You've heard it said that certain careers require certain attitudes to succeed in. Policemen must possess good physical fitness and courage in the face of danger. Graphic designers must be creative, original thinkers with an artistic mind. Entrepreneurs, too, share several common characteristics that those those who hope to achieve success in the field should strive to emulate. Today we explore seven crucial characteristics of the best entrepreneurs that anyone thinking about starting a business ought to consider.
In the business world, problems and complications are a part of every day life. Especially in the early days of a company, entrepreneurs can be said to be climbing a wall of opposition as they struggle to manage the many goals, tasks and constantly evolving problems of the new organization. Furthermore, many entrepreneurs fail many times when trying to start a small business, and the ones who succeed are the ones who can persevere through failure and try again. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was publicly thrown out of his own company at age thirty. Fighting thoughts of suicide, Jobs regained his composure and went on to found two other very successful companies, NeXt and Pixar. Later, Jobs was recruited to come back to apple and rescue the company from the brink of extinction. His efforts demonstrate perseverance in entrepreneurship better than perhaps any other.
The ability to see an end goal, break it down into many tasks, and see those tasks through to completion is a crucial skill of successful entrepreneurs. This skill is one many of us learned in high school and college. When you had a big research paper due, you knew you had to research the topic, find time to write the paper, compile a bibliography, proof read it, and turn it in on time, all the while also working a job and managing work from other classes.
Similarly, you may come into your office one day to find that not only must you prepare a presentation for a big name contract, but must also move everything out of the main office in preparation for a new hardwood floor installation, while also making sure that the design guys finish their website template on time. Rarely will these things work out without any issue, and that is when you must manage the tasks and figure out how to make them all happen.
It is typical for many people to discourage you in the early days of your new project. This can be even more painful when your first few projects either fail or achieve very little success. Disparaging remarks can be hurtful to the morale of a new entrepreneur trying to get his or her new project off the ground. It is then that you must possess the courage to tune out those who do not share your vision, ignoring the nay-sayers and pressing forward on nothing more than the strength of your own determination.
It takes true courage to reject social pressure and to try to build something truly outstanding, but this is a trait that all successful entrepreneurs must have in order to survive in the business world. When Larry Paige and Sergey Brin were beginning work on Google, they made the decision to max out their credit card and drain their bank accounts in order to fund the nascent project. Such a decision surely must have attracted some negativity from peers and family, but the two showed true courage in seeing the project through to the billion dollar empire it is today.
Rare is the entrepreneur who achieves huge success completely on his own. Even Andrey Ternovskiy, the 17 year old founder of the wildly popular yet incredibly simple ChatRoulette website had to take investment money from his family to get the project rolling. Whether you need help with design, programming, finance, or investment, if you plan on going into business, you must possess the ability to approach other people and convince them of the worth of your idea. More than just a friendly attitude, you must somehow find a way to bend their vision to match your own so that they come to see the brilliance of you work in the same way you do. This is by no means an easy skill to master, but it is one that will help you greatly as you struggle to put your new company together.
There is a saying among business savvy people that "everything is negotiable." While this might not be exactly true, it does illustrate that most people in business will try to negotiate with you as you strive to put deals together. Unless you possess solid negotiation skills, you might end up getting the short end of the stick. For example, if you hope to put together a deal where a skilled programmer works on your project without pay in exchange for equity, you might only want to give up 5%, but he may be thinking more along the lines of 15%. Unless you possess a strong will and an ability to negotiate in a time of need, you'll end up giving away more of the company than you had hoped.
A key difference between running a business and working a job is that no one will be pressuring you to complete your tasks when you run your own business. Instead, you must be completely self-motivated to do everything it takes to get the work done. In the beginning, you may be working a day job or attending college classes at the same time. This means that after taking care of the work owe to those obligations, you must still find enough energy and determination to sit down and put in long hours for your business.
If you are the sort of person who needs a boss hawking over their shoulder in order to remain on task, or feels that you work best inside the known structure of a job, entrepreneurship will not be an easy life path for you. When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg began work on the project, he was attending classes at the prestigious Harvard University. By finding the drive to not only juggle demanding course work but also to develop a groundbreaking social platform, Zuckerburg demonstrated rock solid internal motivation.
Sometimes the best ideas are ones that are already showing huge success. As an example, when Jack Dorsey launched Twitter in 2007, Facebook's status feature was already in use and gaining popularity. No doubt seeing the opportunity in the feature, Dorsey and his team made it the central feature of Twitter. This little social web application has skyrocketed in popularity, being regularly used by web surfers, celebrities, and even companies for marketing purposes. Twitter was recently valued at $1 billion after raising close to $100 million in venture funding. The lesson to be learned is clear: if you give the public what it wants, you stand a great shot at success.
About the Author: Chris Bennett is a freelance writer for Business Owner’s Toolkit. Read more about Chris here.