What do top entrepreneurs have in common? Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs across a wide variety of disciplines. While it’s difficult to find a single characteristic uniting them, several traits emerged as habits that any of us can cultivate.
They Rely On A Motivated Team
Anybody can start a business, but it takes a team to turn it into something that lasts. Elon Musk isn't going to get to Mars by himself, and Jeff Bezos didn't grow Amazon into what it is today without the help of thousands of talented professionals.
Last year, I interviewed Mathilde Collin. She's the CEO and cofounder of Front, a San Francisco-based company that offers an inbox for teams. Collin said about the importance of relying on a happy, motivated workforce:
“What people want is meaning, calling, purpose, being fulfilled, and I think companies should live up to these expectations.”
They Work Hard And Take Time Off
In 2019, Elon Musk famously declared it’s impossible to achieve anything great without working harder. He said about his companies Tesla and SpaceX:
“There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week,”
Although entrepreneurs agree with Musk on the value of hard work, many know when to stop. They recognise that time off offers both leaders and teams a chance to recharge, refresh and reflect.
Swedish entrepreneur Johan Attby is CEO of Fishbrain, the company behind a community-based fishing app. He says about the importance of taking time off:
“The right measure is not how many hours you chip in. You need sleep, you need food, you need a healthy relationship if you have a family and friends.”
They Value Pursuits Outside Of Work
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella enjoys poetry. Warren Buffet plays bridge. Michael Dell keeps Arabian horses at his Texas ranch.
The entrepreneurs I interviewed cultivate different practices outside of work, including yoga, strength training, and Brazilian martial arts. Many of them say these practices strengthen their bodies and minds, and that helps them refocus at work.
Michael Yorke, cofounder and CEO of Crop Infrastructure Corp., a cannabis crop investment company, is an avid practitioner of capoeira (a form of Brazilian martial arts).
“My discipline, my persistence, my drive and sort of the formation of my character all comes from [capoeira],” he said.
Headspace, the company behind the popular meditation app of the same name, conducted a study of approximately 1,300 participants in five different police forces. The study found meditation is associated with improved job performance, increased well-being and resilience. These findings aren't unique to Headspace either.
Vishen Lakhiani is the CEO and founder of Mindvalley, a personal development online education company. Like many entrepreneurs, he practices meditation regularly. He says about this practice:
“When you learn meditation, it doesn't just improve your ability at work, and there are numerous studies that show that now. It improves your marriage, it improves your relationship with your kids, it improves your well-being.”
They Focus On What They're Great At
Effective entrepreneurs focus on what they're great at and delegate anything else. Some go as far as calculating their rate per hour and avoid activities below it. This approach helps them get meaningful results. Similarly, they recognise having the skills to develop popular software or start a business differs from the skills of an effective CEO.
Glenn Shoosmith is founder and chief architect of JRNI (formerly known as BookingBug). This company offers a SaaS scheduling platform for enterprises. A few weeks prior to handing over the reins to John Federman as CEO, Shoosmith said:
“I'm a major shareholder of this company, as well as the founder, and I need the best person to be CEO, to always be CEO.”
If self-knowledge is power, then building on your best qualities, like these interviewees, can help you become a more effective entrepreneur.