While every entrepreneur has different qualities and skills, there are some common traits that can be cultivated to become a highly successful entrepreneur.
Most of us intuitively know that entrepreneurs need to be creative, smart, and passionate about what they are doing. But let's look at some of the lesser known, but fairly universal characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
#1 - Tenacity like Elon Musk
For some entrepreneurs, money is not the primary motivation. In many cases, it's a vision and desire to accomplish certain goals that drive entrepreneurs to success. As the tenacious and wildly successful Elon Musk once said:
"If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you still do it."
For Elon Musk, inflating costs, a global financial crisis, or lack of trust from investors, does not stop him from pressing forward. He has a vision and he's not going to let anything stop him from chasing it, no matter what the cost may be financially or physically for those around him.
Perseverance is one of those elusive entrepreneurial characteristics that can't be taught and must simply be expressed through action over time until success comes into view. Great entrepreneurs don't take no for an answer.
They always try to push forward in spite of obstacles and setbacks. They also have a strong work ethic and they pursue their goals relentlessly, even in the face of opposition.
- Have clear goals and visualize success constantly
- Always try new ideas when one fails instead of giving up completely
- Focus on the big picture more than short term barriers
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#2 - Creativity like Michael Dubin
Creativity is at the heart of every successful entrepreneur because, without out-of-the-box ideas, there will be no innovation. And when there's no innovation, there will be no competitive advantage. It's about setting yourself apart from other businesses. This trait is also important for finding solutions when your business is facing challenges.
This is where Dollar Shave Club CEO, Michael Dubin, shines. He knows that a razor blade is a pretty common product, so he came up with a creative way to make his brand special and really stand out.
With a heaping dose of creativity, he created a viral marketing video that was low-cost. He starred himself, used deadpan humor, and explained the selling points effortlessly. The video became so popular it has garnered over 27 million views on YouTube and snagged over 17,000 paid email subscribers in its first seven days.
Even if you have limited budget, you can create a low cost explainer video online with little effort and money.
#3 - Adaptability like Charles Darwin
Quick thinking and adaptability are key to being an entrepreneur who can weather any storm, no matter how big or small the challenge is. If anyone built a career on this trait, it's Charles Darwin. He is often quoted saying:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
As an entrepreneur, you will fail, lose money (even friends), and go through tremendous highs and lows. To go above all this, you should be ready for any situation no matter how difficult it might seem to others.
Adaptability is a key to survival. If you are not adaptable enough, then nothing can stop your business from falling apart. In other words, the best entrepreneurs are able to adapt and come up with creative solutions when they need them most.
The entrepreneurs that thrive are the ones that can adapt their business model to changes in their environment. They do this by constantly modifying the elements of their businesses to fit the needs of the market. This is what it takes to lead a company, which has been estimated at five generations per century.
The entrepreneurs who fail do so because they stop adapting to changing circumstances or outright refuse to acknowledge the changes within their environment. The entrepreneurs who succeed are those who can continue to course-correct as necessary, without sacrificing a very clear vision for where they’re headed. As entrepreneurs, we need to be constantly on the lookout for changes in our environment and how they affect us.
Successful entrepreneurs move quickly when the time is right and get ahead of the curve by anticipating what might happen next. Among other things, this means constantly paying attention to your customers, their needs, the competition, emerging technologies, etc.
Another good example is Apple. At its core, the company makes and sells computers. But Steve Jobs was well aware that people have gone mobile each day. So, he moves into smartphones and becomes multi-use devices with built-in MP3 even web browsing. Within a few years, the iPhone became more popular than anyone expected which changed Apple forever!
#4 - Resilience like Jack Ma
Did you know that before becoming one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and worth $27.9 billion, Jack Ma has experienced soul-crushing failures? He was rejected from Harvard 10 times, being turned down for 30 jobs, the only interviewee rejected by KFC, and couldn’t convince Silicon Valley to fund Alibaba.
No matter how successful your business is, there will be bumps along the road. You need to be resilient and able to persevere through tough times. To paraphrase Bill Gates, it's fine to celebrate success, but it's more important to heed the lesson of failure.
For successful entrepreneurs, resilience is all about rethinking the way they see setbacks and failures. They view them as catalysts of growth and progress rather than threats that need to be avoided.
Successful entrepreneurs learn to view uncertainty, risk, and failure as opportunities for resilience. Resilience entrepreneurs are the ones who look at their past missteps not as signs of failure but rather as learning lessons that they can use to build a sustainable business venture.
So, when they find themselves confronted with a problem, successful entrepreneurs are able to pick up the pieces quickly and figure out how to move forward.
Jack Ma is living proof that it takes time and patience to cultivate this trait of successful entrepreneurs.
One thing you need to bear in mind here, though. Running your own business might seem fun, highly profitable, and tremendously rewarding, but not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. So, before taking the leap into entrepreneurship, it's always better to make sure you've got what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
To some extent, entrepreneurs are born and not made. However, that shouldn't stop anyone from trying a hand at entrepreneurship if they have the required skillset for running their own business successfully.
Remember that great entrepreneurs are not necessarily the most educated or even the best with money, but they have a few key strengths that make them successful. With those key strengths of a great entrepreneur mentioned above, you know what you need to bring to the table.
Guest post by Andre Oentoro, founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).