about how we go about things.

I’ve read reports where male line managers stated that the reason they didn’t give more comprehensive feedback to female staff members (which would have impacted their personal development and in turn possibly led to their promotion) was that they were afraid the women would cry! 

Emotions provide a rich source of information for those that know how to use them. They are the female entrepreneurs super power – if properly managed. Good self-management is born of a deep self-awareness. Understanding your strengths, limitations, biases, triggers, motivators, etc. helps you understand the areas which do not support your success in your business and personal goals. You can then put structures in place to help minimise their impact. 

3. Stretch – Challenging yourself to be in a constant state of learning is an important habit that successful entrepreneurs adopt. Being willing to go outside your comfort zones in your entrepreneurial pursuits can mean the difference between success and failure.

This point links with point one above. By questioning the status quo, you get fresh perspectives, discover better ways to deliver your services and products, manage your teams, run your business, etc. A willingness to then test these new processes and tactics could lead to big wins.

4. Single-Mindedness – Multi-tasking is a lie designed to keep you stuck. If you want more of something, then you should be focused on learning all you can about it, getting better at it, and pushing forward until you get it. The important word here is focus.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have many things going on at the same time. This is unrealistic. However, getting things done requires you pay undivided attention to one task at a time.

Quite a few of my clients have challenges with poor time management and productivity when they first hire me. When we get to the root of things, it usually comes down to a lack of focus on what really matters and being busy with what doesn’t.

5. Progress, not Perfection – This point should probably have been the first point in this post – it can be that much of a challenge for a lot of female entrepreneurs. Its position as point 5 is intentional because I hope that having gone through the last 4 points you will see for yourself that your actions and your focus are more valuable in the long term than things being “perfect”.

Perfection is a myth. The perfect job / man / child / business / opportunity does not exist. Striving for perfection leads to disappointment, disillusionment, and a feeling of inadequacy.

What you should aim for is progress. Progress is defined as a forward movement towards an improved or more advanced condition. I think this definition is apt when discussing business growth. Say for instance a business owner decides they want to see a marginal increase in sales of 5% a month, an achievable goal. This would lead to an annual increase of 60%, which would make a significant impact on the business. By choosing progress over perfection you achieve results. 

6. Stop at Yes – When faced with a challenge, female vocabulary more likely involves the words “yes, but….”.

When asked to deliver a solution, some professional women will caveat their ability to deliver with all the limitations they perceive.

I know many men who have been asked to lead a project or deliver a product, have no idea how to do it, but accept the challenge and find a solution after they say “yes, I can!”.

Be solution-oriented. This is an important mindset to develop for female entrepreneurs and professionals who want to be perceived as leaders. The most effective leaders are those who dwell on solutions rather than problems. Practise removing the word ‘but’ from your language when you are challenged to go to the next level. Stop at Yes.

7. Serve – Finally, to be in service to others requires a benefit mindset, which is when you not only seek to maximise your potential but that of others and society. Adopting this mindset can provoke innovative and creative thought that can uniquely differentiate your business from others.

We talk a lot about serving. It’s become another sales and marketing ploy. One that works!

What habits help your personal development, achieve better results and improve your effectiveness? We’d love to hear from you! Share your comments below.

Uzo Ijewere is a Business and Mindset Coach. She works with and supports female entrepreneurs to align their vision with a strategy to achieve intentional, and intelligent, results.

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