What makes some entrepreneurs so incredibly successful, while other business owners can't seem to get a business idea off the ground? Like the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, this question is seemingly unanswerable.
However, In an effort to answer that question, Robert Jordan interviewed 45 business innovators for his newest book, "How They Did It." Through his research, Jordan endeavored to ascertain the commonalities among the different business owners he spoke with – each of whom started a company from nothing and either sold it for $100 million or more, or went public for $300 million or more.
According to Jordan, there are certain qualities that all of the business owners he interviewed shared. Here are ten differences that Jordan told the Business Insider separate the super successful from the average business owner:
1. They understand the value of simplicity in ideas
Nearly every entrepreneur that Jordan interviewed made their money on innovative ideas that are ostensibly simple. For example, the founder of Biomet, Dane MIller, started his successful business by initially selling slings for injured arms.
2. They are intellectually curious
While most people overlook every day problems, successful entrepreneurs are constantly searching for ways to improve daily annoyances.
3. They power through obstacles
Every ultra-successful person has faced daunting challenges on the path to success, according to Jordan. Joe Piscopo, owner of Panshophic, had to endure a disgruntled employee who took an electromagnet and destroyed every piece of data sitting on their computers – but he still came back and turned the company around.
4. They are excellent problem solvers
There are always going to be serious setbacks in the beginning stages of a new business and all the entrepreneurs that Jordan interviewed had to overcome seemingly unsolvable problems to get their companies functioning.
5. They take risks
While many people are naturally loath to take risks, entrepreneurs thrive on them, Jordan found. Many of the entrepreneurs he spoke with, including Vince Pettinelli, who founded PeopleServe, quit their jobs to start their own businesses.
6. They have a great attitude
According to Jordan, successful entrepreneurs are much more optimistic than the general population. They are often faced with setbacks, but they fight their way back each time.
7. They monetize mistakes
Successful entrepreneurs often turn their failed projects into money-making operations. Bill Merchantz, creator of Lakeview Technology, utilized a failed product to create his fortune: When his initial software failed, he came up with a new program extemporaneously that proved so valuable he spun it into a new company – one he later sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.
8. They use their downtime to innovate
While many people like to relax when they have downtime, many successful entrepreneurs will use that same leisure time to create a new company or find a new product.
9. They approach ideas with a long-term outlook
It is incredibly rare that a company reaches either profitability or notoriety overnight, and many entrepreneurs know that they are in it for the long-term when they create a company. For example, Groupon, which offers consumers discounts to local stores, was a spin off from a failed company called "The Point," according to its co-founder, Eric Lefkofsky.
10. They know they need others to make their dreams a reality
Even though individual entrepreneurs often garner the most fame, there are many supporting players who contribute to the success of their enterprises. Jordan says that while "Bill Gates is the known quantity as the founder of Microsoft," he wouldn't have reached his position without Steve Ballmer and his other colleagues.