Entrepreneurship is an exciting and appealing route that many people hope to take in life. Setting up your own business gives people tremendous satisfaction, and greater control and freedom over what they decide to do in life. This for many is far more appealing than working for someone else, and lots of people, given the choice, would prefer to be their own boss and do what they want to do. Taking the entrepreneurial path is not an easy one, and as Thomas Edison famously stated of his own entrepreneurship:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.
Despite repeated mistakes and failures, entrepreneurs still love what they do and come bouncing back for more. This leads to the question, what drives this. Have you ever wondered what it is that separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest of us mere mortals? There are arguments about whether entrepreneurship is something that people are born with or whether it is a skill that can be learned. Whatever side of this fence you fall on, there are certainly a range of different traits that are common among all entrepreneurs. Writing for Entrepreneur in 2014, Joe Robinson came up with a number of traits that are frequently common among entrepreneurs, and we’ve added our own in as well, based on our own experiences and observations:
1.Vision – one of the most noticeable traits of successful entrepreneurs is their vision that they are able to communicate effectively to inspire others. All successful entrepreneurs are frequently labelled as being inspired visionaries because they can clearly see where they want to go, and that it is possible to get there. Even when people are telling them otherwise.
2. Sticking at it – Joe Robinson calls this “tenacity”, and it is a trait shared among all successful entrepreneurs. These people stick at it despite the 10,000 ways that won’t work. They stick at it despite getting rejections. They stick at it regardless of the naysayers around them telling them that it can’t be done. They are determined and they stick to what they want to achieve.
3. Passion – as explained by Joe Robinson, all entrepreneurs that are successful have a huge passion for what they do. They are excited about it and are able to drive this enthusiasm in others too. Take a look at Richard Branson of Virgin, or the late Steve Jobs, as they are fine examples demonstrating this particular trait.
4. Uncertainty-tolerant – entrepreneurship is not for those that cannot handle uncertainty. Ambiguity and not being sure about what will happen are fundamental aspects of entrepreneurship. This requires resilience and mental strength to overcome, and to just be able to bear with it day after day.
5. Self-confidence – being able to believe in yourself and your ideas is critical because people will continually be telling you that it won’t work, or that no one will go for your idea. That means you have to keep telling yourself that it will. Believing in yourself and your idea will help see you through some of the hardest times.
6. Adaptability – belief in your own idea is important but holding onto a fixed idea of what will work when presented with comprehensive evidence that shows you that it will not is not smart. Successful entrepreneurs are able to adapt their idea to fit changing circumstances to increase their chances of achievement.
7. Rule breaking – the last of Joe Robinson’s traits of successful entrepreneurs, this suggests that entrepreneurs are risk takers who do not necessarily follow the crowd. They are comfortable stepping outside of the box to follow their dreams, and don’t take the word of others that there is only one way of doing things when they believe there are other options.
8. Ability to plan – entrepreneurs that are successful understand the adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. They don’t over-plan every detail but they do have goals and a plan to reach those goals that is documented.
9. Involved – successful entrepreneurs know that to drive their success they need to be involved in it. They don’t just hand it off to others without input. Their involvement is paramount to their success because it provides direction and purpose for those implementing the idea. At the same time, they are not micromanagers.
10. Self-motivated – entrepreneurs know that the only person that can really motivate someone is you. Others can help to inspire you, but true motivation to achieve something comes from within.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.