09.17.18

Five Habits of Highly Effective Business Builders

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NIIC

You likely have heard about Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits”…but I’d like to offer my own version, the business builder edition.

First, I have a confession to make. Given how watered down the word entrepreneur has become and some of its stereotypical variants (intrapreneur, solo-preneur, sole proprietor, business owner), Going forward, I will alter the language and speak about business builders. This more inclusive and expansive word choice allows us to consider a broader cadre of entrepreneurial doers from government, education, non-profits and the business world. Simply put, Business Builders do great things.

Here are 5 habits I believe the most effective business builders embrace:

Seeing around Corners

Not everyone has what it takes to dream big. In fact, some are more comfortable in staying in their lane. I find that business builders tend to have the biggest imaginations, and they use them to their advantage. The most effective ones aren’t afraid to ask “what if?”, and do what they can to explore and achieve outcomes. They are rarely static and aren’t afraid to push boundaries. They focus on satisfying the enthusiasts and visionaries (early adopters) on Moore’s curve. They are adaptive, reflective, self-aware, contingent thinkers adjusting real-time to environmental factors and conditions. They face reality and are not diluted or distracted by outside noise and hype. They are often contrarians and out of step with the mainstream sentiment.

Rhythm & Speed

Even when schedules can be erratic, the most high-powered entrepreneurs carve out time for self-care—exercise, meditation, social well-being, proper nutrition, etc. They make quality and consistent sleep a priority to stay happy and healthy. Similarly, they are often early risers because they know that an early start means they can put their energy and efforts to productive use. They are disciplined, intentional and driven in what they do each day.

Intentional Focus

Successful entrepreneurs know that boundaries are healthy and necessary. They worry less about pleasing others and more about moving in the direction of their dreams and aspirations. Their self-imposed limits are how they stay focused on the prize. They may give back by sitting on boards or committees, but they do so with great intentionality and discretion. They look at their personal ROI, batting average and keep score. They are deliberate on how they invest their time and know the difference between activity and results.

Intellectual Curiosity

An empty tank is the kiss of death in the business of innovation and entrepreneurship. Because they remain insatiable, it is hard for the most effective entrepreneurs to feel depleted regarding new ideas. In fact, they usually have a running list of possible concepts to explore. While some people tend to stop working when they run out of creative juices, highly productive business builders always have methods or techniques in place to keep going (think Energizer Bunny) because they know their first idea is seldom their best idea.

Community-building

Behind every successful business builder is a tribe of people encouraging and supporting them. Not everyone is qualified to give advice. Be strategic and intentional in whom you confide in and lean on for support. Moreover, some people won’t “get” what it means to blaze your own trail—and that’s OK. You have to be mindful of who you let in. They purposefully surround themselves with positive, connected, energetic people who make them better, “plus them up” (in Disney speak) and challenge them to be better. Business Builders are civic leaders, philanthropists, mentors and angel investors in the larger community.

Business Builders, which of these do you struggle with and which one(s) have you honed?

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