At Business Changing, we work with clients of all types – from start-ups and those in growth phase to some very, very successful ones. I have been thinking about our most successful clients and have noticed they all share certain personal traits – 16 of them, in fact.
Interestingly, while not all these traits can be learnt, most of them can become habits and learned behaviour if you don’t have them naturally…
1.They are nice people. Being a nice person gets you so far ahead – people want to work hard for someone they like and respect. Nice does not mean a walk-over – these people still make super challenging decisions in their business. As an employee, who would you rather work for – someone nice or horrible? And personally, would you rather be known as a nice person or the opposite?
2. They invest in themselves. They learn new stuff, usually around how to be even better at business or as a leader. They also ponder how to be a better human being. Do you put enough time into learning the right stuff that will make a difference to you and your business?
3. They have accountability – usually to somebody else. Being accountable and doing what you said you’d do makes the difference between someone who is good and someone who is great. Our best clients share their goals and focuses with someone they trust, be it their team or board or business coach. The mere act of sharing this information ups the odds of achieving it.
4. They are organised. Being organised means you can create the time and headspace you need to do the things you need to do – no more Last-Minute Larry, responding ad hoc to the “noisiest” tasks or issues. My best clients are super organised.
5. They know their priorities. I espouse this a lot – there is no greater secret to being successful in business than doing the right things in the right order. This is not rocket science but the vast majority of us are average (at best) in doing the right things in the right order.
6. They spend a good amount of time thinking on the business. When you do this, beyond seeing opportunities and threats and doing something proactively about them, you are acutely aware of what your priorities are, so you know what to work on to impact your business… How could you find another 2-4 hours a week to spend thinking on your business?
7. They create a good culture. In return, customer experience is likely to be well on the right side of the ledger because great customer experience stems from having engaged employees. Our most successful clients ensure the business core values are alive and well and their team is happy.
8. They speak to customers, a lot. Don Braid of Mainfreight is not my client, but more like a mentor. When he told me he spends 35% of his week on the coalface with customers, it struck a chord: the more time you spend with customers the better. You’ll not only learn how they see your business but, even more importantly, you’ll learn what they are thinking and what they will need in the future.
9. They are great at challenging status quo. Most businesses and people just ride along in 2nd or 3rd gear. Imagine if you could get to 5th gear consistently and even better, hit 6th or 7th. You do this when you know that continuous improvement is the oxygen of business and as a leader. What gear do you get to? What gear does your business operate in?
10.They know they cannot do it alone but that it takes a team. Most importantly, they invest in people that can take your business and your own performance to the next level – sometimes even before they can quite afford to. Imagine the impact on your business if you had 2 or 3 more people who were at the next level to what you have now? Surely a guaranteed ROI assuming the additions are cultural fits…
11. All their team are cultural fits. Any non-fits are worked through the system and usually leave on their own accord. It’s not just a matter of those who can do the job, but those who can add to creating a happy and engaged workplace. This all starts from a solid recruitment process. How many cultural non-fits do you have in your business right now?
12. They are risk-takers. Not to the extent of gambling the family house risk but they know that to move ahead and to develop opportunities that will be the future of the business, there is an element of ‘managed risk’. Are you too conservative? Don’t be – the old adage you have to spend a dollar to make a few dollars is so true.
13. Speaking of taking risk, they have systems in place that help them mitigate the impact of bad stuff. Business is never 100% rosy but when something less than ideal happens, it is not a total surprise for these businesses – they’re ahead of the eight ball in how they react so the impact is mitigated. They already have well considered plans in place to offset negative events could happen – do you?
14. They free up their time. They delegate. They trust. They know their time is worth so much money and time is their # 1 scarce resource so they need to do what truly matters. I notice our most successful clients spend 5% of their time doing fun stuff that they enjoy and 95% doing only things that they can do – things like leading, mentoring, learning, developing, being proactive, managing risks, thinking, growing, relating… They only work on what they are great at and delegate the rest. That starts with a sense of knowing what you love doing and are great at. Are you considered about what you spend your time on?
15. They have really big goals. Not quite impossible goals but seriously stretched… Our successful clients know they can impact the world with their business – and their team is excited by this. Are your goals big enough?
16. Last but not least, they have a life beyond their business. Family, friends, holidays, community, health and wellness. Do you?
There will be plenty of business people who exhibit the complete opposite of some of these traits and are still successful. The amazing thing is I can only imagine how successful these ‘opposites’ would be if they exhibited some or all of the traits that our super successful clients exude…