Entrepreneurs are at the forefront of innovation through creation and invention. They are not only able to create products and services, but are also able to create jobs through their unique traits. They can facilitate a ripple effect through business sectors at the micro and macro level. But what are entrepreneurial qualities? What are the qualities and traits that separate the person who creates a business from the person who works for a business?
1. The Drive to Succeed
Drive and focus are the very marrow of the entrepreneur’s backbone. However, what does it mean to succeed? Where does this drive originate from? They are leaders that are able to see a problem and offer a viable way of fixing it. They are not in it to alter it in minute amounts or offer a temporary solution. They seek to offer a solution that will completely eliminate the problem altogether. It is a product and a service that makes people think, “Well I be damned. Why didn’t I think of that?” This is an innate entrepreneurial quality: the ability to think ahead of the pack and act upon it.
2. Total Commitment and Determination
As John Maxwell says, “Commitment: It separates doers from dreamers.” Commitment to a project, and the determination to fulfill the outcome, are essential character traits for an entrepreneur. Similarly, an entrepreneur must be goal oriented and able to follow an action plan set up to achieve the business goals.
Set up a timeline to gauge how long it may take, and the willingness and commitment necessary for achieving a certain goal. It takes self-motivation to prioritize goals, and one must take initiative and have personal responsibility for the priorities of a business in order for the venture to be a success.
3. Risk-Takers: Smart Decision Making
Any person interested in starting a business needs to be a competitive risk taker. Entrepreneurs take risks that are backed up with sufficient qualitative and quantitative data. They do not make blind, stupid decisions. They take smart risks while charging ahead with confidence.
4. Cater to Market Demands
People who have successful business startups have learned to have a feel for market wants and needs, enabling them to know how to properly fill that need. They do not obtain this intuition as a result of some extra sense or magical power, but rather from observation of past trends, interpreting the current market situation, and knowing their audience and target niches. This trait allows them to reap the benefits of continued success.
5. Emotional Intelligence: Harness Relationships
Entrepreneurs have high emotional intelligence that enables them to relate with exceptional skill to other people. This skill tells them what will fail and what will succeed by observing how people around them act and react in the early stages of a product’s development. They may take a loss on certain products, but quickly learn what will work, as well as what will not work, and cut their losses more quickly than those who lack emotional intelligence.
Thirdly, an entrepreneur must be able to persevere through barriers and setbacks. There will be much problem solving through starting up a small venture and it will be important to maintain a positive attitude and believe in the company through difficult circumstances.
Maintaining a sense of humor and internal locus of control through setbacks can provide the means to grow and learn from mistakes. It is great to think big and act now, but it is also important to determine contingencies for dealing with potential problems. The hope is that through a comprehensive business plan one will avoid many setbacks, but in many cases, setbacks happen regardless, so an entrepreneur must have realism for business expectations and maintain belief in the vision of the company through difficult times.
One must truly believe in themselves to be a leader and spearhead innovative ideas. This involves willingness to take risks in a calculated manner and being willing to fail at times. This relates to a low need for status and power as the entrepreneur must maintain confidence throughout the duration of a project even if a high level of status is not immediately obtained. It will take time to grow the venture to a prominent position.
Self-confidence also means being comfortable enough with one’s self to accept feedback and having the confidence and flexibility to change course through unexpected circumstances. Also, being teachable and open to learning throughout the growth process of a business is important in developing the expert skills of any trade or discipline. Finding a mentor to consult with can provide learning and growth through the initial stages of small venture start-up.
8. Innovation and Creativity
The entrepreneur must be able to recognize and seize external opportunities that relate to innovation in a specific industry. Specifically, it is important to apply innovation when sources of opportunity are presented through the entrepreneurial environment. Three main sources of innovative opportunity are: incongruities, demographics, and perception change.
Incongruities: Many times there are incongruities within industries. Go for the area in an industry where there is an apparent lack, like filling in missing pieces in a puzzle to make it whole. Make things as they “ought” to be instead of going along with how they are assumed to be in an industry.
Demographics: In regards to demographics there is always an emerging niche through changes in demographic make-up. Being able to recognize these ecological niches provides innovative opportunity by catering to the unmet needs of an emerging group.
Changes in perception: When values and characteristics change in the masses an innovative opportunity is present. Look for changes in social behavior and activity that can be capitalized on and developed. Examine the trends that are emerging and focus on the trends that will be emerging in the future.
The entrepreneurial spirit allows them to search for new channels, avenues, and resources to grow their business. They typically do not burn bridges, but rather focus their energy on building business and social networks in order to increase the size and success of their business.