There are a number of factors that can make entrepreneurs successful. At the forefront are hard work, drive and constant self-improvement. However, one factor that’s frequently overlooked are the types of people entrepreneurs associate with.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea. After all, Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with.”
But what types of people should you be surrounding yourself with? Here are the 12 types of people all entrepreneurs should have in their inner circle.
1. People who are smarter than you
Andrew Carnegie famously suggested his epitaph should read, “Here lies a man who was able to surround himself with men far cleverer than himself.” And that’s exactly what he did: Carnegie surrounded himself with an excellent team that helped him sell U.S. Carnegie Steel to JP Morgan’s U.S. Steel for a staggering $400 million in 1901.
Entrepreneurs who want to succeed need to check their egos at the door. That means realizing you aren’t always the smartest person in the room.
Surrounding yourself with smarter people not only challenges you to bring your A-game, but it also allows you to learn new things and develop new ideas.
Plus, if you bring these people into your startup, it makes your workload lighter. Why spend an entire day coding when a more talented coder could do the task in a couple hours?
2. Those who love life
General Colin Powell once said, “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”
We often are consumed by the entrepreneurial lifestyle, where we’re working insane hours every week. That might work for some entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk, but he’s an anomaly. Most of us need to take a step back and enjoy life.
Sometimes, it takes someone else to make you realize this. It could be a friend who had a near-death experience; as a result, he lives life to the fullest. Spend as much time as possible with these types of people. It gives you a new perspective on life, exposes you to new experiences and prevents burnout.
3. People who ask lots of questions
As entrepreneurs, we should never stop asking questions about ourselves or our businesses. In the daily grind, we sometimes get complacent and stop asking important questions.
However, if there’s an inquisitive person in your inner circle, this isn’t a concern. She’s going to ask questions that provide a different angle or insight to an issue or idea. These questions can lead to a new breakthrough for you or your business.
4. Ambitious, passionate people
No matter how self-motivated and passionate you are, there are times when you feel defeated and exhausted. It happens to the best of us.
When you feel a bit down, you can always turn to those who have goals, want to accomplish more in life and have the big picture in mind. These people also tend to be optimistic and supportive.
Will that solve everything? No. But it will make you feel more inspired, motivated, confident and energetic — as opposed to the toxic people who just want to bring you down and drain your energy. As Oprah suggests, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
5. Those who have overcome adversity
Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, once said, “I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success.” This is a pretty accurate statement — I know from experience.
The thing is, not all entrepreneurs have had to overcome adversity. Sure, they may expect to fail, but it’s a different beast when you stare failure directly in the face.
That’s why surrounding yourself with those who have had to overcome such adversity is a necessity. They can give you advice on what mistakes to avoid, based on their past experiences, as well as how to handle this adversity.
6. Dreamers, creatives and visionaries
These are the people who make the impossible possible. Without them, we wouldn’t be traveling around the world in planes, exploring the stars or talking to family members across the country via FaceTime.
Even if they’re not in your industry, you need these people in your life. They can stretch your boundaries, challenge your perceptions and develop unique ways to solve problems.
Like Steve Jobs said in the famous Apple ad, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.”
These are the people who are so disciplined and laser-focused on achieving their goals that absolutely nothing gets in their way. Furthermore, they’re always looking for ways to improve. They don’t wait for opportunities; they make opportunities.
Not only are these people inspiring, but you can also learn a lot from them. How do they better themselves? How do they manage their time? How do they effectively put their skills to good use?
8. People who challenge you
University of California basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
You may think that arguing with others is a bad thing — and it is when it’s simply antagonistic. But I think Wooden really meant you need to surround yourself with people who challenge you.
It may be annoying at times, but these are the people who ask tough questions to make you justify your actions. During this debate, you may realize you’re going in the wrong direction and need to change course — or it may solidify your stance and convince your challenger. This discussion could also lead to ideas that hadn’t previously crossed your mind.
9. People who listen and provide honest feedback
These are the ones who actively listen to what you have to say because they have a genuine interest in you and your business.
Here’s where they’re clutch, however: When you’re done listening, they provide reasonable and honest feedback. You may not always want to hear it, but it’s coming from a good place. Ultimately, it’s their feedback that will help you grow as a person and rectify your mistakes.
10. Those embarking on a similar journey
Being an entrepreneur is tough, as you know. We don’t complain, though — we get up each morning and keep on hustling.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when we need to vent, ask for advice or exchange ideas to discover solutions to our problems. Your spouse, best friend or parents can be there for you, but, in all honesty, you need someone in the same situation you’re in.
Your fellow entrepreneurs are going through everything you are, so they’re more empathetic to your problems and concerns. They can also share with you how they’ve overcome certain roadblocks. And you need to be there for them when they need you.
If you don’t know any other entrepreneurs, here are 12 organizations you should join to meet like-minded individuals.
11. People with a sense of humor
Former NBA player Allen Iverson once said, “I surround myself with people who make me laugh.”
That’s actually some sound advice. Those with a sense of humor can lighten any situation up and help you not take yourself so seriously. More importantly, they tend to have good perspective and are able to look at the bigger picture.
And humor is good for your health. Cardiologist Michael Miller of the University of Maryland Medical Center and William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, have found that laughter improves health and leads to a longer life.
12. People with different backgrounds and interests
Finally, successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who have different backgrounds and interests. The reason? It encourages them to generate new ideas and get exposed to new opportunities.
One example that comes to mind is Vaxess. It’s a company looking to deliver and store vaccines in developing countries, where refrigeration is limited. The company was formed by four Harvard University students in grad school for business, chemistry, law and government and two Tufts University professors. Without their various backgrounds, this exciting company would have never been launched.
Types of People Determine Success
You really are the average of the five people you surround yourself with most — and your business’s success may rely upon their influence. Who are you surrounding yourself with?