19 Feb The 5 Core Characteristics of Great Entrepreneurs
I’ve worked with and mentored a lot of entrepreneurs over the years. And whilst we all love to analyse the theories and strategies that we can learn from others to make things work better in your business as for an entrepreneur, we often forget that there are also character traits that we could look to develop as well. You can read all the books in the world, but theories are useless unless you learn to adopt some of these characteristics:
Most entrepreneurs are naturally a little ballsy, but it’s not enough just to come up with a great idea or to start a business — you have to be consistently bold enough to stand by your idea, to keep pushing forward even when it seems like you’re making a monumental waste of effort, and when everyone around you just doesn’t see a happy ending. You also need to be bold enough to realise when you are stuck on a dead end road and it's time to do something different.
You also have to be bold in putting yourself out there. Many people avoid doing this because they don’t want to feel sleazy or like they’re hard selling people, but unless you can get over this, nobody’s going to know about you or care about you.
Finally, you have to be bold in asking for what you want. Of course it’s totally terrifying to ask someone for something that you really want, but you will be amazed by how often people actually do help if you tell them how and if you ask the right way. For instance, Seth Godin had no idea who I was when I emailed him asking him for a testimonial for my book. But because I was bold enough to put myself out there and because I wrote to him in a way that appealed to him, I was able to get an incredibly valuable endorsement. A good sense of humour always helps too!
I know I’m surprising absolutely no one when I say that things move fast as an entrepreneur. To be a great entrepreneur, you’ve got to be able to work fast and still keep the quality of your output high.
That’s not to say that you can’t do great things if you like to think or act more slowly — but if you are like that, then you’ll probably need to get a partner or a group that will balance you out and force you to act. Otherwise you’ll likely stagnate.
A lot of people mix up being flexible with being flighty. I’m not saying that you should just dabble in things or totally scrap a project at the first sign of trouble. You need to be focused and unshakeable on your big goals, but in parallel with that, you have to be able to be flexible with how things unfold day to day.
Being too rigid will cause you to lose a ton of opportunities that come up along the way, because you will be too focused on following your planned steps instead of recognizing opportunities that could get you to your end goal even better. So learn to pivot, and be flexible when you need to.
Having a sense of perspective is absolutely critical, because working as an entrepreneur usually feels a little crazy and because you’re going to fail hideously at least once. If you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you can’t take a step back, see the humor in situations, or dispassionately look at your failures to see what you can learn from them, then this probably isn’t the path for you.
Finally, you’ve absolutely got to be resilient, certainly in the face of failure, but also just in terms of daily life as an entrepreneur. It can be really hard when you’re working for yourself — people don’t really get what you do every day and sometimes they might even think you're just ‘messing about'. Resilience is what keeps you going, both when you get hit with a big failure or just the everyday crisis, so it’s essential that you learn how to bounce back.