The Makings of a Successful Entrepreneur
What is unique about entrepreneurs? What makes them tick? What are the personal traits and backgrounds of people who become successful entrepreneurs?
Many books and websites provide self-scoring tests that you can use to assess your fitness for entrepreneurial life. Ideas are important but rarely are as important as personal background, motivation and attitude. Here are 5 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs:
1 Comfortable to stretch the rules
To get what is needed e.g. capital, skilled employees, contracts etc. One example of this is a two-person direct marketing start-up – VC backed – that desperately needed 20 experienced marketers – and quickly. But why would experienced professionals leave a top-notch company to join a start up that did not even have an office? To overcome this problem, the entrepreneurs placed an advert in a major business magazine that described their little outfit as a “fast growing multinational company”. Then they rented an office in a 5-star hotel for the day as an interviewing site. More than 1,000 people responded to their advert and they got what they needed – by being resourceful.
2 Prepared to make powerful enemies
It is smart to pursue opportunities that will not put you in competition with a powerful rival – a big company that has many resources. But this is not always possible. Michael Dell, for example, went up against IBM and other big PC makers when he began his company. But he did so with a twist: direct to consumer sales.
3 Have the patience to start small
Most new ventures, no matter how well-planned, are experiments. Starting small gives you the opportunity to test and fine-tune a commercial concept before you lock yourself into a business formula. Starting small gives you a chance to sense how customers respond to your product, its price and the way it is served.
4 Willing to shift strategies quickly
Tthe future never unfolds as we expected it to. Competitors respond to our initiatives with unanticipated changes in price, products and incentives. New opportunities and new markets for products appear out of nowhere. So if you stick stubbornly to the initial strategy, you may find yourself in trouble. Smart entrepreneurs recognise that new venture gains credibility more by simply surviving than by following its original strategy. They quickly recognise when they have to change course and they seldom hesitate to do so.
5 Know how to close a deal
No matter how tough the market or small the transaction, you must know exactly what you must give up – and what you can get away with – while finalising deals under pressure. Compared with established corporate managers, the entrepreneur deal maker is comfortable with a risk and is not be intimidated by a shortage of information. To them, this is the difference between survival and bankruptcy. They are so close to the edge of failure that every deal has major consequences.
Give some thought to where you stand in terms of these entrepreneurial characteristics. Are you comfortable stretching the rules? Are you willing to go up against powerful competitors if necessary? Are you prepared to start small and see how the game plays out before going full speed ahead?
If your initial plan runs into a brick wall, are you sufficiently flexible and humble to say – “This is not working, I need to try something else”? Are you the kind of person who recognises what must be done – and then does it? If you answered yes to these questions, it is likely that you are entrepreneurial material. If you answered no to more than one, consider how that response could hold you back.
Post originally published via ICAEW Business Advice Service – click here