So you want to be an entrepreneur?
Even if you think you are thinking conservatively, and you don’t really want to be an “entrepreneur” because all you really want to do is to be in business for yourself, the reasons people become entrepreneurs are the same as why people start their own business (conservatively).
If you leave aside some of the bad connotations of entrepreneurs such as huge egos and taking on enormous risk as they fly high, they share the same reasons as everyone else who want to start their own business.
They want to be independent and work for themselves (“can’t stand working for someone telling me what to do”), they are far too creative for their jobs (“they don’t listen to all my great ideas”), they are great salespeople (“I can sell ice to an Eskimo, why am I selling their stuff?”), they are impatient and confident (“they always ask for a detailed study when I know it will work”), they are experienced (“I’ve learned a lot from the school of hard knocks”).
Whether you are an entrepreneur or simply a “small business startup” is merely the language you use to describe your motivation.
So let’s call everyone entrepreneurs – of different degrees – and look at what you need to have inside you to survive and thrive.
In my nearly four decades of helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses I really believe that what makes any person succeed in business is in the head. Whether he or she builds a great business or even becomes a serial entrepreneur with each great idea depends on how they view life. Here are the 5 personality characteristics that, in my opinion, you have to have to be an entrepreneur.
The first is to have a vision and a real passion for that vision.
If you don’t know what it is you are driven towards, all you do is merely “work”. You might as well do the same stuff for someone else and be paid a wage with no risk…or excitement. Because with vision comes passion. Even if you can describe what it is you want to achieve, without passion it’s just another dream. The passion for your dream makes it exciting and something you get up every day to get nearer to.
The clarity of your vision is critical – you need to be capable of describing it in detail, and live and breath it. Without it, your business has no life. Why should customers buy from you if they can buy the same things from someone else with equally no passion? If you can describe exactly why you are in business, you pull the market towards you and your employees get to share the passion.
Simon Sinek, in a popular TED Talk tells of the example of Apple who don’t build computers – they build an attractive idea that is its own totally self-sustaining ecosphere. Want to be part of that life? Then buy our devices.
The second is to be able to separate what happens from what you feel about it.
While you may be able to control what happens inside your business, you cannot control what happens to you or your business.
You may be planning a product launch and you control each stage of it, then wham! A storm rips through the area and your launch is washed out!
If you want to be an entrepreneur you have to be the eternal optimist and separate what happens to you from how you feel about it. A storm? Great! We can have television and newspapers cover us talking about the new product in the rain, and at the same time show people how we cope with diversity! If we can cope with a washed out launch like this, think what our customers will perceive about the type of service they’ll get from us! Money can’t buy this kind of demonstration of our ability!
You cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you perceive it. If you think it’s bad, it’s bad. If you think it’s a challenge or an opportunity, it becomes an opportunity.
If you are knocked down by the first, or even the second bad event – hey, look out for the 200th. In the first year!
The third characteristic is to be persistent.
Truly, Rome was not built in a day. And during the building, various Legions got wiped out on foreign fields. But they persisted.
Business is about being in it for the long haul. Borrowing from the second characteristic, realise that you win some and you lose some, but for each loss, there’s something else to learn. Thomas Edison said that he didn’t fail 999 times before he worked out how to make a light bulb on the thousandth attempt; he said that he learned 999 things not to do.
Rely on the passion for your vision, find optimism, translate all those bad things into challenges, and find persistence because the important thing is to keep going. Each knock down takes you less time to recover from because you are learning what not to do. Eventually you’ll get there.
The fourth is to be good in what you do.
If you always strive to do the best, not even be the best but just to do the best that you can, people notice.
The best customer is a happy customer, happy because you have done good by them. The best employee is a happy employee because he sees you believe in doing the best so he can too.
Think of a time when you received say, the best food and the best service in a restaurant. Weren’t you pleased? Didn’t you go back? Didn’t you tell others?
Now think of a time when you went to a restaurant that provided an adequate meal, accompanied by personal service that made you feel special, cared for and looked after. Weren’t you almost just as pleased? If the service was personal and attentive, I’ll bet you went back.
Work on developing the best product or service in the field, but especially work on developing the best product or service that you can. No less than your 100% is good enough and good work will bring its own rewards.
The fifth personality characteristic you need as an entrepreneur is gut instinct.
Sometimes the facts and numbers seem to point one way, but you don’t feel right about it. Which do you listen to, your brain or your gut?
Well there’s no right answer, sometimes you should have listened to your brain, sometimes your gut was right. However you do need to listen to your gut instinct when it doesn’t feel right because, despite the facts, that feeling means that there is something that conflicts with your vision or your values.
However sometimes it can be confusing, so listen to your gut instinct but try to work out what it is trying to tell you about what the conflict is. Remind yourself what your vision means, and what outcome you need from this decision to achieve your vision; make sure you have all your options in front of you (because another one may be a better fit between gut and facts); work out the pros and cons of each option and as you do so measure the weight of each pro and con against your desired outcome; and finally work out what might be the worst case scenario for each outcome.
So, you still want to be an entrepreneur? Great! Join the club because it’s a lot of fun amongst all the hard work. Just be aware of the 5 personality characteristics you will need to have. And if you don’t have all of them? Learn – 999 times if you have to!
Come over to the website teikoh.com for more articles on what it takes to be in your own business. The website is full of valuable tips and downloads that you can get for free.
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