The habits of successful business owners

I’ve worked with hundreds of successful business owners over the past 14 years of being a business coach.

Some people were already successful when they came to me, and some people had businesses which weren’t doing so well, but we managed to turn them around.

By hanging out with all of these people, I’ve been able to work out some of the habits of successful business owners to share with you.

Habits of successful business owners – 1 – they’re comfortable online

This is often an acquired habit and one that we have to work hard to get. But the people that I’ve worked with, who have done well, are usually very happy to do their marketing online, to put money and time into online communications and understand that their business has an internet footprint.

Sometimes, these are business owners who wouldn’t leave home without their iPad, because their whole lives are lived online; but sometimes these are just people who don’t even understand much about the technology except the potential that it has for their business, and they just delegate all of the production of the email newsletters, the SEO and the making of the videos to somebody else.

The habit is becoming comfortable with the idea that the internet can be used in so many ways to make your business successful.

Habits of successful business owners – 2 – they know what’s going on with the money

I met a man on a plane once who was Rupert Murdoch’s stockbroker. He told me that if he sent Mr Murdoch a spreadsheet, the next day he would get very detailed questions, often pointing out a mistake in cell C343, or something like that, which showed that he’d been through the spreadsheet in detail. Now you may, or may not, like Rupert Murdoch, but he has made shed-loads of money.

Not all of us can be quite so detail-orientated, or have the kind of brain that can deal with spreadsheets in that way.

But one thing that I have noticed about the successful business owners I’ve worked with is that they know what’s going on with the money in the company. They know how much they invoiced last month, and how much they need to spend in the next three months. These are the people who, when we work on financial targets, know whether they’ve met the target or not. Which is kind of the point of having a target.

Habits of successful business owners – 3 – they’re organised

Graham Alcott, who teaches how to people to be more organised and productive in their work, explains in his book How to be a Productivity Ninja that he used to be a very disorganised person, but then he found out that this was getting in his way when he had to get things done. Most successful business owners are not naturally organised, in fact, it’s a rare trait.

Whether the successful business owners I’ve worked with are naturally organised, or have someone else to organise their lives for them, or (like Graham) they’ve learnt how to be organised, it doesn’t matter. But when I work with a successful business owner, I can tell, because they write down the actions that we agreed, often straight into their to-do list, and when I see them again two weeks later, they will tell me how much progress they’ve made on this action.

Well organised by pxhere

Successful business owners are organised and get things done.

Habits of successful business owners – 4 – they reinvest in their business

This one is very difficult indeed. The people that I work with are often running quite small businesses. They come to me because they want their businesses to grow and become bigger. That means that they usually don’t have a lot of spare money to reinvest in the business. If Rupert Murdoch needs £10k for a new website, it’s not a lot of money for him, but £10k usually is a lot to reinvest for those of us running smaller companies.

One of the things I’ve definitely noticed about people I work with whose businesses grow rapidly is that these are the people who will somehow find the money to experiment on some Facebook ads or do a course on email marketing.

These are the same people who will invest a lot of their own time in getting things going, and this investment of time is often more difficult, but more important, than being able to throw money at the business.

Habits of successful business owners – 5 – they are willing to change

Sometimes, people come to me because they want to completely change or pivot their business. And sometimes I have to tell people that they need to drastically change what they’re doing because the current thing won’t work. This is often a challenging conclusion to come to, but I’ve noticed that successful people very quickly embrace change and are happy to do so. Somebody remarked to me yesterday that successful people don’t “flog a dead horse”.

Habits of successful business owners – 6 – they will try new things

There are no magic answers in business. If there were, I would just sell the magic answers on my website and then I could sit in my chair and eat chocolates all day.

Successful business owners come to me and say, “Julia, I’m thinking about doing this, what do you think?” These are the people who will test out the new signup box on the website and tinker with the wording to see which call to action works best. Others will think of a product one week and then have it for sale three weeks later.

Trying out new things by Grady T Fontana


Of course, trying out new things can be a double-edged sword, and some of my business advice clients have to be stopped from trying too many new things all at once because you can’t test too many variables at the same time. Or they develop so many new things that they then never have the chance to make money out of any of them. But overall, trying new things is definitely one of the habits of successful business owners.

Habits of successful business owners – 7 – they will delegate to others

One of the most inspirational people I’ve ever worked with, who definitely has all of these habits, will write out detailed lists of what he wants people to do for him. And then he gives it to an assistant to do and forgets about it.

Sous chef by Wesley Wright


It’s ticked off his list and he’s moved on to the next thing. He will go through his business and find anything that he can give to somebody else, and then he’ll delegate it. That guy gets a lot done, and it’s all of a very high quality.

What habits of successful business owners do you have?

I’m interested in what you see in the people that you work with, or meet at business networking events, that you would add to this list of habits of successful business owners. Do let me know.

And if you’d like to be a more successful business owner, maybe it’s time to start investing more in your business, get more organised and get some business advice and support. Here’s how that all works…


Photo credits – Sunset Jump by Josh Janssen; Carlos Muza on Unsplash; Well Organised by pxhere; Trying Out New Things by Grady T Fontana; Sous Chef by Wesley Wright