UPDATED: What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?
SUMMARY. Starting a business, especially today requires resilience as you traverse through competitive markets, often needing to make quick decisions based on situational cues. In short, being an entrepreneur requires specific personality traits as well as having exceptional emotional intelligence. Are you a natural-born entrepreneur?
Starting a business, especially today, requires resilience; navigating your way through competitive markets can seem like an insurmountable task – but it’s not impossible. Successful entrepreneurs possess traits that fuel a never-say-die mindset and work ethic. In this article, we’ll discuss what it takes to be a prosperous entrepreneur.
Personal qualities an entrepreneur should possess
Anand Kapoor, the founder of Midcom Group, says that ‘Entrepreneurship is a true vocation; it’s not for the faint of heart, or the easily intimidated. You could say it’s almost a calling– you’re prepared to dedicate your life to an idea, or you’re not.’
There is no linear path to success; it’s convoluted, and your resolve will be tested continually. It’s recommended that you avidly read the opinions and experiences of established entrepreneurs and apply the knowledge to achieve your business goals.
An entrepreneur has an innate fascination with questioning the status quo and knowing that they can set a better benchmark. No matter how the industry you choose to operate, the challenge is the same: you’ve identified a problem and have found a novel way to solve it – this is how you grab a gap in the market.
Self-assurance throughout your journey serves as the backbone to your success in building a profitable business. The trick is to check your ego at the door; there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance – the latter will eventually prove pivotal, a potential fall from grace.
You can digest as much knowledge as you want, but it must be put into action to make a difference. Entrepreneurs can see the big picture: not only ‘what the business currently is’, but ‘what the business can be’; in other words, they have a natural holistic perception of their journey.
As the contributing editor of Inc.com says, ‘Edison wasn’t the first person to invent the light bulb, but he was the first person to show how it could be used. He had a gift for pragmatism, and it’s something you can emulate.’
Empathy can be seen as an extension of seeing a societal problem and finding a solution. An entrepreneur has an intrinsic nature of putting themselves into their audience’s shoes, ‘experiencing’ the issue with all their senses and realising how to build a business that will attract customers.
Elon Musk says that entrepreneurship is like ‘eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ You need to have a high pain threshold which can manifest in many ways, particularly financially and personally. It can be a lonely road.
You’re going to need to be a jack of all trades, juggling your overall vision; the necessity for capital acquisition as well as ensuring your business is legally compliant are just two elements on your shoulders. It’s an advanced-level balancing act. The key is to have self-discipline to put in the hours and compartmentalise each task. By doing this, you’ll eventually reach a stage when you can hire employees to take on the various job requirements. The six abovementioned personal characteristics, combined with a relentless drive to succeed, are vital to steer you through obstacles that will occur along the way.
There are six qualities that an entrepreneur requires to successfully start, sustain and make a business profitable. They include:
- Curiosity: An entrepreneur has an innate fascination with questioning the status quo and knowing that they can provide a better product and/or service than their competitors.
- Confidence: An entrepreneur needs to be self-assured, but not arrogant. It serves as the backbone to your success in building a profitable business. The key is to check your ego at the door.
- Pragmatism: Entrepreneurs can see the big picture: not only ‘what the business currently is’, but ‘what the business can be.
- Empathy: An entrepreneur has an inherent nature of putting themselves into their audience’s shoes, ‘experiencing’ the issue with all their senses and realising how to build a customer-centric business.
- Self-discipline: You need to have a high pain threshold which can manifest in many ways, particularly financially and personally. You’re going to need to be a jack of all trades, juggling your overall vision at the beginning of your journey.
An entrepreneur must be able to sense particular cues in any situation and use their strengths to obtain the most favourable outcome. This may not always work, but it’s how they react when their back is against the wall that will make them stronger as they move forward.
According to workforce solutions company, PSI, “the concept of “situational strength,” which is based largely upon the work of psychologist Walter Mischel. While he was a strong proponent of personality traits, Mischel believed we could better understand personality by considering how it manifested itself in different situations.”
Learn valuable lessons from mistakes
You’ll make mistakes; it’s a reality. However, you’ll learn valuable lessons that will mould your perspectives about entrepreneurship. One of the fundamental mistakes many aspiring business owners make is letting errors in judgement break their drive and sap up energy. Mistakes are beacons aimed to push you onto a less-travelled path; the reason for it will become apparent in the future.
Spending too little or too much money
An article published on Entrepreneur South Africa comments, ‘There are two mindsets I tend to see among new entrepreneurs: Either “You have to spend money to make money” or “I’ll spend the bare minimum until I have some decent cash flow.”’
Once again, it’s a fragile balancing act. Many new businesses, for example, will tend to spend minimal amounts on marketing when, in reality, specific marketing mechanisms such as SEO, content creation, and analytics and tracking are vital for online visibility.
Trying to achieve unrealistic goals
As mentioned earlier, having an idea of the bigger picture is essential, but you need to set short and medium-term goals as well. Trying to shoot too far, too quickly, can have catastrophic consequences. Ajay Wasserman, Founder and CEO of the Fio Group, provides valuable insight ‘when setting goals multiply everything by 10. For example, if your goal is to turnover R2 million per year, set your goal for R20 million. So, if you only turnover R1.5 million, you’re close to your original R2 million target. In contrast, if you set a R1 million turnover goal and only achieve R100,000, something is clearly wrong with your business.’ It’s unrealistic, but that’s the point.
It may be best to sit down and chat with an independent financial adviser from a financial perspective. They will help you plan a roadmap explicitly designed for you to hit your targets at the right time in the journey of your business.
Please take a few minutes to gain more insights from Ajay by subscribing and watching his informative videos on his new YouTube channel. In this video, Ajay gives you valuable tips about how to register a business.
Not investing in your employees
Whether employers like it or not, job seekers are more tech-savvy than ever due to the advancement of technology; they have many avenues through which to access critical information about your business. Your reputation, staff turnover rate, reviews and overall success can be found in numerous ways. So, ensure everyone (from yourself to your managers) knows exactly how to take good care of your employees. If treated well, they are your most significant investment and will provide you with a favourable return on investment (ROI).
An entrepreneur must be able to sense particular cues in any situation and use their strengths to obtain the most favourable outcome. Situations that may arise include
- Learning valuable lessons from mistakes
- Spending too little or too much money
- Trying to achieve unrealistic goals
- Not investing in your employees
From a holistic perspective, accept that things won’t always run smoothly; there will be times of stress and self-doubt. However, if you genuinely have the attributes of an entrepreneur inside you, you’ll find a way to ‘squeeze success from a stone’. More than anything, it’s your unrelenting grit that will keep you focused on tackling whatever lies ahead. Remember, it’s only under immense pressure that a diamond can emerge from coal.