What are the common characteristics of an entrepreneur?
Behance co-founder Scott Belsky once said, “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”
This is the manifesto of entrepreneurs everywhere. It’s such an important topic that that Belsky managed to frame an entire book about it.
Dreaming up ideas is just the first step in becoming a true entrepreneur.
You must be willing to put those ideas into action in a way that’s both logical and creative all at once. That driving force to find solutions is what sets excellent entrepreneurs apart.
Sure, you’ll have failures and mishaps along the way.
That’s just part of the parcel, really, and to be expected. But how you handle all of these ups and downs is often the difference between whether you become successful or burn out a few years down the road.
Characteristics of an Entrepreneur
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to be an entrepreneur … more specifically, the common characteristics of an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t something you have to be born with. On the contrary; several of today’s most successful companies were born to entrepreneurs who dedicated their lives to developing the skills and personality quirks required to succeed. From Steve Jobs to even Oprah Winfrey herself, the best people in business recognize the value in each of these must-have characteristics.
Starting a business of any kind isn’t easy; there will be long periods of time in which patience is your most important characteristic. When you’re waiting for a phone call about capital, or you haven’t heard back from a new client, perhaps. Or maybe even when you’ve submitted your business taxes and now find yourself waiting on edge to see if you’re audited.
The fact is that growing a business often takes a great deal of time – sometimes even years – and rushing that process generally does very little other than cheapen the end result. A natural dose of patience will ensure that you weather these storms just fine every time.
Being patient isn’t always easy, especially if you’re dealing with a particularly difficult client or business deal. In your drive to succeed, it’s easy to get caught up in pushing forward so deeply that you become impatient and pushy (even with yourself). The unfortunate result of that is soured deals, poor business, and potentially, a reputation that you’re difficult to work with altogether.
Perseverance is the best friend of patience. Without patience, perseverance (steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty) simply couldn’t exist. The crux of it is that patience alone just isn’t enough; if it was, we could all simply wait and the pieces would gracefully fall into place.
Should the average person in business attempt this approach, they’ll quickly find that their dreams of starting and running a business trickle away little by little. Entrepreneurship is hard work, even when your progress seems to be slowing down.
Understand that there is a fine line between slacking and being patient, and that fine line is often perseverance itself. If you’re sitting around in your home office waiting for telephone calls while twiddling your thumbs for days on end, that’s not patience; it’s ambivalence. On the other hand, if you’re organizing your office, reaching out to new connections, networking on LinkedIn, or handling other business needs while you wait for those telephone calls, and you refuse to give up on trying even if it takes months, that’s perseverance. Know the limits and work within them.
Adaptability is quite possibly the single-most important characteristic for an entrepreneur to have; without it, the ups and downs of business will burn you out, make you frustrated, and quite possibly convince you give up on your dreams. Conversely, being willing and happy to adjust your position or business to suit the market, for example, will keep you afloat in even the most uncertain times.
So what does adaptability look like in entrepreneurship? Well, there’s no one answer to this question. The Harvard School of Business defines it as someone who can strategize within the current market and find a way to flourish within it. They clarify that it’s not necessarily the five-year or one-year plan that makes businesses competitive, but the ability and willingness to adapt rapidly when required.
4. A Passion for Learning
Think of entrepreneurship in terms of monkhood; you must start out as a layman before you can become a monk. No entrepreneur (not even these eight young tycoons) starts out knowing and understanding everything there is to know about running a business. Some of us begin with a natural affinity for communication, or an extreme ability to organize just about anything before us, sure…but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have learning to do.
In the entrepreneurship and business world, a passion for learning isn’t just optional, it’s critical. As the market shifts, changes, and grows, you must not only be adaptable, but willing to learn new strategies and processes along the way. Whether you watch TED Talks from your favorite role models or attend marketing conferences whenever possible, dedicating yourself to lifelong learning ensures that you aren’t left behind during strong market shifts.
It isn’t just about business, either; a good entrepreneur constantly seeks to evaluate and improve his own personal life, too. That means learning to take care of yourself and your health – so that you, too, can perform your best at what you do.
Disorganization: it’s the arch-nemesis of a good plan, and can single-handedly foil all of your lovely dreams if you aren’t careful. As an entrepreneur, an ability to stay organized (both in the tangible and non-tangible sense) is of immense value. It will keep you on track and focused in the chaos, whether your business is exploding or barely surviving. Staying organized is also a fantastic way to reduce extra stressors when times are tough.
Here’s an example; picture two desks. Assume that both are yours for the sake of this example.
Desk one is covered in papers, pens, scattered snack bags, three or our smartphones (each identical), old receipts, and a few credit cards. Somewhere among that pile of clutter is your work for the day.
Desk two, on the other hand, is neat, organized, and ready for you to work. A large calendar mat lies on top, waiting for you to pen in your most important information. To the front left is a small organizer holding pens, paper, and other supplies. To the right, the same electronic devices sit neatly labeled in a plastic organizer, too. Receipts lay in a small box labeled with the word “expenditures,” while snack bags and other clutter is neatly tucked into a small trash can at your feet.
Suddenly, a client calls. He wants to order more work, but he needs to see an old file before he can expense it out. The work is time-sensitive and he has just five minutes or he’ll need to call another company. Which desk will make it easier to find the information you need? Naturally, most people would choose the second, well-organized desk.
This example is a bit superfluous, but it is symbolic for the role organization plays in business. Having a well-organized staff, office, and business will ensure that you can successfully persevere, be patient, and become adaptable when necessary. It’s the foundation you need to truly succeed.