Over the past few years, the public perception of entrepreneurs and business owners has massively changed. This can be attributed, partly, to the success of hit TV shows such as The Apprentice, Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den. They have added an allure to a new, more appealing image of the entrepreneur, now seen as a glamorous occupation. There is also the influence of pop stars and cult heroes who have made the transition to entrepreneurial status – as evidenced by the much-publicised business success of many rappers, reality TV and sports stars. So, with the profile of entrepreneurship raised, this has led to a huge mind-shift. People are opening their minds to the possibilities of being an entrepreneur for themselves and starting to look more favourably on what can be a very testing and difficult career change. You might even be on that journey yourself.
Entrepreneurs come in a variety of different forms: some introverts, some extraverts; some creative, others analytical. There is no one fixed way of being. However, there are some entrepreneurial qualities that can’t be denied – and are evident in top-flight entrepreneurs. If you have dreams of setting up your own business or becoming an entrepreneur, my list of 7 qualities every successful entrepreneur should have will definitely help you to determine if it’s the right move for you. However, don’t panic if you feel you’re not abundant in these areas, it doesn’t mean that you should quit pursuing your dreams – with the correct guidance and commitment to personal growth you can develop these characteristics over time gradually excelling in each area.
How do you know if you have the qualities needed to become a successful entrepreneur?
When I was first starting out in business, I had to grow in many areas. I did have some natural ability and demonstrated some of these qualities, but there was still MASSIVE room for growth. I didn’t necessarily have a passion about business initially, but through awareness and curiosity, I developed an increasing interest. As I began to achieve a level of success in the business world, it pushed me to expand my knowledge in the area, and I developed a real passion. Business and personal development are now what I am passionate about – I will talk about them day in, day out. So, you can develop these qualities, just as I did. I know I still need to further develop certain characteristics, to achieve the goals I have set myself.
Having a growth mindset is vital. This is the belief that your intelligence, knowledge and abilities are not fixed: there is always the capacity to learn and to grow. This is very important learning in itself. You never know everything there is to know. You can always develop, further.
Let me now share with you my list of seven qualities every successful entrepreneur should have. And remember – you don’t need to have them as natural, inborn aspects of your personality. You can develop them. Hopefully, they will provide you with some guidance on where best to focus on your development, if you want to become an entrepreneur.
1. Commitment to growth
Be committed to growing. What you achieve in business is a reflection of who you are. To achieve more, you have to be more. So, be committed to expanding your business knowledge, your awareness of your market, to learning new technologies, and to expanding your level of self-awareness, as well. Expand your knowledge and practice of different personal development strategies. Top CEOs and leading entrepreneurs are committed to reading a number of books per year. Aim to read at least one book that will develop you, per month. You need that kind of commitment to learning and growth to hit a higher level in the business world. This is the most important point. Commit to growing and working on yourself, and the other points, below, will follow.
Ambition is your driving force to succeed. An entrepreneur always wants to strive for more. You must have this hunger and fire in the belly that makes you want to become more, to achieve a certain level of success. Ambition is paramount. Entrepreneurship is about continuous evolution – and in the fast-moving modern world we live in, as technology changes, we all need to keep up with new technological advances and innovation, and have the drive and ambition to harness its potential to drive ourselves and our businesses forward. Ambition is a positive force that gives you the energy to succeed.
You have to be passionate about what you do – otherwise, why do it, and why put energy into it? Some people go into business because they see an opportunity, or they think it’s a quick way to make a lot of money – but if they don’t like their industry, this is a recipe for disaster. Without a burning passion for what you do, you fall into the ‘job’ trap that so many people are in – they dislike their jobs, but have to work, so they condemn themselves to a life of drudgery or even misery. You have to have passion for what you’re doing – for your business. But don’t worry – if you don’t feel passionate, this is definitely something that can be cultivated. If you can build a business around your passion, that’s great. But you can also build a passion for your business.
I highly recommend reading my article on finding your purpose and increase your happiness.
There is no-one to tell you what to do, get you going, encourage you to put in extra hours, and achieve your goals. Just you. You can’t rely on an outside force to drive you – you have to do it yourself. Be prepared to take the initiative and make your own decisions – don’t put anyone else in control. You have to have the attitude and tenacity to take the bull by the horns. Whatever you achieve is the result of your own daily actions. Your life – and your business – is in your hands alone.
5. People skills
People skills are essential – you are dealing with people all the time. You need to know how to communicate effectively – to influence your teams and clients, to engage with your service partners, to build positive relationships. Some people do this naturally, but it is a learned skill. Examine how great ‘people persons’ do it (learn by watching real-life role models, from books or from training), and replicate it. Develop good relationships, and people will deliver on your requests. You need to know how to handle particular situations, like disgruntled customers. It is an art and science you can learn.
Your glass has to be half full. Some people believe they are ‘born pessimists’ – but this is not the case. You might be in difficulty, but eventually you’ll reframe it: ‘It could have been worse’ or ‘nobody died’. You can learn to see the positive. Great entrepreneurs have hope and optimism, which builds resilience. You’re going to experience challenges, and hurdles will present themselves, but tell yourself (until you know) that there’s light at the end of the tunnel– it’s OK, and things will work out in your favour. Optimism is essential – have and maintain a positive vision that is more compelling and attractive than what you’re experiencing at the moment, to propel you forward. Know that there will be a positive outcome – and you will make it happen.
Entrepreneurs have to be creative – both in ideas and in finding solutions. A lot of people focus on problems, which traps and prevents them from finding solutions. They continue to experience whatever is the focus of their attention. Elite entrepreneurs are more solutions-focused. When a challenge presents itself, they ask, ‘What are the possible solutions? How can we pivot or manoeuvre this? What do we need to do? What is our learning experience? How can we implement this, to improve? How will we change how we work to better deliver our products/services?’ This is how an entrepreneur thinks: opportunity-focused and solution-focused. When challenges and problems occur, they create the service, product or improvement to fill that void and solve that problem/need.
Although I’ve shared some qualities of entrepreneurs, there are many more I haven’t touched upon. Start working on the elements you need, and take action. Learn how to improve within these areas.
For example, think how you can mould yourself into becoming more of a self-starter – e.g. become more disciplined, set schedules. As I mentioned – number 1 is the key to all of these: if you are committed to personal growth, the rest of these qualities will evolve as you work on yourself, your knowledge and your skills. This is your starter for seven: focus on your growth: start reading, watching videos, seeing how elite performers, leaders and entrepreneurs demonstrate the qualities you need. Make small incremental changes in your own life, and you will grow in all of these areas, increasing your success.
They are all key life skills, but they are not taught in mainstream education. Self-educate, practise them in both your business life and personal life, and reap the results.