“One of these days I’m going to start my own business!”
How many times have you heard someone make this pronouncement ? Perhaps a colleague said it in response to a complaint about her boss or her working conditions. Maybe your significant other has an idea for an invention that he just knows is going to make him a millionaire. Or, perhaps you have said it because you long for the perceived freedom and flexibility that accompanies working for yourself.
Regardless of the motivation for embarking on a new business, it is important to consider that while entrepreneurship is a path that allows many people the opportunity to live out their dreams, the reality is that not everyone is up to the challenges of this less stable way of life.
If you are thinking about taking the leap into being your own boss, read on to learn some qualities you will need to possess. And, if you are already an entrepreneur, check out this list to see if there are any aspects of your personality you should be developing to boost your chances for success.
1. Risk Tolerance
Let’s start with the obvious – having a tolerance for risk is a necessity for being an entrepreneur. Working for yourself lacks the security of a regular pay check, paid vacation, benefits, and the like. And, there’s the chance that things may not turn out as well as you had hoped. If you can’t stomach the risk of potential failure, entrepreneurship is not for you.
2. Emotional Resilience
An entrepreneurial lifestyle is one that can be quite stressful. In addition to the lack of guarantees regarding income, the path can be fraught with disappointments, like products or services not taking off like you had hoped they would, losing clients, or unexpected expenses. And, unfortunately, when the buck stops with you, you’re the one who has to ultimately figure out how to solve the problems. In order to manage the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life, you will need resilience so you can move on from mistakes, setbacks, or failures without dwelling on them.
3. Learning Orientation
In addition to being able to bounce back quickly from setbacks, the ability to learn from them is important. Instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go as planned, you will be better off if you take a step back and figure out the lessons learned. Being open to feedback, willing to change direction when strategies aren’t working, and receptive to mentoring by others with more experience will increase the odds of your success. If you are not open to learning and trying new approaches, the entrepreneurial life may not be for you.
While I wouldn’t recommend being blindly optimistic, a positive attitude is a necessary ingredient for an entrepreneur. Without a sense of optimism, how will be able to put yourself out there to face possible rejection? Without optimism, how can you keep trying in the face of “no’s?” Without optimism, how can you innovate? An ability to see the glass as half full will take you far in your journey, and keep you motivated when the going gets tough.
Think being conscientious is important when you’re working for someone else? It’s even more important when you’re the person in charge. To run a successful business, you have to be self-directed and self-disciplined, with the ability to structure yourself and manage your time. Without these qualities, your ideas may remain just that – merely ideas – that aren’t being executed on.
To be a successful entrepreneur, self-awareness is essential. Knowing your strengths and areas for growth enables you to position yourself appropriately to leverage your strengths, and either work to develop in the areas in which you are weaker, or augment yourself with others who can complement you in those areas. Having allies who will tell it to you like it is will help you to guard against blind spots so you can make sure you are performing at your best.
Given the time, energy, hard work, and risk associated with being an entrepreneur, having a sense of passion for what you’re doing is a necessity. Research shows we are more productive and engaged in our work when we see it as a calling, and given the high stakes involved, having a high sense of drive and purpose about what you’re doing will gives you a sense of purpose that will help you to persist.
Finally, to keep your spirits up, reflect on these inspiring words from Mark Twain,
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”
Are you an entrepreneur or entrepreneur-to-be? What other qualities are needed for success?
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