Read this article for the most honest, practical and direct advice with solid reasoning to back why certain qualities figure in the ‘Top 10’ must haves to be a successful entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs are the people from whom the budding entrepreneurs can learn and grow. Success is a glittering attraction but being successful is a process often rough and painstaking. To be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to have a certain set of qualities, without which you are bound to fail and crash. There are numerous qualities that can be listed under this topic, but here ‘the most essential’ or ‘the must have’ qualities for being a successful entrepreneur are listed. One must know, that these qualities are not god-gifted or natural. Some people can have a few of them, but they need to be inculcated consciously. Other qualities can be developed and acquired with persistent practice and guided hard work.
Start-ups and entrepreneurship are the new keywords highlighting in almost every conversation. These days there are lots of guides, gurus and advisors to help people solve the issues and puzzles of everyday life. Help is at hand. There was a time before the internet or the ‘blog boom’, when secrets to success were secrets. But not anymore. Dive in and find out what essential internal programming you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
1. Being Money Minded
Yes, you have heard it right. Contrary to what people say, remember one of the basic rules of commerce: Money is the life and blood of all business activity. Money is a resource. It will get work done. You need to be money minded. What all money you are going to invest, you should keep track and account of it. You should not be stingy. There will be situations when initially in the business you’ll be investing money and effort and still the Return-on-investment (ROI) will be zero. But that should be your conscious decision. Additionally, you must budget your costs and expenditures. Plan ahead regarding your required investments.
Pro Tip: When you think of investment into your business, say ‘x’ amount to start with. Then you add a contingency fund. Why? When you begin to invest or start your operations, you’ll find new expenditures surprising you every now and then. Additionally, you must have some more fund to meet any exigency or business blunders. To correct that blunder or meet the exigency, you need extra funds for course correction. Most budding entrepreneurs don’t plan for this and have to pack their bags the moment a minor set-back hits their plans. Remember, ‘planning is good but, in the battlefield, you need to adapt’, for that you need extra ammunition and that is money.
Being an entrepreneur is more than just business start-up formula. It is basically what you are and what stuff are you made up of. No, am not saying to be emotional about your business. What I mean is your deepest reserves of motivation and positivity to keep carrying on when all the things are not responding to your actions and the whole world seems to be your enemy. Not just an entrepreneur, but every man and woman on the planet faces such situations. All those who run away crying, need help and support. But where average chump fails, entrepreneur succeeds. Admittedly, it is a very tough and a rare characteristic. The self-belief in your ability and yourself as a person is what will anchor you when the hurricane of criticism will be there on a simple and minor mistake or your deep self-doubt will try to engulf you. Point here is not to be foolishly optimistic. You need to realise that some or more difficulties and hardships will be there and you choose the path because you are willing to toil yourself so that rest of your life you are not saying ‘Yes Sir’ to someone who is your boss by chance. So that you escape the job of making other people rich. So that you can build your own empire.
Pro Tip: Self-belief comes from good research based on solid fundamentals. Behold! In business world, your emotions and biases are your biggest enemies. You need to see what your clients, customers and buyers want. Not what you wish to sell, service and tell. You need to listen and learn rather than talk, dream and crash. Plan through the end and stick to your plan. Adjust plan as you progress and keep reviewing it after certain periods but not too frequently. Analyse your sector, your risk-taking capacity, resourcefulness and specially the cash flows i.e. for how long can you keep investing before the Break-Even Point (no loss no profit) stage is reached.
3. Emotion with Pragmatism
This could hit you like a bomb. Having passion for what you do is one thing, that thing really works in the real world is another thing. A right balance is needed or else it will float towards ‘creative ego’ and you really don’t want that. People start a business and they jump on the very first idea they like, or the one which they think requires less hard work as compared to others or even what has worked for next door Bob. If these are your criteria for deciding, all you need is to go back to the drawing board. Identifying what works in the real world is must, what work for the Bob could give you a hint of what things work but not definitive idea. Remember, all businesses are profitable but an entrepreneur decides a business based on what his personality type and liking is. To put it simple, Jeff Bezos cannot do what Warren Buffet is doing and they both are not interested in running the business what Pfizer is doing. Yet, they all are profitable and successful.
Pro Tip: Testing the business idea in the real world is a must. Running a pilot project or asking a customer about what they expect in a service or product you are delivering will save a lot of effort from being wasted. Having an idea will not be worth if it is not tested in a real world but in a controlled scenario with some investment which you can risk. Let idea be yours but the final product be shaped to cater to the needs of the buyers.
Patience is a virtue and a successful entrepreneur knows its actual worth. These days people want instant results but business in not a burger you order. It is a process, a campaign to set you financially independent, be your own boss, contribute to the world of business and feel a sense of achievement above all. Business comes with its own share of hard work and difficulties. If things are so easy, then Bob would have done by now and would have gone fishing in his new luxury car. But don’t be a Bob. No day dreaming. Every dream has a price to pay. The price of hard work and skipping gossip sessions is better than seeing other people living a dream life on T.V. and wishing it for yourself while doing nothing.
Pro Tip: While planning for your business, do understand your sector, industry type, economic cycle and the business cycle. Learn the tricks of the trade. They are easy. You’ll be able to predict the time-frame needed for the things to turn up. Don’t hurry and spoil the work done till now. Keep yourself occupied with productive tasks. Also, if similar businesses exist in your sector, then observe their time taken and what all obstacles they face. While you learn and adapt smartly, irrespective of anything the business will take some standard time. Don’t get disheartened, because there are industry cycles and turnaround times. This maturity will keep you calm and composed like a strong general on a victory march.
5. Long-term Vision
Every successful entrepreneur has a vision which is set in a long-time horizon. Having a vision is necessary, but something more is needed. Apart from having a vision, you must develop a workable action plan. Otherwise your vision is just a mistaken dream. Without a long-term vision your business will be like a rudderless ship, it may have strong sails and wind but does not know where to go. It helps you to establish the basic characteristic of the business. Your growth-orientation and direction of growth will be determined. You open a burger selling outlet, now what do you want? Varieties and adding more dishes or want to establish chains and distribute franchise? Such questions if answered in the beginning will help you to decide whether to master one craft or to have a bouquet of services on which you want to expand further.
Pro Tip: Asking Why? This question will help you to understand your own business proposition and help you to analyse the depth of your involvement with the project. You’ll get to understand, how deep should the foundation be laid. Surely, for a temporary gain your hard work will differ as compared to what you’ll put to establish a business empire.
This is most talked about attribute of a successful entrepreneur and often most looked over. Rather, lack of this quality is behind maximum number of entrepreneurial fails. But I have to admit that it is easier said than done. In some other article I will cover in depth what perseverance in business sense actually mean rather than just quoting Aristotle or some rich famous business tycoon. Perseverance is not obstinately keep on investing against all business sense. Perseverance is analysing each and every business challenge and threats and adapting your business strategy to meet such threats. People advise by writing ideologies on this topic, but it is as much practical and actionable. Have some experienced persons who are well tested as your advisors and don’t listen to everyone else. Keep yourself grounded and keep working in the right direction.
Pro Tip: To have perseverance, one must have a business vision and an actionable plan. Most importantly you should have a criteria or metrics to measure your progress. Have mid-term goals like targets to achieve in 2 months time and work towards it. If you achieve it fast, then pat yourself else try to reach your well researched reasonable goals. Having a business advisor could be a blessing if he/she is well tested and is a bona-fide. If you’ll listen to Bob then you are in a deep trouble. No hard feelings Bob, we love you.
7. Risk Taker
Another term which is loosely used and most often leads to entrepreneurial disaster. A successful entrepreneur is a risk-taker but not a gambler. A calculated risk with the ability to absorb the shock and a well-defined war chest is needed to meet any exigency. Risk is specific in relation to your industry and sector. Even crossing road is a risk. So, everyone is a risk taker. But a successful entrepreneur takes business risk which are tolerable, ethical and financially viable. People think of this term, ‘risk-taker’ and take disproportionate risks which send them either back to the drawing board or to the job-sites. Having clarity over this quality is much needed.
Pro Tip: The amount of risk which you can take is proportional to your loss absorbing capacity. There are risks inherent to every business. Some risks can be judged much in advance and are in your control, while there are some risks which are not in your control like changes in taxes or government policies etc. Thus, for some risks you can prepare in advance and for others you can adapt.
Business is no child’s play even if you are running a toy store. You need to learn the basics. Money has its own language and loves to be treated well and valued. Over-promising and over-zealous promotions are a time-bomb to end your business. You need to be ruthless to firstly yourself, so that you can set realistic expectations. Secondly to customers, to demand the money. Thirdly, to suppliers etc. in demanding dependable supply schedules. There are certain things on which you cannot lay low or be complacent. You need to evaluate even yourself and pull yourself if the level of commitment and hard work dips. You cannot just keep on obliging people endlessly there have to be transactional analysis.
Pro Tip: There are certain things in your business which you can control. You must demand the value for the time invested and efforts put in. Define your standards and stick to them. Don’t fall in the fruitless debate of quality vs quantity or hard-work vs smart-work. Work enough and lay a deep foundation which you can mould by smart application. You need to have a cake to have an icing.
9. Energy Bomb
A successful entrepreneur is an energetic person. Our lovely Bob could be a very wise and intelligent person, but if he is a lazy bum who loves his couch, will not be loved by money for sure. You need the energy to do work, to stay positive and to keep your neck above the stress level. But it just does not stop here. You need to pump up yourself as well as those who work for you. Everybody must have the clarity for what they are doing and how does it fit into the whole scheme. Build a team and not just superior-subordinate relations. People are emotional beings and they work better when they are motivated. You need to take care of the morale of your workforce too. It’s not about taking them to motivational lectures which are more or less than an outing. When people know that they work for something more than the money, they deliver more than you ask for.
Pro Tip: No, you should not be an ass who work day and night. Fix the business hours and work hard in those hours. Don’t do time pass or else, the time will pass you. Connect with your employees or stakeholders in a personal manner too. Just simply ask about the health and well-being of their loved ones and you’ll find the glow on their face. Tell your story and connect people to your campaign for prosperity. Have a vision which includes all.
Without implementation, all your dreams will remain a dream. A successful entrepreneur is a doer. He is a man of action. But a well thought action. Implementation is the key. The ‘karma’ will beat your competitor Bob who is planning well but is watching T.V. or is planning for the weekend party. You need to be courageous to step out and do the ground work. You cannot fear from your hands getting dirty. You need to plant your business seed well deep and nourish it regularly while protecting it from the insects so that you can bask in its shade and enjoy its fruits forever.
Pro Tip: Plan well and plan to the end. But have actionable steps. Otherwise, the big goal will overwhelm you. It is normal and natural. Start with baby steps and build on fast. Yes, when people say, go slow, I say go fast and adapt fast but with solid background research. Toil day and night. It is your business and you want to make it shine.
Well, I hope, this article on ‘10 Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneurs’ will lay the ground work for your success and will empower you to go beyond the sky and shine amongst the stars. Share your thoughts regarding this topic and anything else you want to know about. A healthy, informed and well-intended discussion will help many budding entrepreneurs.