2016 In Review: Top Tips from the Best Entrepreneurs in the Business

Over the past year, I've compiled more than 150 business-building insights and actionable strategies from some of the top entrepreneurs in their respective fields--including social media market mavens, consultants to some of the world's most affluent families, and even a Hindu priest turned entrepreneur.

Here are five of the top tips that have come my way--ones that I, and other top entrepreneurs like me, are now using every day to leapfrog the competition and build winning, world-class companies.

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1. Focus on where you generate the most value. We've got to decide what our highest and best ability is, and devote ourselves to it. For many of us, that means being the rainmaker who brings in new business and makes important new connections--not the person who deals with the daily operations and minutia. Each year, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I focused where I should be given what I want to accomplish most? Such moments can lead to inflection points in your businesses.

2. Build a great "front row" of raving fans--and become one yourself. You want great people surrounding you in all aspects of your life. These will be the people who make up your "front row"-- your biggest, most raving fans who will support you in all you do. To build that roster, start by listing the most important people and relationships in each major category of your life -- including health, business, social, religious and so on. Are you devoting enough time and energy to these key people as you should, or do you let these relationships slide?

Another exercise for building a great front row of people around you is to ask yourself: Whose front row am I in? Look at your network and your friends and see who you are important to. Then ask yourself how you are doing at serving them, helping them and rooting them on.

3. Manage your energy like you manage your money. No matter how wealthy you are, you still have a finite amount of money -- and typically you stop and think before you spend or invest a bunch of cash, right? The key is to do the same thing with another finite, limited resource: your energy. Ask yourself: If I'm going to invest my energy in someone or something, are they going to do something with my energy that generate a return on my investment?

In short, treat a request for your time and energy like a business proposition. One way to do that is to only give advice with strings attached. When you give someone advice, always give them something to do--a simple action they should take based on your advice. If they ask for your help again, see if they did what you asked them to do the first time. If not, let them know you can't help them until they've taken that first step. If so, go out of your way to keep helping, as they've shown a commitment to executing on your advice.

4. Remain a lifelong learner. The desire to engage in continuous education is a hallmark of great entrepreneurs. It helps you stay on top of trends in and out of your industry that could impact your business, and allows you to meet and network with other knowledge-driven business owners who can help you "up your game" even more.

One of the most valuable learning options is a mastermind group -- where successful business owners across multiple industries meet to discuss vision, strategies and challenges and brainstorm together to make improvements. The diversity of these groups can help you discover best practices and identify solutions that might not occur to you if you simply met with other entrepreneurs who are just like you. Often in these groups, members share their financials with each other in order to drill deep and develop detailed action plans around specific goals.

Important: Join only those groups or organizations with the members and resources that can have a real impact on your success -- and that you can contribute your knowledge to as well.

5. Engage with the influencers in your niche. If you can enlist the help of influencers -- the movers and shakers among the types of clients you most want your business to serve -- you can leapfrog over the competition. Influencers can help you better understand the needs and concerns of your chosen niche and how to solve them, as well as help connect you to ideal prospective clients. That might mean, for example, going after the smartest people in the industry and forming partnerships or joint ventures with them. If you identify the people in control of key relationships and media channels and make them your partners, you'll get the first introductions to new leads and get big-time exposure in new markets. (Indeed, I recently co-authored a study of 3,500 highly successful entrepreneurs and found a high correlation between networking with influencers and superior financial results.)

Give yourself the tools you need to accelerate your success like never before. Check out the insights, tactics and actionable strategies from today's top entrepreneurs at AES Nation.

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