First things first, there is no one suite of characteristics and traits that magically unlocks successful entrepreneurship so if you don’t see some of your qualities in this article, don’t shelve your business ideas immediately.
The very nature of being an entrepreneur requires you to do something different. There is no list capable of encapsulating everyone but some quirks and commonalities exist. They may be characteristics, oddities, predilections or attitudes but they are ever-present in the entrepreneurship community.
Entrepreneurs are not limited to exceptionally “successful” types like Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma or Larry Page. They are anyone who wades into the working world with an idea capable of sustaining them long enough to breed some financial independence. Broadening this scope gives a fair sample size to help identifying what has helped make start-up owners successful.
Curiosity, creativity and learning underpin opportunity
Typically business owner’s will be an expert in their field or at least eager to continuously and quickly sponge useful information readily available to them. This thirst for knowledge is often responsible for landing them among the leaders and trailblazers of their industry. Having the expertise puts you in the driving seat when it comes to leading your industries forward either in new markets, to new customers or with innovation.
However, just having the relevant knowledge and positioning yourself as a leader does not automatically generate entrepreneurs. A combination of the knowledge, curiosity and opportunity tends to actually spawn the start-up ideas. In fact, having curiosity and opportunistic tendencies in spades can make up a lot of ground on expertise simply by staying vigilant.
Curiosity, creativity, innovation and all the other idea generating pillars easily catapults anyone with the right idea into entrepreneurship.
Being expert gives the understanding of what an industry may require but it certainly does not exclude someone armed with eminent creativity or disruptive ideas. If you are hoping to hit a home run idea in an industry you aren’t currently involved with, there is absolutely a place for you.
Hard-headedness give you a significant edge
Hard-headed scarcely sounds like a desirable greatest attribute but it is crucial. It also shouldn’t be confused with obstinacy. Perseverance and resoluteness is a necessity if you are hoping to survive in business.
Aspiring entrepreneurs frequently display the confidence to back themselves and trust their gut and ideas. It’s what gets you to the dance and lets you to execute on your ideas despite the fears and worries. Of course, fears of failure, embarrassment, risk and imposter syndrome beset the enterprise community but the resolution to not be paralysed by them overrules.
It is the same persistence that helps you find a way to overcome almost any problem. Perhaps it is fairer to recognise the combination of creativity and persistence but without the latter, failure is inevitable.
Any entrepreneurs worth listening to have a litany of obstacles they have not relented to. No doubt the unicorn entrepreneur who succeeded unblemished is out there but good luck finding them. The tenacity to endure is both admirable and compulsory and without it, you might be scuppered!
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
The US Navy Seals coined this saying that is oddly appropriate to business owners. The chances that you know absolutely everything you need to know about your proposed venture are slim to none. You might think you do but that is a hazard of its own accord.
Preparation, planning and learning are vital but don’t predict the curve balls that come your way. The regularity with which you are cast into ambiguous, stressful situations requiring quick decisions is nearly humorous. Don’t be stunned into inaction. Plan and prepare… but most importantly, adapt to being uncomfortable.
The vast majority of entrepreneurs establish companies in spite of clouds of doubt. It eventually becomes a familiar foe. Decisions underpinned by stressful risk are frequent and require a cool head and trust of your intuition. Calculating risks, options and potential outcomes from a place uncertainty become second nature. Be ready and accept it!
Attitude decides the impact of mistakes or failures
A plethora of platitudes exist when it comes to attitude to failures. “Win or Learn” from Conor McGregor’s coach ranks among the most notable to recently effervesce. It raises the matter of failure as a directional adjustment on the path to success. Further than that, it is the reasoning behind not confusing obstinacy with resoluteness.
Staying obstinate means you dig your heels in and avoid change which is the downfall of many entrepreneurs. Plenty of wildly intelligent leaders think they are represented by their ideas exactly as they offered them leaving no room for change, advice or improvement usually suffer. A true entrepreneur understands their own fallibility and accepts they can be wrong.
To have an idea that improves current market offerings but not accept that the idea itself could need improvement raises some questions.
In fact, in the humanness of accepting and overcoming mistakes quickly, there are significant benefits. Waste less money, time and effort. That is why the concept of failing fast exists. You admit it and can move past it quickly without drawing personal offense from mistakes. Setbacks will happen and attitudes determine how detrimental they are.
Prioritization and honesty reduces human waste
Shiny object syndrome is a genuine condition of being human. The ability to chase after the ‘new’ despite its unconfirmed benefit to us makes little sense but there is joy in novelty. Novelties and unimportant duties should rarely dominate the to-do list of an entrepreneur.
Sole-proprietors are usually the quickest entrepreneurs to learn the need to prioritize in business. While you are responsible for each part of your business, your overall aim is success. Effectively prioritizing means the efficient use of time, money, resources, staff and opportunities.
Raw honesty can curtail wastage in a similar fashion and its importance cannot be understated. It often underpins the acknowledgement of failings or mistakes or simply the need for change. Failings can be identified by any stakeholder but, ultimately, candidness spares future pains.
Honesty is demanded of an entrepreneur. Have you worked hard enough to expect success? Are you satisfying the market need? Do they need to pursue other avenues? Without it, you cannot expect to know or rectify the source of failure.
Vision may be 20-20 but it is not 360
Through honest admission, entrepreneurs figure out that it takes a village to raise a business. Everyone has weaknesses. It is just the nature of the game. The fortunate part about running a company is the ability to enlist help and advice.
Forgoing the one man army attempt on an industry unearths connections, mentors, and general assistance where you may need it most. Every driver has blind spots and in the frantic nature of starting out, you want to reduce how cataclysmic yours potentially could be.
Seeking help is not the sign of weakness it can be misconstrued as. Without lying down on the counsellor’s bed, it takes humility to accept when you need it or better still, before you need it. There are times to put your shoulder to the wheel but just as importantly, there are times to step back, reflect and get a second opinion.
Just like a new parent gets affirmation from other new parents, the advice of those willing to cover the blind spot can be invaluable.
Every entrepreneur will tell a different story about the characteristics and attributes they hold responsible for their success and invariably you will too. The world of entrepreneurship requires people to be different to make a difference. However, these commonalities go a long way toward explaining what it takes to be an entrepreneur.