I loved Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It remains one of the most well-read books on business success tips out there for a good reason. The writing could have been better, but if you patiently go through the rather tedious introduction on the paradigm shift (and not shift to other books, as I did, though I still finished it, didn’t I!), the message is gold, especially for new entrepreneurs.
I wanted to be highly effective. Who doesn’t? High effectiveness is the root and foundation of business success. You conceive an idea or a plan, and you fulfill it, and produce results you wanted and meant to accomplish.
I give you a short recap of Covey’s book PLUS my own 7 highly effective habits of successful entrepreneurs, observed with the help of my wife and family (and through stalking information and smart people around the web).
Covey’s 7 habits were divided into self-mastery and interdependence:
- Proactivity, as opposed to passivity. You act rather than react. You cause things to happen, you begin, you kick down the door instead of timidly knocking and waiting outside to see what comes out.
- Begin with the end in mind. In this habit, new entrepreneur success is much like writing a novel. My wife and I are voracious readers, and of course we’ve always been interested in writing our own stories. Every successful novelist advices that you don’t have to plot every tiny thing, but you do have to know what happens in the end. You arch (or bend or spin or whip) the story toward that end. Otherwise, you’re just meandering along with no purpose and no target. Same with your enterprise! Have a vision. Steer toward it.
- Put First Things First. Prioritize. Plan. In Habit #2, you created the goal in mind. In this Habit #3, you create it physically.
Interdependence (business relationships):
- Think Win-Win: For me, the best take-away from Covey’s book is his abundance mentality. Many new entrepreneurs, especially senior entrepreneurs, have second thoughts about going into business just at the thought of the cut-throat competition, always having to be one step ahead, on top, or at least head to head. This is the scarcity mindset, where we think we lose if the other party wins.
But no. There’s plenty of success to go around! Having a win-win philosophy with your peers and employees improves relationships all around and creates a positive environment for everyone to work in. Business success follows happiness.
- Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood. Empathy and charisma. Genuinely listening. You give it first and you receive it. It creates loyalty among your peers and employees. Problems are solved faster (or fewer come up in the first place!).
- Synergize. Teamwork. Habit #4 and #5 makes it smooth to collaborate and achieve results you couldn’t have done alone.
Habit #7: Sharpening the Saw
To accomplish all 6 habits above, you need physical, mental and spiritual health. Hard to be a creative, collaborative listener when your knee is killing you, eh?
So Covey sums it up that you need to constantly take care of your body, mind and spirit through physical and mental exercise, meditation, and service to society. A holistic health to make YOU happy, and therefore (on your way to becoming) a successful entrepreneur.
My own 7 Highly Effective Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs:
Do what makes you happy. Many senior and new entrepreneurs are taking this second chance to do what they love. Seniorpreneur’s blog and social media are full of stories of accountants who opened pet grooming services or a little bakery, CEOs who now made personal brands as travel biker bloggers, lawyers who become full-time novelists.Entrepreneurship is not buying into trends, unless you like riding the wave of supplying demand while it lasts, of course. What do YOU want to do? Business success depends on passion, spark and curiosity. Every time I read interviews of business giants and influencers, I can sense their joy in their fields. They love it.
Do what you’re good at. Seems needless to expand this. What are you good at? It just might be your ticket to business success. Tips on improving and monetizing every niche are already out online. Candle-making? Baking? Beekeeping? Carpentry and woodworking? The list is endless. What are those special skills you hadn’t otherwise mentioned in your reams of CVs? Boost them and use them!
Heed your gut. The above two habits have backup and support from your gut. When faced with forks in the road, ask yourself what will make you happy, what you’re confident about, and what your gut tells you. We all have that tiny voice inside our heads. Instinct and hunches.
Ask for feedback. Habits #1, 2, 3 are then sharpened and tested with criticism and “creative dissent,” which is what they call it at Pixar. Every story, every character gets critiqued until it’s just right. For me, it’s my wife, Jan, the first to wrinkle her nose at my ideas, or to nod her head when we’re brainstorming and coming to something nicer, smarter and better.Consult somebody. Get advice. Welcome criticism. It could save you money and tears! You don’t have to go at it alone. Entrepreneur groups like Seniorpreneurs are communities dedicated for business success through support exactly like this habit#4.
Be bold. Could have made this Habit #1. Entrepreneurship requires a constant boldness. Take risks–habits #1, 2, 3 and 4 will make those risks inspired and calculated.Sometimes this bold move could be as “simple” as relocating from London to Laramie, and yet your passion is refired by starting somewhere new.
Take hurdles as they come and jump over. For this one, Jan is fond of Oprah and J.K. Rowling. One was demoted from TV and one was rejected by so many publishers. If these two women gave up, our world would be vastly different. Business success is not instant–it’s a constant goal interspersed with setbacks and adversity. Make it a habit to be an optimist but to expect the rain as much as the sun. You move on and forward.
Take a hike. Literally. Get up. Walk. Lie down. Go away. Leave it all behind, even for only half an hour. This habit of turning yourself off is amazing: it’s part of the 7th Habit from Covey, an opposite of proactivity and creating, solving, listening. You simply let yourself breathe and be quiet. In that quiet, you receive ideas–like Einstein did. His theory of relativity came to him while he was riding his bike!
Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.
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