An Entrepreneur is an individual who starts and runs a business with limited resources and planning, taking account of all the risks and rewards of his or her business venture. The business idea is usually a new innovation, product or service, rather than an existing business model.
7 Traits of Incredibly Successful Entrepreneurs
Eric T. Wagner , CONTRIBUTOR
I write about the secrets of startups and entrepreneurs.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
First, what exactly is an entrepreneur?
Well, Wikipedia defines it like this:
“An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.”
And this would be kind of correct.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say there is an “entrepreneur” stuck in a job or maybe school, just itching to bust out and start their own business. Do we wait to call them an entrepreneur after they’ve started their own business?
For example, before Steve Jobs or Bill Gates dropped out of college, would anyone have defined them as entrepreneurs?
Looking back, I would say these guys were probably born entrepreneurs.
Now did they pop out at birth and immediately set up a lemonade stand in the delivery room of the hospital charging the nurses 50 cents a cup?
Well, in reality — probably not.
But who would deny they were pumped full of the entrepreneurial “mindset” since birth? I wouldn’t deny it. Not one bit.
So what’s the point? Well, the point is you can be an entrepreneur in mind and heart, but be stuck at the moment waiting for your time in the spotlight.
If this is you, then yes — go ahead and call yourself an entrepreneur. The sooner you just admit it, and then work to do something about it, the better we’ll all be.
So, whether you’re an entrepreneur in-waiting, or you’re a full blown rhino of a business guru charging through the jungle, I’ve got a list of killer traits for you.
The question is: How many of these do you have? Well, let’s find out…
1. Abounding Curiosity
Yes, curiosity. And no, not like “curiosity killed the cat”. Goodness. Let’s not get carried away here. You don’t want to do something to get yourself killed.
But if you think about it – entrepreneurs are curious little devils, aren’t they?
Every true entrepreneur I’ve ever met has been full of curiosity.
Always wondering about things. Taking stuff apart to see how it works. Asking people questions about their likes and dislikes. Questioning why we keep doing things the same old way when maybe there is a better way. And on and on.
So, are you a curious one? In my mind, you’ve got to be.
And here’s the fun part on curiosity:
Curiosity means asking questions. Asking questions inspires learning. Learning births total domain knowledge and customer understanding. Total domain knowledge and customer understanding leads to one rockin’ entrepreneur.
2. Bursting with Creativity
So what’s a match made in heaven? Sing with me…
“Curiosity and creativity sittin’ in a tree… k-i-s-s-i-n-g….. first comes love, then comes marriage….”
Well, you get the point. They’re like two peas in a pod. Curiosity + Creativity.
Not only do you have to be curious as an entrepreneur, you must also be creative. Isn’t that the essence of entrepreneurism? You know, to create stuff?
New products. New solutions. New ways. Willing to think of all possibilities. Almost like a child.
Seriously, our little children are more creative then we are sometimes. You know, drawing cows jumping over the moon and making play-houses out of sticks and rocks.
Just resolve to be like them.
Chatting with top-dog entrepreneur Sam Blackman (Co-Founder and CEO of Elemental Technologies) recently, he told me flat-out:
“The ability to be creative as an entrepreneur is a must”.
And the really cool thing about this marriage of curiosity and creativity?
As you become more curious by asking questions and learning, it actually opens your mind to creativity.
So have no fear if you suffer a little in the creativity department — just start being more curious and voilà; up pops your creative juices. See — a match made in heaven.
3. Clarity of Vision
We’ve all heard this one: “Well, that guy is just a real visionary. Entrepreneurial genius at its best.”
Big picture vision is a funny thing. I think you either have it, or you don’t. You either see beyond the trees and into the forest, or you don’t.
You simply need vision as an entrepreneur. And more importantly? Clarity around that vision.
Crucial to have a crystal clear vision of who you are; what you want to do; and where you want to go.
And the funny thing about getting clarity around your vision? That’s where it starts. In the beginning. Just you and your clear vision.
Think of it as a beacon of light. Guiding you on your journey. And without it? Smack dab in no-man’s land a thousand miles from where you wanted to be.
And believe me, that’s a bummer.
4. Ability to Communicate
You can have the brightest idea on the planet. The next great invention to rival Edison. An idea so powerful it blows anything Steve Jobs ever came up with away.
But if you can’t communicate it? Might as well pack your bags and go home.
The ability to communicate effectively is huge for you and I as entrepreneurs. We must be clear; concise; easy to understand. Both in writing and verbally.
Why is this so important? Well, because communication affects influence. Communication affects relationships. Communication affects results.
The really cool thing about communication is you can learn how to do it better. It’s a necessary trait, but one you can master with practice.
Not a good communicator? Practice starts at 8am tomorrow morning my friend…
5. Leadership Acumen
Just like we discovered from Brandon Mills – you and I can’t be successful as one man bands. Now yes, we can call ourselves “solopreneurs”. But are we really? Are we really able to do everything ourselves?
I think not. Even with no employees, you definitely have a team of others working on your behalf.
Vendors, partners, mentors, contractors, and more.
You must be able to lead them. Now again the great thing about the leadership trait is you can learn to do better. If you stink as a leader, don’t fret. You can learn how to be great. You can learn how to lead with fire and passion.
Again, practice starts tomorrow morning at 8. 🙂
6. Loving Risk and Taking Action
Now it’s getting fun. Risk.
Wow. Love that word. Just saying it brings a whole host of feelings…
Maybe you feel excited when you hear it? Sitting there conjuring up images of fast cars and base jumping. Get your heart pounding? Can’t wait to strap it on and feel the rush of adrenalin pouring through your blood? Yikes. You’re a shoe-in for an entrepreneur.
Or, perhaps the feeling crawling up the back of your neck is one of fear: Fear of stepping out. Fear of making a fool of yourself. Fear of risking — and then losing it all.
Here’s the bottom line: Your tolerance for risk has to be low. It doesn’t matter if you figure out ways to “mitigate” risk (which you should), or you spend 10 years in the planning stage of business (plan yes, 10 years – no), in the end; you have to get off your tail and take action. Period.
Entrepreneurs take risks. They take action. Each one may have a slightly different risk meter, but when the time comes; they step out of their comfort zone and risk through taking action.
I mean seriously — your company is not going to build itself while you sit there on the couch eating bon-bons.
So get up; throw the bon-bons in the trash; and do something. Will you?
7. Tenacious Beyond Belief
True entrepreneurs never, never, never quit. Never.
Like a bull-dog latched onto a bone. Like a mountain lion with its jaws around the neck of a deer. You’re not prying any of this loose. And the same goes for trying to hold a good entrepreneur down. Not going to happen.
Tenacity is the crème de la crème trait you must have as an entrepreneur. My VC buddy Dino told me straight up several months ago:
“The number one trait you find in all successful entrepreneurs is tenacity. Just the sheer will to keep going, even when things look impossible.”
Are things going to look impossible for you as an entrepreneur? You better believe it. Will you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel? Absolutely. But do you need to fight off the urge to quit and keep pressing on? YES!
Here’s the deal on this last trait: You can probably squeeze by with mediocre levels of each of the other traits on this list. But if you’re a day late and dollar short in the tenacity department? You’re as good as done. You’re pretty much dry toast.
Why? Well because you quit silly. You gave up. You handed your entrepreneur badge and gun back in.
So keep fighting when you feel like quitting. Be tenacious. You’ll get there. You’ll be the best entrepreneur you can be. Right?
Alright, time to tally the results. How did you do? Any of these resonate with you? Did you score big on all of them? Or did I leave any important traits off the list?
Let’s chat about it below, shall we? 🙂
Oh, if you don’t know me, I’m Eric. Husband, father & life-long entrepreneur…
If you’re an entrepreneur, let’s hook up. Seriously. Here’s a killer formula:
Your Wisdom + My Wisdom = More Success
My email is: eric at mightywisemedia dot com. Shoot me yours right here and let’s connect, okay? Together we can really nail this thing. 🙂
(You can find me hanging out at Mighty Wise Media on Google+ or on Twitter @MightyWiseMedia.)