Entrepreneurs need to stay on their toes this year. Dramatic political headlines, fierce competition for talent, technological changes and a host of other factors mean all of us need to raise our game.

Here are five important traits and habits entrepreneurs need to succeed in 2019.


Regardless of how you feel about the news media, the “low information diet” some entrepreneurs espouse will not get you very far in today’s environment. With developments such as the recent government shutdown affecting many businesses and their customers, all business owners need to know what’s going on outside the walls of their offices. Even seemingly distant developments, like the EU’s copyright regulations for digital publishers, can have a ripple effect in the U.S., so it’s important to stay on top of what’s happening.

If you’re not doing so already, set aside 10 minutes a day to keep up with current events in whatever way you prefer—reading newspapers online, watching the news on TV or listening to the radio. It’s one of the best investments you can make in keeping your business ahead of the curve.

Quick reflexes

Knowing about news developments will give you a head start, but to make the most of them, you’ll have to analyze them, figure out what they mean to your business and, in some cases, act on them right away.

This can be overwhelming when you’re dealing with the daily realities of running a business. Going to events in your industry where you will meet other leaders who are dealing with the same challenges may introduce you to new ways to keep up that you haven’t thought of yet. If you’re not part of a trade association, consider joining one. They can be a great source of information about issues specific to your industry.

A collaborative spirit

Many small businesses are not in a position to take on the giants in their industry single-handedly. If that’s the case for your firm, look for opportunities to cooperate with other small and midsize businesses so you can compete.

Let’s say you run a three-person marketing firm. You may not be able to go after work from a Fortune 500 company on your own if you’re competing against much bigger marketing agencies. However, you may be able to become a contractor for a bigger agency that has the clout to win that work. The arrangement will give you opportunities to work on high-quality projects, and the agency to find the talent it needs to complete them. It’s a win-win.

A commitment to networking

To find out about—or create—opportunities to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, you will need to network often, and not only when work has dried up. Make time in your calendar every week to meet other entrepreneurs in your field and adjacent industries. Find out what your contacts’ goals are and look for ways you can help them achieve their targets through introductions, referrals and the like. The more you support your professional connections, the more likely they will be to help you.

A command of social media

It’s never been easier for a small business to reach a huge audience. You don’t have to master every kind of social media to make the most of this reach. It’s a matter of figuring out where your target customers hang out—whether that’s YouTube or LinkedIn— and building a presence there.

This may evolve over time. Let’s say you run a yoga studio. If you’re still blogging on your company website about how to get in shape and boost your mental game, why not try branching out onto Instagram, where many health and lifestyle entrepreneurs are making a mark? You’ll know soon enough if your target customers spend time there if they start responding to you.

Make sure that when you or your team use social media that you truly become a resource and a thought leader. In addition to sharing information on your product or service, let people know about relevant community events, products that complement your own.

Most entrepreneurs have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Focus on the activities that truly have an impact, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can grow your business this year.