Monday, 1 August 2016

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. We have certain skills and traits that create the kind of crazy person driven to work for ourselves. Owning a business isn't for the faint-hearted. It requires dedication, passion and a certain sadomasochism. After all, when you're the boss, there is no such thing as time off! And we love it!

There are specific characteristics that are common to all entrepreneurs. How much these traits describe us will determine just how successful we can be, though effort can make up for a lot of shortcomings. Developing these mindsets further is what helps create a good entrepreneur.
  1. A good entrepreneur is able to delay gratification.
    This one seems kind of obvious on the surface but its true. To start a business requires a lot of sacrifice, and you don't always see the results right away. But to the entrepreneur, the timing of the reward isn't the concern. We aren't worried about being recognized or compensated right away.  We aren't intimidated and we don't feel entitled to anything. We're in this for the long haul, and a lack of immediate success isn't going to stop us.
  2. A good entrepreneur can tolerate conflict.
    Whenever you start something new, there is inevitably conflict. Whether its with your schedule or the people around you, there will be some contradictory demands made on you. The successful entrepreneur is unafraid of conflict. We don't seek it out and we don't cause conflict. But we don't take attacks personally, and we maintain composure in the face of stress. We never attack personally either, but deal with the issues at hand.
  3. A good entrepreneur can focus.
    It can be hard to start a business, among all the many other things we do in our busy lives. But the difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur is this: focus. The entrepreneur doesn't let the distractions of life and work deter them from turning the dream into a reality. He keeps his eye on the end goal and focuses on the plan, doing those things necessary to bring success.
  4. A good entrepreneur is judiciously courageous.
    The mark of a successful, creative thinker is the ability to ask the embarrassingly simple questions. We challenge the current status quo and ask why a lot. Sometimes this gets us into trouble, which is why we also need to know the proper timing for such questioning, and to use some common sense. It takes courage to ask the questions, but also takes discernment to know when and where to ask them. And sometimes it takes a little common sense to see the answer before you ask.
  5. A good entrepreneur can control their ego.
    Sometimes when we start new things, we make mistakes.  Being willing to admit to them is what will create the atmosphere of respect and openness that every new business needs to succeed.  We need to acknowledge the contributions of others and be willing to accommodate them. We also need to recognize our own contributions without fanfare. An ego trip is bad for business.
  6. A good entrepreneur is never satisfied.
    Business Insider recently ran an article quoting AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who stated that those who don't spend time learning new things will find themselves obsolete. If this is true for those working for big corporations, its even more true for the entrepreneur. We need to be always learning, always looking to improve, always looking for the opportunity to gain a contact or relationship or new skill. We're never satisfied with the current state of affairs.
  7. A good entrepreneur solves problems.
    Rather than complain or criticize, we work for the greater good. A successful small-business owner doesn't sweat the small stuff, but handles each detail as it comes up. No issue is too small, since we know that its in the seemingly trivial things that can make or break us. We don't tolerate waste, whether its in operations, in capital or in our time. We look for the solutions.
  8. A good entrepreneur is accountable.
    The words "it's not my job" are not in our vocabulary. We own our work, and we own our mistakes. We may not have a boss to report to, but we are accountable to a mentor, a coach, our life partner, or friends.. and we are most definitely accountable to clients. If you can't be accountable, you will not be a success.
  9. A good entrepreneur is marketable.
    As much as a good product or service is essential to business, so is the person behind the product. To be a success, the entrepreneur must sell themselves as much as they sell their business. You have to be likeable and have a certain amount of charm and ease around people. We create a sense of trustworthiness and integrity with how well we represent ourselves to others.  It's the leadership skills - true servant leadership - that will ultimately make a client decide whether or not they work with us.
Everyone dreams of being the boss. But it's those with the key traits of an entrepreneur that turn their dreams into reality. While not everyone is good at everything, we can develop these traits, and as we do, we will find that our hard work turns into the success we're looking for.

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