Business Education:
Key Lessons From the
7 Habits of Effective People

Written by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Effective People has become a classic amongst personal development books and it contains many lessons that are useful for business owners.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit" Aristotle

In summary, the 7 habits of effective people are:

1. Being proactive

By nature most business owners and entrepreneurs are proactive people anyway. They take the initiative, they get things done and they know they have the power to influence the way their lives turn out.

The lesson for business owners is to always stay focused on what you can influence or change. For example, you may not be able to change an economic downturn but you can choose to look for new opportunities that it might bring.

When you take full 100% responsibility for your life you can also find solutions to challenges and problems.

2. Beginning with the end in mind

This is particularly important for business owners and one that business coaches focus a lot of attention on. Having a business vision and goals will make you far more effective in the way you operate.

3. Putting first things first

One of the best sections in 7 Habits of Effective People talks about time management and the importance of getting a grip on your time and priorities. This is critical for business owners and ultimately it comes down to making a choice.

Time management is not really about how you manage time, it's about how you manage yourself. For example, you can choose to waste too much time on tasks that aren’t important or you can choose to use it more productively.

4. Thinking win/win

Business owners by nature are often quite competitive and they need to be to stay ahead of the game. But thinking only in terms of 'winning' sometimes means that you may not be exploring all the opportunities that are available to you.

Relationships are key to business success but when you're fixed on the idea of winning it means somebody by definition must also lose. Maybe if you approached some situations with a win/win attitude you would strengthen your business relationships and benefit from more collaboration.

For example, when you're in negotiations with suppliers, instead of just thinking about what you want, if you also seek to find out what your supplier wants you may be able to find a solution that suits both parties.

A win/win solution keeps everybody happy and strengthens the partnership.

5. Seeking first to understand

In the 7 Habits of Effective People Covey talks about the need to “diagnose before you prescribe”. This is a great quote because so many people jump in to taking actions based on false assumptions.

One of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is that they tend to be measured in terms of their decision-making. They consider other people's viewpoints, ponder on all the angles of a situation and make sure they have a full understanding of everything before making a decision.

This also requires you to also be a good listener and to ask questions until you get the full picture.

6. Synergizing

One of the most exciting parts of being involved in a growing business is when you are part of a team that oozes confidence and creative energy. Simply put, 'synergize' in the 7 Habits of Effective People describes how the 'sum is greater than the parts'.

As a business owner, you will experience much greater success when you can harness the creative synergy within your team. It does require a culture of trust and cooperation where all team members can say anything, pitch ideas and speak truthfully when problems are occurring.

7. Sharpening the saw

The last of the Covey seven habits talks about the need to find balance in your life. No matter how important your business, to be truly effective, business owners must put a priority on self care and find ways to spend time rejuvenating.

How often do you get your best ideas in the shower or when you're on holiday? Very rarely do people hit upon genius ideas when they're sat at their desk.

Time away from your business is not just about stress management and your physical wellbeing; it's also good for business.

For many new business owners this requires an adjustment to their mindset. It can be difficult committing to having a work/life if you don't quite yet fully understand the implications. This is just as important, if not more so, than all the other 7 habits of effective people.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What excuses are you making in relation to your business?
  • How might you be contributing to problems you're experiencing?
  • In what areas could you explore more win/win solutions?

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