Are You Actually A Successful Business Owner?

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Observations of a Coach

We’ve been really fortunate to coach lots of successful business owners over the last 8 years.  Some of them weren’t so successful when we met (or that’s what they thought anyways) and others were already doing great. It’s been incredibly interesting to observe, question and support so many great people over time, and it’s given us an opportunity to learn from all of their wins and losses.

Every time we’ve sat down with a client to review a situation and the way they handled it, we’ve learnt something. It’s one of the main reasons I love coaching people. Yes, I have lots of skills that allow me to get the job done – and I learn something with every coaching session I deliver.

What we’ve observed is that successful business owners are not smarter than the rest. They are not more talented than the rest. They don’t have a ‘winning’ product (as if the rest are not winning).

In fact, we’ve compiled a list of things below that the successful business owners we’ve met and coached understand and implement that others don’t. The great thing about this list is that all of these things are learnable. They are not something that these people were born with. They are definitely things that I’ve made a commitment to myself to put into practice. And yes, some days I’m better at it than others.

The fact is, these are all things that successful business owners are constantly working to improve moment by moment. They are abilities and understandings. Awarenesses and observables. You might be great at one of these in one moment, and then in a different situation, you might fall all over yourself.

This isn’t about being perfect (see #5 below), it’s about awareness. Focus on getting good at understanding and implementing these 10 things and you will dramatically improve your success.

They understand that their greatest asset is time

They know that every second counts. They are very aware of where they place their attention, and for how long.

Time is the only truly limited resource you have. And you can’t manipulate it at all. So a successful business owner is very intentional with where they place their attention, and for how long.

They manage events well, and as a result, they get more done. They also prioritise effectively in order to ensure they allocate time for family, exercise, friends, and themselves. They are very aware of where they are spending their time. I’ve written another blog post about time management called The Great Time Management Hoax if you’d like to read it.

They create their own reality

They understand; no, they know that they create their own reality. They take full response-ability for it.  They know that if things are going great, it’s their fault.

They also know that if things are not going well, they created that too. There is no blame.  There are no excuses. They are totally willing to stand up and be counted. And they believe that they can create what they dream of.


They know what’s involved in cooperation, and they make (and keep) a commitment to themselves to intentionally implement all three minimum requirements of Cooperation, and they don’t tolerate anything less from their team (nor anyone in their life for that matter). I’ve written a blog post that goes into detail about what those three things are – check it out here. 


They don’t fall suspect to the belief that ‘if you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself.’  In fact, they actively look for opportunities to delegate.

Often they’ll make a list of the things that they are really interested in continuing to do themselves and then actively delegate everything, not on that list.

They hire people who are better than they are at creating the results of their role and they give them the power to make decisions in that role. They delegate everything.  Read How Do I know I’ve Delegated for a bit more clarity on this.

Clearly Defined Objectives

They use clearly defined objectives to plan their actions. They don’t set goals around buying new cars, or having millions of dollars. They set a target to get something done.

The car or the money is the result of what they have created. Every objective that they set has a clearly defined end action. An end action is the thing that does or doesn’t occur which indicates you have achieved the objective or not.

This means there will be no confusion about whether or not the objective has been met. A simple example is by Friday (insert date) I will have $1,000 in XXX bank account. This is a simple objective with a clear end action. And yes they put dates on things.

They Understand the Laws of Exchange

They know how to create revenue. The way you do that is by not focusing your attention on your income. Instead, focus your attention on the quality and integrity of the delivery of your service or product.

If you go into business to make money, you probably won’t make very much.  If you go into business because you have a great idea that will serve lots of people, you’re applying the Laws of Exchange and they will support you.

There will be a future blog post that goes into detail about the laws of exchange, and I’ll link it here when it’s written.

Building Relationships

They know how important relationships are (yes even online businesses). They have worked, been coached, and invested time, attention, and money to get good at building and maintaining successful relationships.

When they build relationships, they focus on finding the Win/Win. There are still a lot of people who view the world through the win vs lose mindset.

They want to win, and so in order to win, that means someone else loses. If you are in business, and you win, that means your customer is losing. If you are in a partnership, and you win, your partner loses.  That’s not good business.  And it doesn’t build long term trusting relationships.  Here’s a blog post on the secrets to building relationships intentionally. 

Willingness to Confront

This is important. When I say confront, I’m not talking about butting heads or being aggressive. I’m talking about the willingness to confront: reality, detail, behaviour, beliefs, thoughts, emotions and anything else that most people take for granted.

Business owners who do not confront the details of their financial reporting are begging to be ripped off.

People who do not confront their own beliefs systems, and inspect them for usefulness, are being the ball in the pinball machine rather than being the person playing the game.

Successful business owners confront reality head-on, and they make decisions based on their current information. If someone is not producing results, they confront them. If someone is creating problems, they confront them.

Again, confronting does not equal aggressive. Confronting is about facing the truth and dealing with it.

Hiring Profitable Staff

Successful business owners hire great people. They make it their job to select only the best people.

They understand that profitable staff are people who solve problems for them. Too many business owners hire people who create problems, or simply point problems out (which in essence is the same thing, because they are not solving the problem by pointing it out).

This is directly related to delegation, because you can’t delegate to someone if they are not able to solve the problem.

Successful business owners refuse to solve problems for their staff – they get them to solve the problem. This is much easier when you hire competent and capable people with great attitudes to support you.

The Importance of Intention and Action

They understand that intention is a muscle (and so is awareness).

They use that muscle regularly; they develop it the way a bodybuilder develops their bicep. They work on it. And they take the actions that are necessary (and the ones that most others don’t take) in order to achieve.

Sometimes, this means they take no action at all. It’s not true that in order to be successful you have to work hard. If it was true, it would be true in every situation. Successful business owners have a balance between action and planning, and they use intention to bridge the gap.

These 10 things have been consistent in every successful business owner I’ve worked with or observed.

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