Picture of Kimberlie Williams
Written by Kimberlie Williams

People often think they’re either born with the potential to run a business successfully or not, but that’s not the case. If you look at many of the most prominent figures in tech history, you will notice many similarities. They often started from nothing. They believed in themselves, they believed in what the technology they were working on, and they worked tirelessly to achieve their dreams. They also knew what they lacked and what they needed to overcome that.

When it boils down to it, many key traits of successful business are something any of us can do. It’s about time that people started believing that anyone, as long as they are willing to work hard, can start a successful company.

1. They are Authentic 

There are many people who start a business because they think it’ll be successful and they have the skillset for it, but they find that they’re just blending in with other companies doing the exact same thing. Authenticity helps people stand out. Authenticity is fusing together your personal interests and your unique skillset when you create a business.

It’s the gamers who develop the video game they’ve always wanted. It’s the accountant who makes more efficient accounting software through his own trial and error in the profession. It's taking your own personal journey and passions and turning it into a profit.  

Authenticity shouldn't just stop at the creation stage. It should continue into your business model, strategies, and branding. Take the rising trend of video marketing. Authentic business owners think about how to do video marketing in way that comes natural to them, rather than what as accepted as the industry standard. The benefit of this approach is often tapping into a niche market that has been waiting for videos just like these. These type of customers are more likely to remain loyal to your business as they finally feel they have a personalized customer experience.


2. They Have Passion

People want to support businesses that are backed by people who are passionate and excited about the work they’re doing. It creates an infectious atmosphere that inspires everyone to be personally motivated in their success, from their employees to their investors to their customers.

This is particularly useful for people who want to bring something new or game-changing to the industry, like Elon Musk and Facebook's race to bring satellite internet to reach even the most remote parts of the world.

People who are driven by their passions also have a different mentality. They don’t take failures as a sign to give up. They persevere. They dig in and work harder, finding new pathways to success. They have a strong vision behind their work, an end goal, and they are driven to plan it out and get there.

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3. They Plan For The Long Term

Many businesses have a tendency to just focus on their daily operations or short-term goals and scramble to make year-end goals, when that kind of mentality leads to burn out. A company’s short-term goals should be made with the intention of working towards long-term goals. This helps everything fall in line naturally.

Planning short-term goals for the long-term also makes it clearer why you’re not reaching your year-end goal in the first place. Your goals need to follow the SMART mentality. They need to be clear and specific, defined in a measurable way so that progress can be analyzed, attainable with the capabilities and resources of your business, relevant to your stakeholders and the current socio-economic environment, and have a specific deadline in mind. 

Odds are if you are having trouble meeting your year-end goals, your short-term goals are not hitting these marks. Train yourself to take more educated risks with concrete data and research behind them. Weigh what's becoming more of an expense than an asset to your company to help cut costs.


4. They Never Stop Learning

The smartest people in the room are often the people who know what they don’t know. These people know what they’re lacking and make an effort to improve it. Many of these people are self-taught in their skills, taking advantage of any resource they can get their hands on. This open and eager-to-learn mentality shows in their business as well.

These are the people who aren’t dismissive of different opinions, but instead try to understand the reasoning behind their logic. It is because they constantly expose themselves to different ways of thinking, that it ends up benefiting them. These types of people receive inspiration in their own work and are able to come up with more creative solutions. 

In order to stay ahead of the competition, you will also need to stay on top of changes in your industry. Think of new technology entering the market. The people who are constantly learning aren’t just aware that the new technology exists, they’re constantly thinking about whether the technology could be an opportunity for their business or pose a threat to it. This evaluation should extend beyond the current climate, but 10 to 20 years into the future. 

You should also observe any changes in the way your customers are consuming technology in your industry. Think of the cassette tape that was ousted by the CD, and now the CD is being phased out in favor of streaming services. Often the spark of change comes from the younger generation first before trickling down. Observing these trends early is what gives some companies an edge, like Netflix, or may prove to be their downfall.

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5. They Network

It's important to know who you need to get in touch with to get your business to grow. These are the people who will elevate your audience, get you in touch with top talent, invest in your company, and provide you with valuable information to grow your business.

The more you put yourself out there, the more people will want to know about you and your business. Share articles from people you want to network with and join their discussions. Attend their events and conferences. Ask thought-provoking questions. A tip is that some people often research speakers and think of questions to ask in advance.

Ask them more about their own business. People love to talk about themselves and that also makes them interested in yours. Lead with what makes your company more unique and reliable. Also be sure to promote your business in tech communities and through social media. Before you know it, you and your company will have made a name for itself and grabbed some powerful and influential backers.

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