In today’s world, it seems like everyone has an idea for the next big thing. The success of ABC’s Shark Tank has spurred new shows like West Texas Investors Club, Food Fortunes and The Profit – all showcasing entrepreneurs and their 10-minute pitch to land a million-dollar deal. Yes, some ideas are less than stellar, but the ones that make it all the way have one thing in common: an entrepreneur with the chops to stand in front of the panel and get things done.
If you are considering jumping into entrepreneurship, consider these seven traits that make entrepreneurs successful:
Not afraid to take risks
A lot of budding entrepreneurs understand that there is risk involved with a new venture. However, they may not know just how many there are until they are knee deep in the process. Sure, there is always the financial risks: how to get funding, cost to launch, etc. But what often goes overlooked is the risks associated with the “all in” dive. You can only do so much while still working a nine to five. So, the biggest risks come to play when you go from getting your feet wet to doing a full out cannon ball. Timing is everything, but the best entrepreneurs are ready to go head first as soon as possible – with fear and all.
Never stop learning
Entrepreneurs wear many hats. At any given time, you are the founder, secretary, accountant and sales department all in the same day. There is a reason why these stories are so appealing to the rest of us. We love to hear how the hot new tech company around the corner started in their mother’s basement eating Ramen for three years straight. It’s inspiring. The truth is, most entrepreneurs know one thing going in: they want their product to thrive. The rest is all ‘on the job training.’ Good entrepreneurs know how to take a sales call, execute an email campaign and how to tweak plans based on analytics. To be a truly great entrepreneur, you have to not only adapt an always-learning attitude, you also need enough confidence to keep going, yet enough humility to know there’s always more learning to do.
Successful entrepreneurs are always asking “how?” and “why?” Inquisitiveness is extremely common among successful entrepreneurs. Investigate how the world works and where things tie together. This will strengthen your ability to see things with a fresh perspective. Learn from achievers. Study and model their behaviors, both personally and professionally. Examine their lives and accomplishments. Note the uncommon traits that helped make them great. Consider what you would do differently if you were in their position. Ask questions. Examine the competition. Don’t copy, instead look for new and better ways to do things. View your surroundings as inspiration for value creation, and your failures as lessons for growth.
This one is often the most confusing for an outsider. When a problem occurs, an entrepreneur sees it as a learning opportunity. Others may see failure, but the best entrepreneurs use lessons taken from each situation to develop and refine ideas. Measure everything in an effort to be optimistic, and adopt the mantra that data will always give you the clearest picture on just how far you’ve come. Stay positive, ignore the nay-sayers, and know that there is always a solution to every complication, you just have to keep looking.
Agile in any situation
Even the best business plans need a little adjusting along the way. And this is tough for entrepreneurs because they’ve spent money, sweat and tears planning. The success or failure of a company can often be determined by the ability to adapt to change. If you are adaptable, you will be able to respond to situations quickly, with less resistance getting in the way. So when a wrench gets tossed in, assess the situation and adapt accordingly. Entrepreneurs who are willing to admit they were wrong but remain relentless in their quest for the right answers are the ones who succeed time and time again.
Network like a pro
One thing entrepreneurs know is that you never know who you will meet that can actually benefit your business. Networking skills are essential for entrepreneurs to grow their circle of influence. Growing your network doesn’t mean having a list of everyone you meet added to your CRM. It means making meaningful connections to others in the community and your industry as a whole. Make it your goal to build long term relationships that are beneficial. And remember that it works both ways. Networking shouldn’t always be about you, you should also help others that need introductions, advisement, etc.
Be a natural leader
Dee Hock,founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa said, “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers.”
As an effective entrepreneur, you must guide and motivate your team, empower them and lean on them for support. It is critical to share your vision in a way that inspires. Clear, compelling communication is key. By developing focus and involvement for the team, entrepreneurs have a greater chance of realizing their visions of greatness. Create your vision, your compelling call to action, and model it consistently.
Don’t panic if you fall short in some of these areas. The great thing about having a thirst for entrepreneurship is that you also have a thirst to succeed. There are many resources for entrepreneurs to learn and sharpen the skills needed to thrive. Here in Phoenix, our community booms with the help of organizations like Invest Southwest, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Technology Council, #yesphx and Startup Grind Phoenix. Take advantage of your surroundings and go create something remarkable.