There's no clear-cut path to being a successful entrepreneur. If there were, wouldn't we all carefully follow it to the mythical Promised Land? However, while there may not be a defined path for your own career, you can certainly learn a thing or two by studying what other young entrepreneurs have done -- and continue to do.
Adopt These Five Habits for a Bright Future
A habit is a curious thing. It all starts with a single isolated decision and gradually turns into a routine based on subsequent choices to uphold the decision and make it a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule.
The troubling thing is that habits can be adopted both willingly and without much forethought or planning. This means that you need to be careful with whom you surround yourself with, what you trust, and where you go. We're all just one step away from developing a bad habit. But -- with that said -- we're also only one step away from developing a productive habit that catapults us to where we want to be!
Let's take a look at some of the top habits of successful millennial entrepreneurs so we can get an idea of which habits will be healthy and productive for 2016 and beyond.
1. Go Against the Grain
The problem with many of today's young entrepreneurs is that they look at a successful peer and say something along the lines of, "I could probably do that." In reality, successful entrepreneurs don't follow the mainstream way of doing things. Just because everyone else is following one path, it doesn't mean that you should too. While there's more risk on the less traveled path, there's also increased potential for success.
Take entrepreneur and successful stock trader Timothy Sykes as an example. Instead of taking the conventional route to a career in finance and investing, Sykes chose a unique path.
"I had a slightly different college experience," he said, "skipping classes in favor of trading penny stocks every day, I turned $12,415 in Bar Mitzvah gift money into $2 million and started a hedge fund during my senior year." How's that for going against the grain?
But Sykes isn't the only one. If you look at any ultra-successful entrepreneur, he or she usually took an alternate path. This is more than just a coincidence.
2. Develop a Morning Routine
A routine is crucial as an entrepreneur. Though you probably don't want every single minute of your day regimented, you should find ways to add structure to various parts of the day. This is something that many entrepreneurs - including Rameet Chawla, founder of Fueled - have found helpful.
"My overarching goal is to be consistent in my schedule, and as a result, I live a lifestyle that allows me to maximize the amount of work I get done," Chawla says. "I believe this type of prioritization has made a huge impact on how quickly Fueled has grown."
While Chawla follows a unique schedule and gets work done at night, most will find that a morning routine works better. Starting off your day on the right foot will really make a difference in how you attack the rest of the day.
Your morning routine doesn't have to be super productive and detailed, but it should contain some elements of consistency that allow you to "get in the zone." This could be something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee in your favorite chair, checking emails, taking a hot shower while listening to music, etc.
The routine is less about what you do and more about feeling comfortable, confident, and prepared. Once you realize this, feel free to create a unique routine that works for you.
3. Set Clear Goals
While it may not sound like a habit, clear goal setting is indeed something that requires a concerted effort. We all understand the importance of setting goals, but few of us are willing to set aside the time to create these goals.
Patrick Ambron, the cofounder of BrandYourself, has a habit of setting three clear goals per week. He then spends the week working to meet each of these goals - in addition to his normal responsibilities. This helps him to establish priorities and to direct his energy.
Taking a page out of Ambron's book, you should also make a habit of setting clear goals. Ambron meets with his leadership team every Friday to discuss goals for the following week. Is this something that you could do to hold yourself accountable?
4. Make Networking a Way of Life
Networking doesn't happen in a vacuum. While formal networking events and business conferences may facilitate natural conversation, the reality is that you must master networking in all areas of your life. It needs to be something you think about and do from the moment that you wake up in the morning until the moment that you lie down at night.
Lisa Rangel, a job search consultant and executive resume writer, suggests making a habit of calling three contacts per day. This should include three people whom you don't normally talk to on a daily basis.
"Push yourself out of your comfort zone and contact people you don't talk to as often," she says. "Look at co-workers you have not spoken with in 6 months. Vendors you dealt with at a previous employer. College roommates and friends that you have not chatted with in eons. Neighbors that moved away and you lost touch."
The value of this is that you're able to cultivate relationships without appearing "needy." Then, when you finally do need something, you can use the equity you've built to make a genuine pitch.
Rangel also suggests having lunch with someone outside of your normal circle of peers at least once per week. Lunch meetings are much more memorable than phone calls and can really take a networking relationship to the next level.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure networking isn't something that only happens at bi-monthly networking events or industry conferences. Networking should be a natural part of your daily routine.
5. Ask Yourself This Question
Each night before you go to bed, it's helpful to have a quick period of self-reflection. In particular, try asking yourself this question: "If I could relive today and do any one thing differently, what would it be?"
While some people like to say they live life with no regrets, this is a foolish mantra. If you don't live with any regrets, how are you going to improve and grow? By asking this question, you can identify weaknesses and correct them before they have a more serious impact.
However, it's imperative that you only ask the question once. Too much negative reflection isn't good. Limit the question to a single action, and then move on.
Develop Your Own Successful Habits
Becoming a successful entrepreneur involves both modeling and innovation. In other words, you must learn to model certain aspects of your career after those who have gone before you while simultaneously adopting your own unique habits.
In this article, we've dissected a few of the top habits of successful millennial entrepreneurs. Whether you're 25 or 65, there's value to be extracted from these lessons. Review and apply them to your own entrepreneurial pursuits moving forward. You may be surprised by just how influential they can be.