Traits of a successful Entrepreneur
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
The entrepreneurial journey is filled with challenges, that can make or break an entrepreneur. Though there are different types of entrepreneurs, some basic traits seem to be helpful in any situation and would be an important thing to develop in any aspiring entrepreneur. It is possible to learn, practice and improve these traits and how to balance them with other sometime opposing ones. In this article we will try to better understand these traits and what can be done to strengthen them, in the context of two dimensions.
The actionable, day-to-day dimension of Resilience – Flexibility
Resilience in the face of adversity is crucial. Entrepreneurs hear more No’s then Yes’s, have people doubt their idea and their abilities, have customers leave and investors reject them, and through all that they must endure. As Churchill summarized it clearly, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” The history of almost any successful entrepreneur or leader will show insurmountable challenges they had to overcome and persist through.
Resilience and persistence should not be confused with stubbornness and need to be balanced with the ability to learn from the No’s and be flexible enough to adapt.
Resilience can usually be developed through trial, that is, learning to find the strength inside and get up again after every set back. A clear case of practice makes perfect.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” said Albert Einstein. No startup ends up with exactly the same idea it started with. Market changes, circumstances change, resources change, and through all that an entrepreneur must have the flexibility to modify their plans and make the necessary adjustments to make their idea feasible.
As mentioned, flexibility has to be balanced with persistence, knowing when to be flexible and pivot and when to stick to your course. Being aware of this will help express it.
So how do we combine the two? Resilience keeps us determined on reaching our goal, while flexibility allows us to realistically examine the circumstances and adapt our actions when required, to achieve this goal. The lean startup change framework can assist here. Vision seldom changes, we pivot our strategy when required for achieving our vision, and on the next level we optimize our product rapidly to adapt it to our strategy.
The more abstract, future-looking dimension of Vision - Passion
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do” said Steve Jobs. In order to be able to stand the many hardships on the path and stay dedicated, entrepreneurs need to be driven by an internal desire for change and contribution, and a real sense of purpose. Passion comes from the heart, it is the strong desire to do that thing we chose to do. Passion should be for solving the problem we set out to solve, not necessarily for the solution, as it can change in time.
Though passion is crucial, it has to be balanced with fact-based understanding of market need, not letting love for an idea mask reality.
Finding something one is passionate about requires an active, honest and aware inward examination, aligning what you genuinely want to do in life with the actual activities your work requires.
At the core of any startup is an idea with a vision of how the world could and should be. Having a clear vision, which one can gather people around and direct them towards a common goal is crucial.
Vision requires recognizing opportunities in the world and developing new ideas or improving existing ones around them. It needs constant examination and adaptation to changing circumstances.
So how do we combine the two? Vision comes from the head, it should offer a realistic enough picture of how the world could be, in order to turn our passion into something achievable. Passion without vision is like an engine with no stirring, while vision with no passion is like stirring without thrust.
As a summary note, there are many traits that will help an Entrepreneur, or for that matter any manager or leader, succeed. These include a sense of self belief with all the ups and downs, decisiveness, action orientation, positiveness, ability to motivate oneself and others, modesty, ability to listen, ability to learn and more. In this article we focused specifically on two dimensions that seem basic and crucial especially for entrepreneurs; Balancing between resilience and flexibility in our daily activities, and between vision and passion looking forward.