Entrepreneurship is all the rage these days, but do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
A lot of the personality traits necessary to succeed in one ventures on his or her own are well known; hard work, appetite for risk, integrity, competitiveness, growth-oriented mindset, resourcefulness. However, there are other subtle, less talked about characteristics that are equally important to succeed in a very competitive entrepreneurial world and we shed some light on them here.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Fearless
All successful entrepreneurs are fearless. The one thing that most commonly stands between a successful entrepreneur and a person who will get kicked around all his life into becoming what others want him to be, is the fear of failure. Entrepreneurs know that this is not an impregnable hurdle. They face it, embrace it and celebrate it.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Perceptive
It takes a lot of savvy, heightened awareness and good judgement to identify a viable business opportunity and figure out how it can be transformed into a high growth business model. Entrepreneurs are therefore extremely perceptive individuals who can foresee the potential in solving a problem they experienced themselves or reported by someone around them. These same insights also serve to fuel their passion and lay the foundation of a startup. Entrepreneurs use their perceptive powers to dream and craft a vision that will guide them through the rest of their entrepreneurial journey.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Informed
After identifying a viable business opportunity, entrepreneurs need to accumulate intelligence about their venture. Market size, customer preferences and behavior, competitive landscape, pricing options, decision makers and key influencers in the market as well as prospective customers, potential partners, distribution options, legal and regulatory landscape, etc; all such things need to be known to succeed in this high-risk, high-rewards business. This information needs to be validated by actually getting out of the building and interacting with potential customers. Lousy entrepreneurs are informed by untested hypotheses. Good ones extract intelligence out of market-validated results.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Charismatic
Entrepreneurs need to be charismatic. It takes a lot of charm and drawing power to sell one’s vision to co-founders, employees, partners, investors and early customers. Entrepreneurs are not necessarily the most articulate in a public setting but they are still very good communicators and very passionate about their vision. Good ones need to learn to connect with people and infect them with that passion, energy and vision of the future.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Lean
I am a big fan of The Lean Startup methodology and I think all entrepreneurs need to embrace the essence of it. A lean startup is not a cheap business, but one that is more methodical and scientific about growing the organization with a keen sense of order and priorities. I have seen so many entrepreneurs start developing a product in a vacuum only to discover there never existed a market for what they have built. A lean entrepreneur, on the contrary, recognizes the value of customer discovery and validating his hypothesis about the business model very early on in the business’ life-cycle.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Resourceful
Growing a business requires resourcefulness as well. Not just to build a world-class team but also to reach out to investors, partners and customers as well. A good network is one of the most crucial assets of an entrepreneur, but more importantly, the ability to leverage that network effectively can be the difference between a failed and a successful startup. An entrepreneur will have to tap into his friends and family network to raise initial seed money for the venture. He will need to tap into the college or professional network to recruit good talent. He will need to be knowledgeable about tools and resources needed by his venture. He will leverage his contacts to approach business partners and investors for the startup. An entrepreneur is constantly fire-fighting and improvising and making the best out of every situation. All of this requires resourcefulness of mind, ideas, people and assets.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Tenacious
High-growth businesses require unyielding and strong-willed drivers with nerves of steel. While they need meticulous planning, even more importantly, they need leaders who have the ability to quickly react and adapt to constant feedback from the market. Conception of a business to an IPO or exit is almost always a very long roller-coaster ride with high highs and very low lows. Good entrepreneurs have the tenacity to absorb all the shocks and shield the rest of the organization from the bumps of that journey.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Patient
The high school I went to had a motto: Perseverance Commands Success. Almost all successful entrepreneurs I know of seem to subscribe to that mantra. Building a business is not the same as building a product. While products can be built in weeks or months using a lot of open source tools and frameworks out there, businesses are built over years, without exception. Successful entrepreneurs are not crap shooters, they are chess players and think and act long term. It’s pivotal for a good leader to be aware of the fine line behind which he must persevere and beyond which he must pivot and adapt. The only way to know where that line draws is to be in constant touch with the market and customers.
Successful Entrepreneurs are Caring
A successful entrepreneur knows how to love! He needs to care for his company, his employees, his business partners, his investors and most importantly, his customers. The hallmark of all successful, long running, profitable businesses has been customer service and the loyalty that accompanies happy customers. Successful businesses shoot for 25-40% of their revenue to come from repeat customers. Companies, like Zappos, best known for their customer loyalty attract more than 75% of their business from repeat customers. Their tag line? Powered by Service.