Most important characteristics of an entrepreneur
This article is about the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur. I realised that I had been working my way through the list of types of entrepreneurs, but hadn’t written specifically about entrepreneur. So this article corrects that. Particularly, as my blog is focused on business and entrepreneurship!
I’ve done some comparisons, for example, I have written on the differences between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. I have also written about a number of Dragons Den entrepreneurs…with more to come. So it’s time now to write about entrepreneur directly.
However, instead of simply giving the entrepreneur definition, as I’ve defined this on the other articles, I thought I focus on the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur instead.
So what are the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur?
Having met many entrepreneurs and also having been one myself for over 25 years, I have grasped some of the most important characteristics that are needed in order to succeed.
However, when I sat down to write this article, the only characteristic I had in my mind is the first one on my list of 9, which is tenacity.
So I had no planned idea of how many traits I’d write about, but it turns out to be nine…
So what are these nine entrepreneur characteristics…or the ones which I consider to be the most important?
1. The first characteristic is tenacity…
In my opinion, the number one characteristic of an entrepreneur is tenacity. This is the quality of someone who is determined. Someone who will do whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to succeed. A tenacious entrepreneur is more than just determined, they will hold tightly and not let go of things.
Being a successful entrepreneur requires you to be a metaphorical hurdler!
Tenacity means that an entrepreneur will be prepared to jump over whatever hurdles are in their way. Hurdles in the form of financial difficulties, staffing problems, changes in sales cycles, challenging customers, difficult trading times, and so on.
In order to get through all of these metaphorical hurdles, the entrepreneur needs to have a passion. Having a passion about the business they are in helps to breakdown the barriers. Where a person enjoys they daily work, these daily, weekly, or monthly challenges will become a game to the tenacious entrepreneur…they will take everything in their stride.
2. Having belief, no matter what…
Following on from tenacity, having belief is key, no matter what type of entrepreneur you are. And what I mean by that is belief in themselves as a person first an foremost. But in addition to self-belief, an entrepreneur must believe in what they are looking to achieve in business. Linked to this point is a passion for life and for the work you are doing.
There’s absolutely no point in waking up each day to work on something you don’t believe in or have no passion for. Most successful entrepreneurs not only have passion, but have strong beliefs in their mission.
Find your passion and you’ll never work another day in your life…wake up to fun and enjoy each day. Life is wonderful!
Many-times entrepreneurs are faced with having to swimming against the current, rather like a salmon working its way up a river to spawn. This concept is especially true for highly innovative entrepreneurs. As I write this, the person who springs to mind, and an entrepreneur that I’ve written about already, is Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.
Hindsight is easy, foresight requires belief!
When you look back and see what Bezos was up against, when he first created Amazon, many less tenacious entrepreneurs would have given up. It would be very easy to simply look back now and say Amazon is an obvious business model. However, back in 1994, when Bezos founded the company, although this was obvious to him and he had the vision, to many it certainly wasn’t. Bezos had belief.
But not Bezos. He had a true belief in what he had created…he had a vision. I remember reading about Amazon in the early days, and about the huge losses the company sustained. But despite the losses, and in spite of the many nay-sayers, his determination and belief brought him through.
This is also particularly true of inventive entrepreneurs, which leads on nicely to the next entrepreneurial trait…
3. A word already mentioned above is determination…
This is true for all types of entrepreneurs, and although determination is similar to tenacity, it’s more about an entrepreneurs mindset. A determined person is resolute, or firmly decided. An entrepreneur who is determined to do something may try the same thing several times. An example of this is Thomas Edison.
Entrepreneurship is 80% mindset…20% hard-work. If you have the right mindset it isn’t actually hard work at all…Find your passion and it’s a game-changer!
Thomas Edison famously quoted ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ This is sheer determination at its very best. Many lesser people would have given up well before Edison finally invented the light bulb. Most would stop after several attempts, let alone thousands of attempts.
4. A risk-taker and prepared to put everything on-the-line…
Many people might argue that this is the top and most important entrepreneurial characteristic. This could be argued when considering the definition of of an entrepreneur, which is a person taking on financial risk.
The entrepreneur who comes to mind for this trait, as he’s very current in the press whilst this article is being written, is Elon Musk. At one point Musk had $200 million in cash. He invested every last cent of this into his business. Back in 2010 he was personally broke…or actually ‘asset rich‘ and ‘cash poor‘
“My proceeds from PayPal were $180 million. I put $100 million in SpaceX, $70 million in Tesla and $10 million in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent“. Elon Musk. Now that’s putting everything on the line!
This is often a dilemma faced by entrepreneurs, but Musk took it one step further. He was borrowing from his billionaire friends to finance his $200,000 a month lifestyle.
At this stage in Tesla’s business life-cycle there was no certainty of success. It wasn’t until 2015 when the company received substantial grants from the US Government, when the fortunes of the business turned. One of Musk’s quotes to sum it up is…’Take risks now and do something bold…you won’t regret it‘.
5. The last characteristic leads nicely onto the next one, which is optimism…
Most successful entrepreneurs are eternal optimists. They have to be. They are faced with many problems and challenges. Many of these challenges the average person would run a mile from.
Having optimism is a key quality to keep going through adversity.
Having an optimistic mindset provides the foundation for ultimate success as an entrepeneur.
6. Having a creative mind and not being afraid to try something new…
The two words ‘creativity‘ and ‘entrepreneur‘ go hand in hand.
Entrepreneurs are creators, whether in their capacity as an inventor, and creating something new, as innovators, or simply creating new ways to achieve things in a better, cheaper or faster way.
If you look back through history, and see all the many fantastic inventions that have been created, we owe a lot to creative entrepreneurs. Probably one of the most amazing breakthroughs in the history of man, is flight.
When the Wright Brothers created the very first plane, and flew for the first time, this was a huge step for man-kind. This changed the world forever.
There are many other great inventions from creative entrepreneurs which probably deserve a mention, but somehow I feel that this one deserved a mention. I will keep those for a new article.
7. Being persuasive is another key characteristic of entrepreneurs…
The ability to sell and having a persuasive personality are key business success traits. Most highly successful entrepreneurs are good sales people and have excellent persuasion skills.
The ability to sell the product or service the business promotes is key. But it’s not simply about selling the product or service per se, but also about having the ability to persuade others, for the benefit of the business. The entrepreneur that comes to mind in this context is Sir Richard Branson. He has the art of persuasion down to a tee.
What this hugely successful entrepreneur has achieved in his lifetime is amazing. From his first small college business all those years ago…to him owning an airline, mobile phone companies, training businesses and much much more.
8. Vision is also a key entrepreneurial trait, combine this with drive and taking action, and you achieve success…
Having the vision to see an invention though to fruition and to have the drive to make it happen, are key entrepreneurial characteristics.
Being creative or inventive is not enough on its own, a successful entrepreneur and inventor needs to have vision too. To create something that has never existed, involves plenty of vision…to have the ability to visualise how something will work and come into being, is an amazing characteristic to possess.
However, if the many inventorpreneurs in history hadn’t taken action on their vision, we wouldn’t have the many inventions we have today. Which gets me thinking, I wonder how many inventions there are that have died with the many would-be entrepreneurs, who failed to take action…how many potential inventorpreneurs are there out there with a vision waiting to be acted upon?
9. A self-starter and someone who is self motivated is the last of the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur…
It’s almost impossible to imagine an entrepreneur without either of these traits. Entrepreneurs have to be self-starters. They have to be self-motivated, as most-times they don’t have anyone to push them.
The exception to this rule is when entrepreneurs choose to have a mentor. Alternatively, where entrepreneurs are in business with partners, they have each other for motivation.
An entrepreneur has to remain positive and to keep going, no matter what. Many times entrepreneurs will continue to work and fight on despite illness. They also have to remain positive, as great entrepreneurs, who are also good leaders, provide motivation to others.
It’s virtually impossible to motivate others if you yourself are not motivated.
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