We’ve all heard of the overnight success story. The story of how one company or individual came up with a great business idea and overnight became rich and famous. Truth be told, in most instances, a company or entrepreneur had ten years of hard work and crushed dreams that were endured before success was achieved. Becoming an “overnight success in business” in truth takes many years of steady work.
Business isn’t easy. It is almost insane what entrepreneurs put themselves through to reach success. The truly great ones are generally obsessed with their business. If they aren’t they will be beaten by someone who is.
Steve Jobs once said that to be successful you must truly love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, you are going to quit as most sane people do. Jobs is 100 percent correct. I’ve been referred to as an insane, obsessive, fanatical asshole several times, on many different occasions, but I take it as a compliment.
In order to achieve the goals I set for myself, and continue down the path of success I may need to be a bit insane, obsessive, and fanatic about things being done correctly. I don’t intend to be an asshole but it doesn’t scare me to be called one. I have been working on a project or towards a goal for the majority of my life and refuse to let any person or event stand in the way of achieving those goals. And that is the exact attitude you need in order to be successful.
Though there are many traits that can contribute to success in business I believe if you possess the following five traits you are going to make it, sooner or later. They are Courage, Impatience, Patience, Tenacity, and Emotional Control.
Your journey to success in business begins and ends with courage. If the fear of failure is going to keep you up at night and freeze you from making important decisions you will never make it in business. If you are afraid to spend money to make money your growth will be capped and you’ll never obtain maximum success. Courage does not mean that you operate with reckless abandon. However, if you know that something is correct based on data, or even a very strong gut feeling, you need to move forward quickly; Don’t hold back, plagued with worry. If you are unable to act because of fear you will never make it in business.
“Your journey to success begins and ends with courage.”
Maintaining courage in your business for an indefinite period of time is paramount to long-term success in business. Why do you think so many young entrepreneurs make it big? Because they have nothing to lose. It is important that the courage you summoned when you were new in business remains with you throughout your life.
A very common occurrence seen in business is that a brave and cutting-edge organization achieves some level of success and then begins to lose courage. Instead of trying to grow their business and innovate, they begin trying to maintain for fear of losing what they have already achieved.
How many times in sports have you witnessed a team develop a large lead in the first half, get complacent, and then wind up losing the game? The best way to protect what you have is to go after more, not settle for keeping what you currently have.
“The best way to protect what you have is to try to get more, not settle for keeping what you currently have.”
You often times must invest in equipment and people before you have the money to pay for it. I own and operate two businesses, a junk removal business, and a consulting/technology business. Operating the junk removal business caused us to become busy with the current number of trucks we had available and created a need for us to buy more trucks to keep up with the work. We wouldn’t have the demand to keep that truck busy but by buying it we found a way to start to fill up that route.
With our consulting and technology business, we hire people before we have the money and demand to pay them. Our strategy for that business is literally to hire an asset who is going to lead to better results and more sales, and then go out and hire someone else to help increase our results again. We will continue with this same strategy until no matter how hard we try we can’t outspend the money we bring in on beneficial people and resources. The goal is to keep forcing money back into our business until it starts spilling over.
Growing our junk removal business was similar as well. The main courage and investment it took were gaining new customers. Junk removal is a fairly competitive industry where it is difficult to get ahead. There isn’t much you can do that makes you stand out from your competition. Junk removal also isn’t something that you are generally going to have raving fans about and normally isn’t something people use all the time.
The key to success in the junk removal business is advertising. We approached our advertising how we approach hiring for our tech business. We kept feeding our advertising “budget” until it started spitting money back out at us. At times we had an advertising budget of close to 30 percent of sales. Eventually, as our sales rose to millions of dollars per year, no matter how hard we tried to spend money on advertising, we could never get the budget above 15 percent. It was coming back at us harder than we could send it in.
You can see the levels we have taken our courage too. Can you reach that level of courage and keep it? If not you won’t obtain maximum success in business.
“Eventually as our sales get into the millions of dollars a year no matter how hard we tried to spend we could never get that budget above 15 percent. It was coming back at us harder than we could send it in.”
We’ve all heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue”. That saying is correct but patience is secondary to impatience. The first thing you should be impatient about is reaching a decision. Even if you decide to put off a decision to a later date until you have more data or until you see how things have developed, you have still made a decision. Don’t have a decision drag out and distract your thoughts and your peoples’ thoughts for days and months on end. Gather the data, analyze it, see what your gut says, and make a decision.
Once a decision has been made you should then be impatient to get the process started. Don’t let it sit. A decision that is made but is not acted on will begin to spoil. There always should be movement, and quick movement at that, to acting on a decision.
“A decision that is made but is not acted on will begin to spoil.”
Patience is the third important trait. This seems like a complete contradiction from item number two which was impatience. But the fact of the matter is that they are both beneficial under the correct circumstances. You should be patient for the final result but impatient for the tasks that need to be completed to achieve the final result.
Though I am a firm believer that many decisions made by your gut are indeed correct you don’t want to go about the process by shooting from the hip. Once a decision has been made a plan should be carefully devised and put into place to reach the goal. A clearly defined process with weekly progress checks will help you clearly see the progression and keep you focused on the goal. Changes to the process should be made only after careful consideration.
In business, you are going to encounter push back. You are going to have things that don’t go according to plan. You will have key employees who quit, you might get sued, customers will probably be harder and more expensive to obtain than you imagined. There will be countless other things in and out of your control that may happen. Only with patience for the final result will you be able to have the staying power to see through those obstacles and reach the finish line. Be patient for the final result but impatient on carrying out the tasks necessary to reach the final result.
“Be patient on getting to the final result but impatient on carrying out the tasks necessary to reach the final result.”
Tenacity is personality trait number four on the list. The word “tenacious” has a unique meaning for me. It goes back to my fourth-grade teacher. I was constantly into stuff in elementary school and was very much the class clown. However, much like now, I would keep pressing and telling jokes to the point it distracted greatly from the class. My teacher told me I never gave up. That I was “tenacious”. She then explained to me what that meant. According to her, I was funny and that she loved my personality but that I needed to tone it down. She said anytime I was crossing over the line she’d use the keyword “tenacious” to tell me I better stop or I was going get sent to the principal’s office. It worked. And ever since then “tenacious” has been one of my favorite words.
This is a trait that many people simply don’t have. It is invaluable in achieving your dreams both in business and life. Life is difficult in a lot of different ways. Working to achieve one’s dreams comes with a lot of disappointment. But the outlook you have on those disappointments and setbacks will determine if you ultimately push through, or give up. Though it is very cliche, I firmly have the outlook that with every setback I’m one step closer to achieving the final goal. That anything that is thrown my way I will find a way to overcome and ultimately reach my target.
Business isn’t easy. You have competitors trying to crush you every day, and politicians vying to change the rules on how you conduct business. In addition, the people you hire have the potential to let you down at any moment, customers may have unreasonable expectations or the economy could fail through no fault of your own. You will need that same determination to reach success in your business and life.
Emotional control is the final trait. Level-headedness can easily be learned especially if one has tenacity. If you possess tenacity, have failed and bounced back many times you can learn to be level-headed. It is also important to learn that no matter how good things are, they can quickly change. Or vice versa.
I’ve found that one of the most common mistakes a new junk removal business owner makes is to not have emotional control. As a new business owner, they may have a few good weeks and think that will be the result of each week. They might quit pushing hard for new business, buy a new truck, or something else they don’t really need yet. Then the business slows down and they have placed themselves in a tough position because they’ve spent too much money on unnecessary things and committed themselves to payments that hamper their cash flow.
A slowdown is dangerous for a new business. Once you’ve received that initial business it is easy to think things are going to keep going that way. When things slow down it can really kill your spirits. If you’ve gone out and bought things you really don’t need, items that cost money without bringing you in money, a slowdown could possibly put you out of business.
One of the main problems with a lack of emotional control is that you will make irrational decisions. When business is slow you might change or cut back on the advertising. You make an irrational decision because you can’t control your emotions. Possibly the advertising isn’t working, the website isn’t working. The business isn’t working, etc. You either try and change a lot of things or you quit altogether. You ignore the fact that the advertising, the website, and the business were working wonderfully right before the slowdown.
Business decisions should be made with great caution during a slow period. You often will want to change everything just hoping that it causes the business to pick up. Often times you will make things worse by doing this. Or you might improve one thing but make something else worse which negates the good thing you did.
I used to race NASCAR style racecars. One of the things you never wanted to do was make multiple changes to the suspension at the same time. You wanted to try one change and to see how it affected the car. If you made two changes, you might have made one change that helped the car, and another one that hurt it.
Don’t do that in business. Always be working during a slow period to get more business and ensure everything is working as it should, without making wholesale changes.
It takes a special person to become a business success. Just look at the percentage of businesses that fail. It will astound you. Many of the people that failed in their business likely were missing one or more of these personality traits. Business isn’t for the weak, it is a tough game that must be worked on constantly to achieve success.
Do you have what it takes to make it? If you have courage, impatience on tasks, patience on results, tenacity to see through the disappointments, and the ability to have a level head you will become successful, sooner or later.
Lee Godbold is the co-founder of Junk Doctors, a $2 Million a year junk removal business in North Carolina, and Junk Removal Authority, the junk removal industry’s premiere provider of information and support.