Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 28, 2019

10 Key Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur

Countless millions dream of one day achieving their commercial dreams by making it as a successful entrepreneur, yet most people who foray into the business world for the first time often do so without adequate preparation.

Despite the many allures of becoming a successful entrepreneur, you’ll have many hurdles to surmount before you can claim victory. And entering into the market without doing your homework is a surefire way to doom your prospects before you even really get started.

So, what do you need to make it as an entrepreneur in a tight market? And why do so many fledgling business gurus fail to achieve their dreams?

Here are 10 key characteristics of an entrepreneur to review before starting your own company:

1. Organizational Skills Are Key

For many entrepreneurs, life is a take-it-as-it-comes adventure, wherein they roll with the punches instead of planning things out well-ahead of time. This is a dangerous path to tread, as countless business endeavors have failed due to a lack of foresight.

Furthermore, rapid changes to the market conditions you’re operating in can seldom be weathered without ample preparation. So focusing on your organizational skills now will surely help you later down the line.

Nevertheless, most entrepreneurs struggle with honing their organizational talents because they’re so caught up in the daily grind of running their company from the big-picture perspective, which seldom if ever permits you to plan the nitty-gritty details of your commercial future. That’s why it’s important to set some time aside for planning purposes or consider hiring an assistant to help you manage your hectic schedule.

Hiring someone to keep track of your calendar, meetings, and other crucial deadlines isn’t always easy for entrepreneurs trying to cut down on the operational costs of doing business, yet having a dedicated professional help you bolster your organizational talents will pay off in the long run.

You won’t be able to model the way for your employees without adequate organizational skills, so don’t let them fall on the backburner as you seek commercial success.

2. An Innovative Mindset Is Mandatory

Some entrepreneurs who think their organizational skills are highly refined may be breathing easy, but the truth of the matter is that, there are other key characteristics you’ll need to possess if you want to succeed, too, such as an innovative mindset.

Being able to foresee and tap into disruptive changes which are hurtling your way is more important now than ever before, especially since digital technology has rendered virtually every industry ripe for operational overhauls. Whether you’re a small business, budding corporate empire, or small time crafts shop, there’s a good chance innovation is heading your way for better or for worse.

Advertising

It’s thus imperative to master the art of appealing to emotions[1] in an effort to help your ideas cut through the noise and receive the attention they deserve.

An innovative mindset is insufficient in and of itself unless you have the savviness to pass off your innovative ideas as being desperately needed. So spend some time honing your appealability if you want innovation to be a friend rather than a foe. This is why it’s also crucial to focus on…

3. Empathy for Everyone

Most businesses don’t start out because people want to turn the world into a better place, but rather, in the pursuit of profit so that you can earn an honest living for yourself.

For many entrepreneurs, honorable intentions and helping people must come second to profits because a failure to earn a buck means bankruptcy and an inability to help anyone ever again.

Nevertheless, it’s important that you don’t allow profit motives to consume your entire entrepreneurial personality, as those business leaders who find success most easily are empathetic and capable of connecting with people on a deep, emotional levels.

Empathy is worth speaking at length about, because it’s something that most entrepreneurs lack. By honing your empathic abilities and opening yourself up to the experiences of others, you’ll quickly find an ability to cultivate deep employee loyalty to your commercial cause. Furthermore, your workers will understand that they can approach you as a friendly source of inspiration when they’re down rather than treating you as a harsh boss to be avoided whenever there’s bad news.

Genuine empathy is good for business because it humanizes your otherwise robotic commercial operations and gives customers, workers, and investors alike plenty of reasons to have confidence in your leadership abilities.[2]

If you’re struggling to lure in new customers, your inability to exercise empathy could be the root cause of your issue. Given that so many entrepreneurs struggle with empathy, making it a key characteristic of your personality is a fantastic way to stand apart in the marketplace while luring in the best and brightest of workers.

4. Interpersonal Communication Skills

You don’t have to be a business mastermind to understand that a strong communicative arsenal is needed to survive and thrive for long in the cutthroat commercial marketplace. What too few entrepreneurs realize, however, is that some forms of communication are more valuable than others, and that interpersonal communication must rise above all else if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Interpersonal communication is face-to-face communication, which is crucial to remember. There’s such thing as technologically intermediated interpersonal communication, wherein you’re talking face-to-face over video services, but the real deal entails you and the person you’re communicating with seeing one another in the flesh.

Entrepreneurs who don’t actively labor to refine their interpersonal communication skills will find themselves struggling to succeed in a number of crucial commercial areas, not least of which include employee recruitment and retention.

Advertising

You may think your employees are dreading a face-to-face sit down with the boss, but the truth of the matter is that human beings need human contact if they’re to remain happy, healthy, and productive. Introducing yourself to your workers in a normal human fashion and frequently engaging them in a face-to-face manner will bolster your personal ties while making it easier for you to read body language and other important cues that are lost in the midst of tech-intermediated communication.

In other words, try to remember that digital communication skills aren’t the only thing that matters.

5. Self-Discipline and Management Skills

Far too many entrepreneurs spend too much time worrying about the company’s well being and too little time looking after their own health. It may seem obvious, but failing to take care of your body and mind through a wholesome self-discipline will surely be your downfall sooner rather than later.

The human body can only deal with so much stress, and the long hours that most entrepreneurs work will inevitably be their undoing unless some downtime is scheduled in.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with self-management techniques which can enable you to make the most out of both your downtime and productive hours. Take caution not to approach your personal downtime like a business endeavor, however. Far too many entrepreneurs don’t know how to go into “off mode,” and refuse to gain the wholesome self-discipline sometimes required to force yourself to take a break.

Remember that too much stress can destroy your abilities to make it as a successful entrepreneur, and soon you’ll be approaching self-management with a new appreciation for its importance.

6. You Must Be an Avid Reader

Lots of struggling business owners laugh at the idea of reading books in their downtime, mostly because it’s a time-consuming process that takes them away from their commercial pursuits. Even those who would love to pick up a book every now and again confess that the hectic nature of their daily schedules often prevents them from turning the pages of their favorite novel, magazine, or short story.

It’s nevertheless imperative for entrepreneurs who want to achieve success to read as often as possible, as a voracious appetite for the literary word is one of the common denominators of success in any walk of life.

There are two major reasons to read more in your everyday life: the first is that it will broaden your horizons by introducing you to new and exciting perspectives, and the second is that it will likely increase your overall lifetime earnings.

While most people understand that reading makes you more intelligent, few of them appreciate the extent to which bookworms out-earn their non-reading colleagues. An extensive study found that boys who were surrounded by books from a young age grew up to become men who earned more, on average, than their peers who didn’t have such robust literary roots.[3]

Besides bolstering your paycheck or accounts on bitcoin, becoming a bookworm will also help you hone your writing skills and ability to analyze complex texts. What’s more, reading is incredibly cheap and easy; with a free library card being the only thing you need to enjoy what’s essentially a limitless volume of classical texts and modern marvels of the literary world.

Advertising

Finally, books just make you appear smarter than the average bear, and those who have a hefty leather companion tucked under their arm give off an intelligent vibe. If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, start bringing a book with you wherever you roam.

7. Learn How to Delegate

Another key characteristic of entrepreneurial success is the ability to delegate, as even the savviest business owners can’t do everything by themselves.

If you’re incapable of learning the hidden talents of your employees so that you can delegate specialty work to them when the need arises, you’ll fail to ever maximize the potential of your workforce, something all successful business owners must do sooner or later.

Delegating isn’t always easy for entrepreneurs, especially those who started from the bottom by themselves before clawing their way to the top of the dogpile. But a failure to let someone else take control every now and then can lead to stress-related burnout.

Avoiding burnout is essential if you want to make it as a business leader, as there won’t be anyone else ready to take the reins of your company if you suddenly find yourself overworked and incapable of leading.

Learn how to cultivate talented workers and turn them into clever managers, and your job as an entrepreneur will be much easier than if you tried to do everything yourself.

Take a look at this guide and learn how to delegate: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Being Decisive Is Key

Many people dread being forced to make an important decision. After all, what if you mess up and the consequences of your poor choice continue to haunt you for years to come?

While it’s perfectly natural to fear making a crucial mistake whenever a major decision must be made, entrepreneurs who find themselves incapable of being decisive when it counts the most are inevitably leading their business towards failure.

As the leader of the enterprise, it’s your role to make the tough calls when the budget starts dwindling and the deadline starts approaching. Some things can and should be delegated to others, but when it comes to being a decisive leader, all would-be entrepreneurs need to stand up and learn how to be decisive.

These tips can help you make better decisions: 5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision Making

Advertising

9. Analytical Problem Solving

Far too many entrepreneurs dismiss the importance of analytical problem solving because they mistakenly believe that crunching the numbers is best left to someone else. True entrepreneurs, so this logic goes, focus on big-picture scenarios and don’t allow themselves to get bogged down crunching the numbers.

In reality, however, analytical problem solving is a key characteristic of the successful entrepreneur because we now live in a data-driven age where collecting and analyzing tidbits of information is an essential part of most commercial activities.

Whether you’re selling insurance, designing new software, or working in a myriad of other sectors, having analytical problem solving skills will help you make sense of the ever-growing flurry of numbers that pervades the business world. With big data analytics becoming an ingrained part of the market, these analytical skills will only grow more and more important towards the long-term wellbeing of your entrepreneurial pursuits.

Yes, even entrepreneurs need analytics,[4] so don’t shun that which you don’t understand if you want to earn a profit someday.

10. Eagerness and Spirit

Finally, entrepreneurs can’t discount the importance of eagerness and sound spirit when it comes to pursuing commercial success. As the entrepreneur, an important part of your job is to inspire others and lead the way by example, so having a spring in your step everywhere you go is important.

It’s not always easy to smile when the world around you is full of misery, or when new business hurdles. But remaining optimistic in the face of adversity is the quintessential characteristic of any successful entrepreneur.

Don’t let temporary setbacks put you permanently behind. Eagerness and high spirits are often the last weapons to which entrepreneurs resort to in their darkest hours, yet remaining confident and bold at all times is the real key to success.

Whether things are looking sunny or sour, a positive disposition will carry you far in the commercial arena while inspiring your employees to take heart and keep working their hardest.

The Bottom Line

Entrepreneurs must be self-disciplined, flexible, and capable of relying on others when it’s necessary to delegate. Above all else, however, the key characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is an ability to roll with the punches without ever losing the smile on your face.

More Articles About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps 10 Key Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur 8 Tactics to Greatly Improve Motivation in the Workplace Signs of a Toxic Workplace and How to Deal with It 50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes from the Greatest Leaders of All Time

Trending in Featured

1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 How To Start a Conversation with Anyone 3 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 4 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day 5 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

Advertising

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

Advertising

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Advertising

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

Advertising

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

More About Self-Learning

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Read Next