Being an entrepreneur is not just about starting a company.
It’s about building value for yourself, your employees, and your customer.
This generally takes years of hard work, perseverance, and failure before it pays off. It’s no coincidence that many estimates show that 80 percent of new business ventures fail within the first 18 months. Starting a business is difficult.
So, what do you need to make it work?
Obviously, you don’t need certain skills or knowledge; those vary from company to company and industry to industry. In order to succeed at some businesses, you need to be a technology expert with the necessary programming experience. For other companies, maybe you just need to be savvy at talking to people.
But what does remain in each case are inherent personality characteristics that define successful entrepreneurs. Their temperament and mental fortitude are what set them apart from those who fail and the even bigger group of people who never try to start their own business.
Whether you’re starting a medical practice, a yoga studio, or a tech startup, all successful entrepreneurs share a few key personal characteristics. Here are seven of the most important:
As the leader of your business, you will be the one who needs to cast a vision for your entire company. You’ll need to set the vision for the team, for your customers, and possibly even for investors.
This takes an ability to think strategically and long term about what your company can become and what it can look like in the future. It may mean imagining a bigger role for your company in the world than just the service or product it provides.
Vision is the quintessential characteristic that every entrepreneur needs because it also drives them each and every day. Having a vision for success is motivating and will push you to perform at your best, even when times are difficult.
As an entrepreneur, you will need to find ways to scale your time and effort. Because you wear so many hats, you’ll often need to learn new things quickly, find ways to maximize your time, or rely on other people or technology to help get more done.
Smart use of technology is immensely important for entrepreneurs, enabling them to find ways to reduce their workload and accomplish more every day. It can also be used as a resource for quickly learning new skills or gaining knowledge that you need to run your business.
Here are a few examples of how a savvy entrepreneur can use technology to simplify different parts of their business:
- All-in-one time-and-money tracking like Harvest, Time Doctor or Freshbooks
- Cloud storage and calendar software like Google’s G Suite
- Automated appointment booking and reminder systems like Apptoto
- Do-it-yourself website building and hosting like Squarespace
- Social media marketing and automation like Hootsuite
Be resourceful, and you’ll never run up against something you can’t handle.
Every day as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to make tough decisions. You’ll need to be able to quickly decide on everything from how to price your product or service to where to invest your profits or how to deal with an unforeseen crisis.
Decision-making is vital.
This means you can’t allow yourself to be bogged down by analysis paralysis, and instead, need to find ways to quickly and easily analyze possible scenarios and make the best decision. Allowing yourself to dwell too much on any one decision can become a drain on yourself and your entire business.
Then, you have to be able to move on with your day.
In almost any kind of business, the owner will need to do sales. Even if you’re not selling a product or service directly, you need to be able to sell your business to partners, employees, or customers. You need to be able to speak intelligently and passionately about what you do and why you do it.
As your company grows, your role may change. But especially in the early days, your chief responsibility will be to sell, sell, sell.
Entrepreneur and billionaire Mark Cuban listed the ability to sell as the number-one thing you need to be great at in business.
This means not being afraid to fail or face rejection — it means being able to keep composure in the face of pushback or tense negotiations.
Selling alone may be the characteristic that will determine if your business succeeds or dies from the start.
Businesses change, markets change, industries change.
As an entrepreneur, you should be prepared for change at all times. You should be ready to adapt to what comes your way and tackle new challenges, even if they create barriers.
This means you also need to be willing to change your vision if you determine that it’s not viable. We’ve heard many stories throughout the years about companies that pivoted — or radically changed directions — and have gone on to become some of the largest companies in the world.
Burbn was once a location-based sharing app born in San Francisco. Never heard of it? That’s because the founders realized early on that their plan was flawed. People weren’t using the location features and instead were just sharing photos.
So, they changed direction. Burbn became Instagram. And the rest is history.
When you’re an entrepreneur, all of the chips ultimately fall to you. Whether your company wins or loses will ultimately be attributed to your decisions and actions.
This means you have to be able to not only shoulder that burden but also be willing to take responsibility for all your employees. You need to be dependable — someone they know they can trust.
Being responsible is one of the primary roles of any entrepreneur. If you’re not taking charge, there’s no one behind you to pick up the slack.
7. Open to risk
Entrepreneurship is all about risk. It’s about taking a bet.
You’re betting on yourself, you’re betting on your product or service, and you’re betting on your team if you have one. The point is that this is inherently risky. Whether you’re taking on loans to finance growth, putting your personal savings into the company to get it started, or deciding whether to hire another employee, you will always have risk associated with running a business.
This means that as an entrepreneur, you must embrace that risk — be driven by it and not afraid. It requires you to have confidence enough to face the risk each and every day and keep doing the work that needs to be done.
Each of these characteristics defines the traits of almost every great entrepreneur. These are essential for success.
But keep in mind that many characteristics come in different forms. Your version of having vision may look different from Mark Zuckerberg’s. That doesn’t necessarily mean your version is wrong or that you’re not suited to run a business.
Be honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses, then embrace the things that make your business unique.