Entrepreneurship is a rare thing. Not everyone will have the diverse combination of traits and skills that make a successful entrepreneur - one who is dedicated to their innovations, with resolute persistence and passion that sets them apart from the competition and brings their ideas to life.
It is true that becoming a successful entrepreneur is not as simple as it sounds. In the US, studies have demonstrated that the fail rate of new companies is 50% within the first five years (evidently not great odds). However, this isn’t to say that it is impossible. Think of any entrepreneur - whether you look at Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg or someone else, the success of an entrepreneur almost always comes down to the same key factors.
When it comes down to it, there are really only a handful of things that make these people different from the rest. And, when you consider the significance of what some entrepreneurs have achieved with these general traits, taking them into consideration feels like a no-brainer.
It is all well and good to list these factors, but knowing how they can be put into action is where their real benefits lie.
Being passionate, enthusiastic, and excited about what you are doing might be the easiest or most difficult trait on this list to fulfill. Rather than developing a trait like this, it comes down to you as a person, and what your entrepreneurial plan and direction means to you.
In the mind of an entrepreneur, passion should mean having a strong desire to work hard and succeed without it actually feeling like work. This isn’t to say that the journey of an entrepreneur is ever easy, but if you love what you do and your entrepreneurial goals overlap with your hobbies, working on your business in your own time and putting in the extra effort will come easily. This strong desire to work and succeed as an entrepreneur will play a huge part in rising above the competition and differentiating yourself from the others.
While success depends greatly on your commitment to the task, creativity and innovation are almost just as important. You may be passionate about your idea, but if you can’t share this passion with others, how are you going to convince them that it is a good one? This is where creativity and innovation come in - these traits are paramount in ensuring that an entrepreneur can spot a gap in the market, differentiate, bring new ideas to the market, and present them in a way that resonates with the target audience.
Not only do these factors underpin a successful idea and it’s communication; they also mean that when problems inevitably arise, either in day to day operations or regarding the feasibility of your product as a whole, you are able to come up with unique and effective solutions that continue to shape what you are creating.
Historically, entrepreneurs have been known to take wild risks that pay off. However, whilst it might look like these are blind decisions that give great results, they are usually the result of self discipline and measured thinking. This is why self discipline is key in making business decisions and taking risks. Knowing when to make measured, controlled actions, and being decisive in making these decisions, will ensure that your business doesn’t crash and burn. This leads us to the next hallmark of a successful entrepreneur; preparation and foresight.
In making decisions that pay off and successfully doing things that defy the business norm, preparation and foresight is key. This means setting clear goals and expectations, and working hard to achieve them. A successful entrepreneur will be decisive, action oriented, and realistic when developing a plan looking forward - you need to consider any possible setbacks and hurdles, not underestimating the work you will have to put in to achieve your goals.
Preparation means being ready for any problems that may arise - as an entrepreneur, there are a huge number of obstacles that might come into play. Being comprehensively prepared, even regarding things like having an emergency fund (more information here) and an overall control plan will ensure that you are not forced into difficult situations when things get rough.
Persistence, determination and competitiveness might sound similar to passion - but whilst you may be enthusiastic about what you are doing, having a competitive mindset is crucial in ensuring that you can overtake your competitors and stay on top. Entrepreneurs will need to work unbelievably hard in the early stages of their business in order to become competitive and secure their desired position within the market.
It might take months or years for a business to take off. Remaining determined and motivated by your competitors will ensure that your hard work pays off.
The final hallmark that is paramount in ensuring your success as an entrepreneur is having a willingness to learn, and self awareness of your skills. This is important for two reasons - not only do you need this trait in order to be constantly innovating and learning how to stay ahead of your competitors, but it also allows you to understand the situations in which you need to delegate your responsibilities in order to maintain efficiency and effectiveness in your business. This is the trait that will ensure that you continue to live and breathe what you are passionate about, and will mean that you are always working with people who are right for the job.
Ultimately, with a prepared and well thought out approach to entrepreneurship, you will be able to bring your ideas to life and watch them succeed. Becoming an entrepreneur is an intimidating endeavor, but overcoming these psychological obstacles is a significant first step that will set you up for success.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.