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The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Small Business People


Stephen Covey wrote the book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People which was a best seller in many countries.

Recently as a small business accountant, I thought it would be good to list down what I have noticed about our top highly successful small business clients and what makes them tick. As I have always said "Success leaves clues".

So what are their successful traits?

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Figure 1: Where do you find the clues to success - from those that are successful of course!

habit #1 They love what they do

This may appear idealistic but the reality is that those who love what they do tend to be in the main far more successful than those who don't. If you don't enjoy what you do in business then I would strongly urge you to find out why it is you don't enjoy it. If you list these things down, there may be a way to work with your team and small business advisors to rectify these problems and get your passion back.

If by fixing these problems you still don't believe that it would make any difference to your enjoyment it might be time to work out an exit strategy and get out.

habit #2 they have a plan and vision for their business

Highly effective business owners have a plan. They also have a business by design and not a business by default. The fact is that if they have a business plan of what they want their business to look like then they effectively have a raison d'etre.

Do you really have a plan? Have you condensed it to a one page strategic plan so you can easily follow and explain to your team, financiers and family?

habit #3 they are forever trying to grow, improve & take risk

Very few successful business owners I know are happy to keep the business where it is. They are risk takers and generally are looking for business growth. In order to get this growth they have worked out:

  • how many customers they need;
  • how much the average spend needs to be;
  • the number of times the customer spends each year; and
  • how they attract, convert and retain customers.

The fact is that they usually have a good marketing team or company behind them and are willing to spend the money to facilitate this growth. Those that want growth tend to want to learn more and be more efficient. They also stay abreast of where their industry is now and where it is headed.

Have you ever noticed companies that take their key clients to events such as horse racing, rugby or rugby league, a professional golf event etc? Believe it or not, many when they first started could barely afford it but found a way to do it.

habIT #4 family is extremely important

Whilst I understand there may be countless examples where this may not appear to be the case, most successful business owners have a very high priority for their family. In the early days it may have seemed they were more focussed on the business but in reality many were getting their business set up so it could almost run by itself.

The fact that people work hard does not necessarily mean they don't think their family is important. Remember, it is not always possible to give everything away particularly at the start as the business will need some extra hard yards to get it going.

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Figure 2: Friends and family are so important for success.

habIT #5 they know their end game

Similar to having a plan, most successful owners know exactly when they want to exit the business and at what price. Very early on they understand whether or not they have a saleable business and what its business valuation is now and what they need to do by their time frame to exit to get the business valuation as high as they want it to be.

habIT #6 they monitor their numbers like a hawk

Successful business owners establish short key performance indicators and they get these reports almost daily if not weekly. They understand their break even point and at what sales level on periodic basis (daily, weekly,monthly, yearly) to reach their goals.

They have performed what-if cash flow forecasts and they know what the best and worst case scenarios are.

This is where they will look for good advice from their small business accountants and let them have input into their reporting framework.

They will have great accounting systems and will generally embrace change and make the most of technology with the various apps and cloud technology that is available these days.

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habIT #7 they surround themselves with good people

In life whether it is in business or otherwise, these highly successful people surround themselves with great business advisors. These will include:

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Figure 3: Surround yourself with good people and seek good advice.

Take a look at your current group of business advisors. Have you surrounded yourself with good people?


I am sure there are many other traits that highly successful business people show but these are the ones that stick out to me when I look at what is in front of me.

Consider these tips now. It's never too late!