10 habits of successful business people

How to be successful in business

Often, when we talk about habits, we are referring to something negative. I have a nasty habit of biting my nails, for example. But some habits can be quite the opposite and as some respected business figures share, they can often be the makings of their success.

Good business habits often require a lot of effort, particularly at the outset, as they don’t necessarily come naturally or easily to us. But given a bit of time and commitment, they can alter our mindset and become a part of our daily routine.

Here we look at 10 good ways of how to be successful in business that business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates, swear by…

1. Be a trend-setter, and not a follower

If everyone followed the latest trend, the world would be a very boring place. In one of Richard Branson’s most recent blog posts, he warns against jumping on the bandwagon of latest trends. He says chopping and changing your focus at a moment’s notice will mean you forget your original ambition or purpose.

“There is no shortcut to success. Success comes from hard work refining a product or service until it’s the best it can be. While it’s important that we keep our ears and eyes open, and constantly adapt to the world around us, focusing on quick fixes and fleeting fame is not a great business solution.”

Download our free guide on Richard Branson’s top tips for success here

2. Maintain a balanced lifestyle

I had the good fortune to meet Richard Branson in person while I was working as a journalist, and one thing that struck me was his relaxed and down-to-earth attitude. In the years since I have followed his blog and online commentary with interest, for a regular dose of inspiration. One notable observation is the number of references he makes to the time he spends with his family and friends. He is arguably one of the most successful business figures of our time, yet he always makes time for his family, and claims they are a powerful source of inspiration and encouragement in his life.

3. Make regular efforts to seek out inspiration

It’s rare that inspiration falls into your lap. Inspiration can come from many different places, but most of the time you need to get out there and find it. Whether it is visiting a spot of natural beauty, watching an interesting documentary, reading a thought-provoking book or article, having a fascinating conversation with someone, or spending time in a museum or gallery – all of these things could be life changing, if you make the effort, and are open to finding new sources of inspiration.

4. Write lots of lists

I have always been a big believer in writing lists, and particularly for goals and ambitions. When you tick things off as you achieve them, it brings to life what’s possible when you set your mind to something.

Many successful business people have the habit of writing a ‘to do’ list every evening, before they go to bed. Number the actions in order of priority, and write a big number ‘1’ next to the most important thing you need to achieve.  Tackle that first item on your list first thing in the morning when you are fresh. This will help to ensure that you’re not shying away from the big things that need to be done.

5. Get up an hour early

How often do we say, “if only there was an extra hour in the day”? Well there is that sought-after 25th hour, if you choose to get up an hour early. I have two young children who always wake up with the dawn chorus, and it’s amazing what I’ve sometimes achieved before 8am! Waking up early offers you opportunities that few others see or enjoy. It can be a time of calm before the day’s rush begins, and a time to be alone with your thoughts and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

6. Don’t worry, be happy

In the wise words of Bob Marley, make time for moments of happiness.

As Richard Branson explains:“So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too…If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow.”

7. Have a system for organising and retaining information

So often we come across inspiring passages in a book, or read a fascinating article containing heaps of useful information. We bookmark it and have every good intention of coming back to it, but predictably it becomes lost in the information deluge. Successful people have systems for organising and keeping valuable content. If you prefer more traditional, paper methods, read about this great idea for creating a ‘commonplace book’. Or tools such as Evernote or Podio can be good online options.

8. Acquire the habit of accountability

Staying motivated is a challenge for most people. Very often, high achievers and successful people have someone in their lives who holds them accountable for their goals and ambitions, on a weekly basis. This could be a business mentor, a close friend or trusted colleague, or someone who shares some affinity with what you are hoping to achieve. Set up a weekly catch-up call or coffee with them to share your achievements, struggles and new goals.

9. Read. A lot.

According to Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals, 86% of the wealthy love to read, with 88% claiming that they read for self-improvement for 30 minutes or more per day.

Bill Gates reads for an hour every day as part of his bedtime routine, and if you are interested in keeping track of his voracious reading, you can view the books he has recently read and reviewed here. J.K Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, read ‘absolutely anything’ as a child. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban insists on spending three hours every single day reading.

Reading takes time, but successful people read. It can be the biggest source of inspiration, knowledge, and wisdom.

10. Ask questions

A person who asks questions, is someone who is liked. Through the asking of questions, you find out things about people which you would otherwise never know. It shows you are genuinely interested in others and willing to give them the time to be heard, instead of bragging about your own successes.

Do you have something to add to the list? We would love to hear below…

Richard Branson Top Tips for Success

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  • Phil Dyer

    “Don’t worry, be happy” are the wise words of Bobby McFerrin, not Bob Marley…….


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