Starting any business takes know-how, time, capital and connections. It also takes the right psychological makeup. While no definitive list of successful personality traits for entrepreneurs exists, research and experience indicate a few must-haves.
Self-confidence. Businesses fail a lot. And many that succeed do so only after years of not turning a profit. No matter what field you enter, you will meet complications — from family obligations to bleak finances, from gorilla-sized competitors to an anemic customer base. The challenges may be enough to leave people questioning their sanity, but the only way to succeed is to keep trying. Entrepreneurs have an unusually high ability to believe in themselves and their ideas independently of what others may think. Truly successful entrepreneurs know they must temper this optimism with realism: having faith in your goals does not mean turning a blind eye to your shortcomings or external obstacles. Can you harness the optimist in you to cheer you on relentlessly while having the self-assurance to handle criticism well?
Creativity. You don’t need to have an incredible new idea to be successful (though it helps!) An entrepreneur can meet great success with a franchise or turn-key business, while many inventors never sell anything at all. Instead, the ability to see possibility should permeate every aspect of your business. Can you see opportunities where others see barriers? Can you find ingenious solutions to resource problems?
Discipline. Sure, being your own boss sounds great, but with great power comes great responsibility. Are you willing to work day in and day out with no one watching your back and no certainty of reward? Can you make yourself do everything that has to be done — the paperwork, bookkeeping and grunt work — instead of merely focusing on the parts you enjoy doing?
Grit. Passion is one of those words that often gets bandied about by entrepreneurial-types. But while many businesses have launched on the strength of passion, many have failed when people discover that passion by itself is not enough. The key to success is grit, the potent combination of passion and tenacity. Grit allows people to believe in what they’re doing and relish the opportunity but also to slog through work — and setbacks — day after day. Gritty individuals know that they are in control over the outcome of their lives, and they are willing to do what it takes to achieve that outcome.
So, how do you stack up? If you’ve got plenty of these entrepreneurial traits, fantastic. If not, don’t fret — all these characteristics can be learned. Sometimes bright and talented individuals find they’ve never been appropriately challenged — and when they are for the first time, they have trouble dealing. The best remedy? Practice failing!