Ted Turner, the media mogul, once quipped, “My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.” All kidding aside, the root of many of the world’s business empires can be traced back to a dream and the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurship. There are many divergent paths one can take on the road to entrepreneurial success. However, in studying successful entrepreneurs, consistent themes emerge.
Successful entrepreneurs commonly possess the following traits:
- Passion about their work – A passion for your business will often blur the line between work and play. While there is no getting around hard work, being passionate about your work makes it more enjoyable and less of a grind. This is very important, since being an entrepreneur does not stop when you leave the office for the day. Initially, you do not have to be overly concerned with monetizing your passion. If you do not have anything you are passionate about, then you should cultivate your interests in order to develop something to be passionate about. Expose yourself to new experiences, ideas, and things, and soon your passions will be evident.
- Calculated risk-takers – Nothing worthwhile comes without risk. Gathering information and performing other types of due diligence will help you reduce risk to a manageable level. Some people reach an impasse when needing to make an important decision involving risk and become paralyzed by inaction. In these situations, simply accept the fact that risk cannot be entirely avoided. Secondly, consider the potential rewards in making decisions or taking actions. We often become so focused on the downside risk we prevent ourselves from seeing the upside. Making good decisions and taking calculated risks are skills that can be developed and enhanced over time. Similar to developing a good physique, “decision making muscles” will develop with repetition and regular use.
- Dogged determination – Successful entrepreneurs often possess an unshakeable determination that allows them to be undaunted by obstacles. Obstacles should be viewed as challenges that, if conquered, will develop your problem solving skills, instead of insurmountable barriers to success. Being solution oriented focuses your resources to overcome these challenges, while being fixated on the problem wastes precious energy. What people of lesser determination view as failure, successful entrepreneurs treat as mere setbacks, necessary steps in the process of realizing their goals. As the Japanese proverb urges, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
- Long-term vision – Part of having long-term vision includes developing long-term goals. Effective goal setting will include breaking down goals into short and intermediate range milestones. Also, it is important to put your goals into writing. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the powerful yet simple step of writing down your goals. Doing so makes it easier to measure and monitor your progress, allows you to hold yourself accountable, and provides further motivation upon the achievement of each milestone. If the path you are on will not get you to your long-term goals, no matter how much effort you expend, then alter your path and modify your approach. Having long-term vision is akin to seeing the forest and not just the trees. It is easy to lose sight of your long-term goals amidst hectic daily routines, so stay focused and do not give up on your goals at the first sign of trouble.
- Desire to learn – Having an insatiable thirst for knowledge is another trait common to successful entrepreneurs. Knowledge equates to continuous improvement, whether it manifests itself as a more efficient way to manufacture a product or something seemingly unrelated like improving a golf swing. Constant improvement results in new and creative ways of solving a problem. Successful entrepreneurs realize that competition and business in general changes quickly and that continuous improvement is the only way to maintain competitive advantages.
By studying the traits and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, we can all benefit. If you are an entrepreneur or desire to be one, the benefits are obvious. Even if you are not an entrepreneur, developing and incorporating their skill sets can significantly improve your personal and professional life.