Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur? Perhaps you aspire to be one?
Whatever you may label yourself, there’s certainly something to be said for living a life without the middle-man figure of a boss, where you’re joyously and freely interacting directly with clients or customers.
When you work for yourself, you are privileged with many freedoms; on the flip side, of course, you’ll also face much more responsibility than the average employee.
How do you deal with these responsibilities? This is often a sticking point for many new
entrepreneurs, especially ones who formally worked for other people. It’s hard to shake the training wheels sometimes, but having the kind of character that embraces these temporary discomforts in times of growth is often the difference between a success and a failure.
In fact, there are quite a few traits that nearly all successful entrepreneurs have.
Let’s examine 13 of these critical qualities:
Most people with the “employee mindset” will argue that they won’t start a business because it’s “too risky.”
This just shows that they either don’t understand what a business is, or they don’t understand risk, since, chances are, they already work for a business and are subjected to all its risks—they just have way less control over them! After all, when you work under others, you have to put up with all of their decisions over your own, even the bad ones.
An entrepreneur sees the world differently. Starting a business is a calculated risk to him. If he runs the numbers and sees that diving into a certain venture is worth it, he will; if he sees that it’s not, he won’t. All of life is risky, and an entrepreneur knows that running a business isn’t particularly riskier than anything else if it’s done right.
2) Willingness to take responsibility.
When we work for someone else’s company, we can often fade into the background or shift blame to others when the going gets tough. We can just sit there and complain when things beyond our control make work difficult for us.
If you’re trying to launch your own business, though, all of the responsibility is squarely on your shoulders. You are the Atlas of your own little universe, and everything depends on your ability to carry your own weight.
This is a scary proposition for some people, and an exciting one for others. Regardless, entrepreneurs need to be willing to take 100% responsibility for their lives—even for the things they can’t control—if they want to succeed.
When we don’t need to take responsibility, we can afford to turn our heads away and not examine the hard realities of our situation sometimes.
If we’re running a business, though, this will simply lead to disaster. Comfortable lies do not serve a true business person.
4) Willingness to act in the face of fear.
The outside world can sometimes be a scary place, but running a business is about action, not fearful paralysis. In spite of all the doubts, an entrepreneur has to be able to see past the fear and look to the reward at the end of his hard work.
5) Willingness to never make excuses.
In business, as in nature, there are no excuses—there is only results or lack of results. An entrepreneur realizes that these are his two universal choices and that excuses are not part of them.
To be able to serve customers, and truly understand them, you must become them in your mind, or at the very least, be able to imagine having their needs as your own.
7) Willingness to see one’s faults without taking them personally.
The key to growth is to be able to see your own flaws and to fix them. This does not mean being harshly judgmental of oneself, but it does mean being able to view oneself and one’s business in a more objective light than most people can.
8) Willingness to grow and change.
A successful entrepreneur knows that without progress and growth, there is death and withering of a business.
He knows that making any particular aspect of the business part of one’s identity, an unmovable thing that resists change is a fool’s errand.
9) Willingness to listen to feedback.
The customers will not always be able to tell you what they want, and often don’t even really know themselves what they truly desire, but they are almost always good at telling you what they don’t want.
A successful entrepreneur knows to read between the lines and figure out what his customers’ truly need.
Negativity has never gotten anyone anywhere, but, on the other hand, neither have delusions. A good entrepreneur knows that he must keep his head up high, keep hope alive, and keep moving—but he also knows that he needs a realistic plan if his dreams are to come true.
11) Willingness to innovate.
Sometimes being the first is a risk, and occasionally an entrepreneur may find that he needs to take a shot in the dark in order to see what might work. Part of the glory is going where no one has gone before and creating something that previously only existed in
Part of the glory is going where no one has gone before and creating something that previously only existed in one’s imagination.
12) Willingness to go against social conventions.
By and large, we live in a society made up mostly of employees. As we start out in life, unless we had a privileged upbringing, most of our friends and family are employees, and they feel comfortable (though maybe not exactly happy) with their situation.
Many times, these are the people who will, in subtle or overt ways, fight a person who attempts to go into business for himself. A successful entrepreneur has to be willing to ignore this peer pressure.
Ironically, to be a true success—barring a huge stroke of random luck—one must be willing to fail many, many times.
This is simply how the game of life is played; you must pay your dues in failures before you have learned to succeed. Successful businesspeople know and embrace this. Failure is disappointing, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the end.
Keep these things in mind if you’re looking to go into business for yourself. It is an extremely rewarding endeavor, with much opportunity for growth, but it comes at the cost of having to build your character—which, really, is a cost most entrepreneurs should be willing to pay.