Observing and working with entrepreneurs over the years it is clear that people in this category have many characteristics in common. And, while we all love to analyze the theories and strategies that can be learned from others to make things work better in your business as an entrepreneur, we often forget that there are also character traits that we could look to develop as well. You can read all the books in the world, but theories are useless unless you learn to adopt some of these characteristics:
1. Consistent boldness
Most entrepreneurs are naturally a little ballsy, but it’s not enough just to come up with a great idea or to start a business — you have to be consistently bold enough to stand by your idea, to keep pushing forward even when it seems like you’re making a monumental waste of effort, and when everyone around you just doesn’t see a happy ending. You also need to be bold enough to realize when you are stuck on a dead end road and it’s time to do something different.
You also have to be bold in putting yourself out there. Many people avoid doing this because they don’t want to feel sleazy or like they’re hard selling people, but unless you can get over this, nobody’s going to know about you or care about you.
Finally, you have to be bold in asking for what you want. Of course it’s totally terrifying to ask someone for something that you really want, but you will be amazed by how often people actually do help if you tell them how and if you ask the right way. For instance, I needed to raise money to build a vision called Markethive, an online ecosystem of sorts for Entrepreneurs. So I gathered up a couple hundred of my closet friends and associates, showed them my presentation and I raised $400,000 in 2 weeks to build the dream. But because I was bold enough to put myself out there and because I asked in a way in a way that appealed to them, I was able to raise the money to make it work. A good sense of humor always helps too!
Passion is about feeling so deeply for something (or someone), nothing or no-one could possibly get in your way from fulfilling that feeling. If you have that absolute, deep, unwavering passion for what you’re doing, nothing and no-one will stop you from taking the necessary steps to achieve your goal!
3. Risk Taker
There’s an old saying that if you haven’t failed then you’re just not trying hard enough. Risk taking is a part of business. Thankfully it’s rarely life or death but it might be pretty scary financially or emotionally. When assessing risk, you have to decide if the potential benefits outweigh the cost, and then take the necessary action no matter how uncomfortable it it may feel.
An entrepreneur is a leader. The two are not mutually exclusive. The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who starts and manages a business assuming the risk. You can’t start and manage a business without being a leader.
So ask yourself, are you ready to lead?
A lot of people mix up being flexible with being flighty. I’m not saying that you should just dabble in things or totally scrap a project at the first sign of trouble. You need to be focused and unshakeable on your big goals, but in parallel with that, you have to be able to be flexible with how things unfold day to day.
Being too rigid will cause you to lose a ton of opportunities that come up along the way, because you will be too focused on following your planned steps instead of recognizing opportunities that could get you to your end goal even better. So learn to pivot, and be flexible when you need to.
Having a sense of perspective is absolutely critical, because working as an entrepreneur usually feels a little crazy and because you’re going to fail hideously at least once. If you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you can’t take a step back, see the humor in situations, or dispassionately look at your failures to see what you can learn from them, then this probably isn’t the path for you.
7. Self Belief
The challenge when starting and growing your business is that for most people it’s the other way round and your self doubt will be tinged with moments of self belief. In order to achieve success you’re going to have to tip the scales. There is no way past it. You have to do whatever it takes to increase your self belief.
Take more risks and move out of your comfort zone more often. With each small win your confidence will rise.
Sometimes you are going to be faced with compelling opportunities which will detract you from your main focus and your ultimate goal. It’s down to you as an entrepreneur to stay committed to your ultimate goal and recognize which opportunities will move you closer to your goals and which will move you further away.
Beware the seduction of easy opportunity.
Finally, you’ve absolutely got to be resilient, certainly in the face of failure, but also just in terms of daily life as an entrepreneur. It can be really hard when you’re working for yourself — people don’t really get what you do every day and sometimes they might even think you’re just ‘messing about’. Resilience is what keeps you going, both when you get hit with a big failure or just the everyday crisis, so it’s essential that you learn how to bounce back.
I know I’m surprising absolutely no one when I say that things move fast as an entrepreneur. To be a great entrepreneur, you’ve got to be able to work fast and still keep the quality of your output high.
That’s not to say that you can’t do great things if you like to think or act more slowly — but if you are like that, then you’ll probably need to get a partner or a group that will balance you out and force you to act. Otherwise you’ll likely stagnate.