successful entrepreneurs and small business ownersSuccessful entrepreneurs, regardless of where they may find themselves along their journey, have a few key characteristics which are magnetic to others. These individuals attract others to want to join their companies and teams. They radiate success. They emit confidence despite whether they have ‘arrived’ or not. So the inevitable comment I hear most often (to echo that infamous line from “When Harry Met Sally”) is this: “I want what she is having”!

So, the questions are: How do we get there?! How are they doing this? What do they have that I do not? What are they doing that I am not? What are a few things for me to integrate into my life and approach?

There are a few observations of those individuals whom I admire and from whom I have learned, which may shed light.

1. They have an unflappable mindset.

Despite the lack of money, success, or even large companies or teams at a point in their careers, they have no question or doubt that they will ‘get there. I was reared on Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking”….this was a foundational corner stone in our family, long before the ‘Law of Attraction’ became a household phrase. Does it ‘work’? You bet. Net: what we think about – we will create. No question. An article I wrote many years ago, based on James Allen’s book: “As A Man Thinketh” was one of my most read articles. It’s worth a look.

2. Success breeds success.

When we succeed, we will create and attract more success around us. Folks want to be on a winning team – and thus, our attitude, and our approach to life and business, will attract those we need and want on the journey with us. When we succeed, even if it is just baby steps from where we started, folks SEE THAT and they want to be a part of this! They are watching…someone is ALWAYS watching.

3. Relationships matter.

We need mentors, advocates, truth-sayers, team players, leaders, followers… we need folks in the boat with us! I learned in my corporate career that fostering relationships with people who have gone before me – was indispensable to my growth and progression. The same is true when we own our own businesses. We need successful folks around us – to help us grown, learn, jump, stretch, and lead! We do not have to be tied to the hip with them; in fact, some of the most valuable lessons I have learned I learned from afar…watching from the sidelines and learning from them….what works and what doesn’t work. We need folks to tell us when we have made a mistake and be honest with us.

Key point: these need to be folks we trust and not those that may be jealous or trying to hold us back or dampen our confidence. Yes, there are lots of those folks out there……so the key is to get to know folks’ hearts and spirits of intention. And yes, you know what you know when you know it. As Maya Angelou has said: “When folks show you who they are, believe them.”

4. What (and who) we surround ourselves with, is what we will become.

We are, indeed, a compilation of the 5 folks we spend the most time around. Thus, we need to be careful about the ‘company we keep’ (as my momma would say). We need to be careful who influences us. This is how our lives take shape…..we need to be around folks that challenge us, encourage us, teach us, boost us, care for us, and love us…..unconditionally. AND we need to be around folks with qualities we admire and respect. Yes, it does matter.

successful entrepreneurs and small business owners5. Focus, Consistency, and Confidence are the bedrock.

We need to have a vision – a crystal clear vision – on which to focus. We need to have consistency in our work ethic. Just like working out – we will get more bang for the buck by working every single day on the key areas of focus….than cramming it all in one day a week. And we need to BELIEVE in ourselves and our company. How we posture ourselves – in challenging as well as fruitful times – is key. No one will want to follow someone who doubts themselves, who is ‘down in the mouth’ about an issue, or who is questioning ‘whether they can get there’. We need to stand tall and straight. Chin up. Shoulder back. All with a quiet knowingness – that yes…..we WILL get there and we want THEM to join us!

6. Kindness and selflessness trumps everything.

Successful and magnetic leaders are unfailingly polite and respectful…to everyone. They live and breathe the Golden Rule (or the Platinum Rule – aka: Treat others the way you would want to be treated…if you were them.) They don’t play favorites. They turn the other cheek. Yes, that can be hard. I have had more than a few ‘mean girls’ in my career who have been passive aggressive and ugly….even going so low as to block me on social media sites for no reason other than they do not want me to share in their success. Insecurity breeds poor behavior. Yet, the only person really being hurt is that person. Our job is to stand quietly confident, pray for guidance to do the right thing ALWAYS, and always put the other person ahead of yourself.

7. Always put our best foot forward.

My momma and daddy always taught my sister and me to always show up in the best manner possible. This is not about vanity. This is about making an effort to look our best; as this is a sign of respect to the person we are meeting. And, interestingly, once we have put ourselves together, we undoubtedly project an aura of professionalism and confidence.

successful entrepreneurs and small business owners8. Never give up.

This always brings to mind the marvelous speech by Theodore Roosevelt – which I have had in my office since the 1980’s:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Enough said.

Net: Successful folks know their worth…from deep inside their souls. They are not desperate for validation or ongoing approbation. They know who they are….and they are comfortable in their own skins. They work hard. They become self-aware and continually strive to grow and learn. They treat their teams, clients, and constituents with love and respect. They listen. They respond. They are humble and generous with praise. These basic qualities and the few observations listed above are the traits I have learned from those successful leaders in my life….and yes….these translate to building successful small businesses.