FIVE KEY ATTRIBUTES OF SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS
October 13, 2016
By Aaron Gard
In my role as a business attorney, I work with many budding entrepreneurs. I’ve also launched a successful business myself, and I have a deep respect as an attorney and a startup founder for entrepreneurs.
In the course of my work, I’ve noted several common denominators among successful entrepreneurs. Sure, many of them, including myself, will tell you that often success is dependent on timing and even a little luck. But from what I’ve seen, the best among us create our own luck, exhibiting a few key attributes along the way.
Persistence in Building a Business
Entrepreneurship takes a lot of hard work. This isn’t to say that startup founders work harder than everyone else; rather, when you start a business, you get hit from all sides. There’s not only the formulation and refinement of your product or service (which can take years), but also nailing down your approach to sales and marketing growth strategies, operational plans, hiring and managing employees, taking on capital and/or partners, and much, much more. The process is most certainly a challenge, so persistence is a must.
Confidence in Your Ideas, Yourself
It should almost go without saying, but you need to have confidence to launch a business—confidence in your ideas, your products and yourself. Your confidence naturally affects the level of investment others will make in you and your business. When investors see confidence, they see a winner in the marketplace. When employees hear confidence in your voice, they are more apt to commit for the long term and fight through the building process with you. The more confident you are, the more likely you’ll be able sell customers on your products and services.
Adaptable to the Market
If one of these attributes has the greatest impact on a successful startup, it’s adaptability. Entrepreneurs rarely have an idea for a product or service that comes with the perfect business plan, and no one is handed a roadmap to success. Change is inevitable and constant. Thus, successful entrepreneurs are empowered by their ability to pivot when confronted with change, whether it’s refining a product concept or altering the structure of the company to take on more capital. Adaptability is powered by learning, whether it’s adhering to the advice of mentors, reading about emerging best practices in an industry, or conducting customer research to better understand the needs of customers.
Embracing Risk and Failure
If you’re not up for a risk, you really don’t want to be an entrepreneur. There are no sure bets in starting and building a successful business. I got comfortable with the notion of risk by recognizing that even mature, established businesses don’t really offer security—that’s an illusion. I could reel off a list of once-giant companies that are now defunct, and others that appear headed down the same path. It’s important to embrace the risk associated with entrepreneurship and acknowledge the likelihood of failures along the journey. Many multi-millionaires will happily list all of their failures prior to hitting their first home run. And to a person, they’ll tell you that embracing risk, and the failures that go with it, helped contribute to their eventual success. Successful entrepreneurs find a way to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Adept Money Management
Finally, the best entrepreneurs display real acumen when it comes to capital management, whether they’re bootstrapping or taking on angel or venture financing. You have to spend money to make money, but successful founders know to pull the right levers to make well-timed, balanced investments in marketing, operations, equipment and human resources. Furthermore, they are able to recognize when sacrifice may be required, on either a personal level or with others involved in the business. No matter what, all financial decisions are hard, whether you’re ramping up spending or cutting back.
As you’ve read this post, you may have been thinking, “I have some of these attributes, but certainly not all of them.” Well, the good news is that while few of us are born with all of these attributes, and only a few more have them developed after we leave school and enter the business world, these attributes can be developed through the help of key advisors, such as business attorneys, accountants, bankers, business owners, family and other trusted advisors.