What Makes a Great 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.
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 to question the status quo and know that they can set a better benchmark. No matter in which 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.
Many entrepreneurs will, at some point, need to seek funding. There are various ways in which this can be done, such as crowdfunding and obtaining shareholders. However, this can only be successful if you project characteristics that allow potential backers to perceive you in a particular way.
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 contributing editor of Inc.com says, ‘Edison wasn’t the first person to invent the light bulb, but he was the first person to see how 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 having the ability to see 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 has the 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.
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 that 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 as well as 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 some 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. It’s unrealistic, but that’s the point. So, if you only turnover R1.5 million, you’re close to your original R2 million target. In contrast, if you set R1 million turnover goal and only achieve R100,000, something is clearly wrong with your business.’
From a financial perspective, it may be best to sit down and chat with an independent financial adviser. He/she will help you plan a roadmap, explicitly designed for you to hit your targets at the right time in the journey of your business.
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) know exactly how to take good care of your employees. They are your most significant investment, and if treated well, will provide you with a favourable return on investment (ROI).
From a holistic perspective, accept that things won’t always run smoothly; there will 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 to tackle whatever lies ahead. Remember, it’s only under immense pressure that a diamond can emerge from coal. Go for it, breakthrough the barriers and grab a piece of your desired market share now!