Everyone wants to be the next Kevin Systrom or Mark Zuckerberg, own a multimillion-dollar business empire, and be the boss of their own will. However, the entrepreneurial path is full of stressful situations and challenging odds. Aspiring entrepreneurs have to consider several factors and compete with the established rivals, keep the cash-flow intact, and tap into the latest market trends, and keep the investors happy at the same time. As a result, they have to often work long hours and take more risks compared to an average working Joe.
However, real entrepreneurs need a lot more than hard work and ability to take risks. They need to have (most if not all) the essential qualities that allow them to lead a team of highly efficient professionals and build a billion-dollar company from scratch. Despite coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds, most successful entrepreneurs share a few common traits.
Here are the 7 personality traits that make successful entrepreneurs stand out.
It may sound obvious, but a successful entrepreneur should be passionate about his business. That’s why very few “Type A“ personalities having an unhealthy dependence on external rewards such as wealth, status or power are successful entrepreneurs. They aren’t workaholics who give up every other aspect of their life to run a successful business either.
What will keep you going if your income wanes and physical energy drains? It’s your passion. Being passionate about your work will allow you to be more persuasive, have a better social circle, and create a robust social support system. Passion also keeps you moving when going gets tough. Passion and purpose always go hand-in-hand, and putting in long hours will be tough without a purpose or belief.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson also admits that launching a business simply to make money is likely to result in failure. “If you have an idea that might work in an area that you’re not passionate about, instead think about ways that you could apply it to a sector that does excite you. Look at your idea from a different perspective, and you might be surprised by the results,” says Branson.
All aspiring entrepreneurs have to face challenging situations on a daily basis, but only those succeed who refuse to quit. You can call it whatever you like tenacity, perseverance, or even stubbornness. It is the vital ingredient that binds all other qualities such as passion, creative problem solving, team building skills, and ability to accept failure together.
Turning a business idea into a reality can take years. Most successful companies and brands we see today took several years to get established. That’s why every time you face challenging circumstances, it’s essential to keep a positive outlook. You need to find a way to deal with your frustrations and failures.
Shashank ND, Co-founder, and CEO of Practo, a healthcare start-up from India, often turns to sports and exercise to overcome the challenges and frustrations. “Challenges are part and parcel of the start-up life, and you need to face them with mettle. I run a lot, exercise a lot, and work out at the gym regularly. I also play various sports such as Squash. I started doing many of these things to manage extra workloads. When I feel frustrated, I go to the gym and unleash my frustrations on the equipment out there (laughs),” said Shashank in an interview with e27.
Being tenacious and even a bit stubborn is crucial to becoming a successful entrepreneur, but being adaptable to changing market conditions and consumer needs is also equally important. Irrespective of your grand-vision and well-planned approach, your business is going to face unexpected twists and turns.
Yes, you do need to believe in your idea. But, you also need to make money out of it. As a genuine entrepreneur, you must learn to welcome the suggestions for optimization based on the changing circumstances. In fact, several global brands we know today started out as a completely different business idea. Samsung used to export dried fish, noodles, and locally-grown products to Manchuria and Beijing before venturing into electronics manufacturing. While IBM used to manufacture commercial machinery such as meat slicers, coffee grinders, weighing scales, and punched card equipment before going into computers and information technology.
In this increasingly technological world, flexibility has become an essential tool for survival. You can get access to vast amounts of information such as consumer behavior, market shifts, buying cycles, your competitors, and the effectiveness of your campaigns in real time. However, as the new data comes in swiftly, your business policies need to be modified quickly too. For example, you may have to reduce the product cost to combat a new competitor or change your market segment according to the evolving economy.
- Creative Problem Solving
As an entrepreneur, you can embrace adaptability. But, do you have the ability to take advantage of the changing circumstances and turn the tide in your favor? You need creative problem-solving skills to keep tabs on an ever-changing business environment. As a leader of your organization, you will be expected to deal with problems related to every aspect of your business including idea generation, strategic project execution, financial planning, and workforce management. Creative thinking plays a crucial role in handling all these challenging factors.
Most inventions and discoveries took place at the intersection of two disciplines which is a sign of creativity. With the proper use of your creative problem skills, you can not only satisfy customer expectations but also exceeds them. Creative problem-solving skills can also help mitigate organizational issues, especially in the beginning when your organizational structure is being set up.
It promotes both convergent and divergent thinking processes among your employees. Convergent thinking allows you to find the accurate solution to a problem by analyzing the data. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, generates creative ideas by exploring various possible solutions to the same problem. Both, convergent and divergent thinking needs to work together if you want your business to thrive.
- Active Listening
When it comes to entrepreneurship, people talk about communication skills and the ability to express your ideas in precise words. Unfortunately, in today’s world, everyone wants to speak first and the loudest, but no one wants to listen. It hardly makes any of us better communicators.
As an entrepreneur, you will need to listen to customers, colleagues, mentors, and investors on a regular basis. Active listening showcases that you care about your organization, business idea, and the customers. Active listening leads to active engagement, which in turn, makes you a compassionate boss.
Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop believes that active listening enhances your personal growth and the development of your company. “Even though I am the CEO, my voice does not necessarily need to be the most prominent. If you take a second to step back and engage by listening to your colleagues, you may be surprised by the insight that you gain,” said Morris in his article.
Active listening is also vital to a healthy exchange of information within the organization. As people listen to each other, it reduces conflict, internal hostility, and fosters teamwork. But, most importantly, it establishes you and your business as a trusted entity. Fortunately, active listening is a skill you can develop with practice. All you need to do is make conscious efforts to listen to what people are saying, and not just words, but the overall message.
- Owning up Mistakes
In business you don’t have the liberty to regret your bad decisions, you can only learn from them. However, to learn from your bad decisions, you must first own up your mistakes. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be honest with yourself as well as others. When you own up your mistake, it demonstrates you as a responsible and accountable leader. This kind of honesty will earn you accolades and respect from your peers and employees in the long run.
When you accept your mistake, you and your team members can quickly shift their focus to find out the root cause and take the necessary steps to fix it. Giving others excuses for why something happened or denying your mistakes, however, often ignites the problem. Instead of solving the problem, soon, everyone will start blaming each other or covering up their mistakes. The blame game culture can seriously jeopardize the reputation and functioning of your business. Owning up to your mistakes is never easy. But, considering the benefits it can bring to your business, it is worth trying.
- Willingness to Start over from Scratch
No aspiring entrepreneur likes to hear the word failure. Sadly, failure is going to be part of your life if you choose to be an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs have to face failures but only the ones who have the willingness to start from scratch again become successful. Neil Patel, a prominent figure on the internet and co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and Kissmetrics, had two failed companies and was $1 million in debt before achieving tremendous success.
Traf-O-Data was a company founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the early 1970s. It was Gate’s first ever business venture that failed miserably. “Despite efforts to sell our wares as far afield as South America, we had virtually no customers. Traf-O-Data was a good idea with a flawed business model,” recalled Allen. But, what they learned from that experience help the duo create Microsoft, one of the most successful software companies on the planet.
The ability to overcome failure in business is rooted in the ability to start over from scratch. It lets you view failure as an asset, not a liability. Learning from your failures will only help you get better at managing the whole entrepreneurial process.
Being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding. But it’s a challenging role to play. Before you make the decision to launch your first business venture, take a look at these personality traits that a successful entrepreneur must possess. They will help you determine if self-improvement is required. Although there is no formula for entrepreneurial success, honing these skills will surely improve your chances to build a successful start-up and keep it afloat forever.