To become successful entrepreneurs, it’s important to understand and execute the non-negotiables: those high-priority qualities and behaviors that absolutely must get done and done well. Unfortunately, these may seem uncomfortable or unexciting, so many people end up negotiating with them, relegating them to less-important status. However, that is a mistake, because these eight qualities and behaviors are vital to success. I promise that if you execute these consistently, you’ll double your business. You’ll have explosive growth, and isn’t that what we all want?

Eight non-negotiables in becoming successful entrepreneurs

I liken these non-negotiables to the wheels and pistons in a race car. Imagine driving in the Daytona 500 with one flat tire. Could you expect to win dealing with that or the loss of compression you would experience if your engine had a cracked piston? No, it would be impossible to win. Wheels and pistons are non-negotiables when it comes to winning an auto race. The following eight non-negotiables are just as critical to success in business. It would be foolish to consider success missing even one of them.  They are as foundational to your success as the four wheels and pistons of a car.

1. Clarity.

This comes first and foremost. To achieve clarity, answer these three questions:

What do you want? Make your answer quantifiable and set some goals.

When do you want it? You need a timeline for this one. A dream without a date is a fantasy.

Why do you want it? This is the hardest question to answer, because it encompasses who you are. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that this answer is the catalyst that will energize them to overcome obstacles.

The next two items are qualities that you’ll never be able to train in yourself or anyone else, but they are essential for maximum success.

2. Ambition.

You must be able to get yourself up in the morning and get to work. It’s amazing to me that people go into business for themselves and think, “Well, now I’ve got time on my hands. I get to write my own schedule.” But the reality about entrepreneurship is that you get to choose which 20 hours a day you work. Ambition is irreplaceable.

3. Self-discipline.

This involves being able to push yourself to do all those difficult things you’d rather not do, without a coach goading you along. I want to work with those people who have the eye of the tiger and a fire in their belly. (Learn what Brian Tracy says about developing your self-discipline.)

People often ask me, “How do you hire a good sales professional?”

My reply: “You hire ambition and self-discipline: you train skills.”

4. Effective communication.

Successful entrepreneurs are great communicators. Which communication modality will you use? We personally use the DISC model of human behavior, but we’ve taken it to another level of adaptive behavior. (Read more here) This involves being able to consistently adapt to other people so you are getting the best communication possible.

An example from my career…

When I first got into sales, I had about a 3{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be} closing ratio. This was mainly because people didn’t like me: I was a hard-driven, focused, type A person, so people stayed away. Now my closing ratio is at 96{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be}, largely because I can now communicate with all the other behavior styles. I’ve learned how to accommodate those who are slower-paced and people-oriented. I’ve mastered how to talk to those highly analytical, slow-paced engineering types, and I’ve adapted to communicating with people like my wife: fast-paced, people-oriented, and fun! The more I’ve grasped how to become a professional at communication, building our entire business on it, the better results I’ve gotten. 

If you have a whole team of employees who represent your company, communication is just as important. Those who wear your logo represent you, and they can grow or destroy your brand with the spoken word. You can monitor and train them in communication styles, helping them to represent you in the best way possible.

Four key driving elements

These are the pistons that drive the engine of your success, and they can save your business when times are hard. In 2008, we all suffered through an incredible downturn in the economy. In our industry of speaking, training, coaching, and consulting, a lot of great speakers lost their businesses and their income. But in that same year, we were able to more than double our business. When we sat down and analyzed it, asking “what are the things we’re doing consistently?” we came up with four things. These things matched up with Albert E. N. Gray’s book The Common Denominator of Success. (Here’s an excerpt…) He studied top sales professionals, finding common behaviors that they did consistently: daily, weekly, and monthly.

“The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that he or she formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” Albert E. N. Gray

     5. Generating leads.

It’s important to diversify your methods. How many different ways do you generate leads? Look at your business plan and figure out where your leads come from. Here at Pici and Pici, we need ten to fifteen different ways. One is not enough. At the end of every year, we whiteboard our business. We write down every single client that wrote us a check and backtrack it to see where that lead came from. Was it a referral? Networking? Cold call? LinkedIn?

     6. Phone calls for appointments.

Leads without appointments are a waste of time. How good are you and your team at picking up the phone and booking appointments? In this era of email and social media, many people act as if the phone is dead. It’s not! It is a lifeline for your business. We are entrepreneurs – business owners who also sell all our own work. But when we’re not training, speaking, or coaching, we are on the phone. It’s vital to gain mastery over the phone. Set goals for the number of calls you make a week, then track them. Tracking never lies, and it will give you business indicators for growth.

     7. Sales presentations.

I call this a core story. We have constructed for ourselves the best core story outline we’ve ever created, which has greatly increased our closing ratios. This direct sales presentation is 80{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be} about the client and 20{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be} about us. When you want to really evaluate your business and get its pulse, find out how many sales presentations or core stories you do every month. That will never lie. In my office, I have a whiteboard dedicated to only one thing: core stories. Nobody goes on that board unless it was a direct sales presentation, not an indirect get-acquainted meeting at a Chamber of Commerce coffee. I watch that board every day, every week, every month, every year.  Based on the number of names on that board, I can tell you what our income is.

     8. Priority management.

We’ve all read time management books, but do they work?  They are ineffective because we cannot manage time. A very famous football coach once said, “There are three things you can do with time: waste it, spend it, or invest it.” We created a priority management system which rank orders all our business activities according to how much revenue they produce. The highest revenue producing activities are at the top, and that’s where we spend a majority of our time.

Successful entrepreneurs know they must have all eight components to succeed. They’re easy to remember if you imagine building a car. You need four wheels: clarity, ambition, self-discipline, and communication. These foundational components are vital, and if one is missing, the car won’t go anywhere. Within the engine that powers the car, you need four pistons to drive it: lead generation, phone calls for appointments, sales presentations, and priority management. If any of these pistons fails, your business will slump. Master these eight key elements, and watch your business roar its way to success!