There are no exams you need to pass or qualification you need to have before you can describe yourself as an entrepreneur.
In fact, anyone with an inkling of an idea for a business can describe themselves as an entrepreneur – but having a good idea does not mean anything unless you have what it takes to put that idea into practice and make it a success.
And while there is no “blueprint” of what makes a successful entrepreneur – they come from all over the world, from large cities and small villages, have vastly different backgrounds, income brackets, motivations, and upbringings – there are a number of traits that many of them share which most certainly do contribute to their success.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …PASSIONATE
Can you think of a successful entrepreneur who comes across as half-hearted about what he or she is doing? I doubt it. To be truly successful in making your vision a reality and selling it to others you need to be passionate about it. Not just a little bit, either. It needs to be an all-consuming fiery passion that sees you through some of the tough times that are sure to lie ahead.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …ADAPTABLE
Talking of tough times, speak to any entrepreneur and they are sure to tell you that the journey to the top is not all plain sailing. Unless you have superhero powers you really can’t see into the future and your quest for greatness is bound to be beset by a good few surprises which could knock you sideways if you are not willing and able to adapt. You need to be able to think on your feet, be decisive and set a new path round obstacles or away from trouble.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …A RISK TAKER
Taking risks is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur, whether it’s financially, such as quitting a salaried job to pursue your dream, or a more personal risk, such as alienating friends. But the old adage about doing the same old things leads to the same old outcomes is particularly true for entrepreneurs – you need to be willing to try something new and step out of your comfort zone if you are to achieve something you haven’t had before.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …DETERMINED
The most successful entrepreneurs are 100% clear about what it is they want to achieve and 110% determined to do whatever is necessary to achieve it. That doesn’t mean they are inflexible (see ADAPTABLE) but it does mean they are always looking at ways to take whatever action is necessary to get to where they want to be. They face challenges head on and keep moving toward their goal.
AN ENTREPRENEUR …OVERCOMES FAILURE
How you deal with failure will be at the very heart of whether you can cut it as an entrepreneur. Failure is an almost inevitable consequence of being willing to try something new – not every idea or venture is going to be a success. As an entrepreneur you need to be able to accept failure as part of the learning process and push on through to try something new. Take what lessons you can from it and move on.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …A NETWORK EXPERT
Whether it’s online or in the real world you shouldn’t underestimate the value of building meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial, even if the benefit to you is not immediate. Successful entrepreneurs always take a long-term view and are always prepared to offer value to others even if there is little or no prospect of short-term payback.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …CONFIDENT
To make it as an entrepreneur you need total belief in yourself, in your ideas and your ability and strength to overcome all obstacles, even when you are surrounded by naysayers who are telling you your business will never succeed and you don’t have what it takes. You need the confidence to overcome obstacles, push the boundaries and move forward fearlessly, following your convictions to achieve your goal.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …ALWAYS LEARNING
You may well be at the top of your game, a force to be reckoned with in your field but you have to recognise that you don’t know everything. Fortunately, you don’t have to. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to recognise your strengths and play to them and for the rest, you can bring in other people. But that doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning. Things change and evolve in every industry and you need to be always learning to stay ahead of the game and broaden your horizons.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …MONEY-WISE
Whether you are scraping together your savings or have a million pound backer to get your business off the ground you are going to need some serious money management skills. Business is all about balancing the books and hopefully making a profit, so you need to be savvy about where your money is coming from and where it is going. Silly spending on unnecessary stuff is a surefire way to see your business fail. Have a clear plan of what your essential expenses are and how you are going to cover them and stick to it.
AN ENTREPRENEUR IS …GOOD AT SALES & PROMOTION
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product or service in the world, if no one else knows about it, you are never going to have a successful business. As an entrepreneur, you are the ambassador for your brand. You need to understand the problem your potential buyers are facing and know inside and out how your product or service solves that problem or takes that pain away. If you don’t, no one else will. Learn to be a shameless promoter of what you have to offer without being pushy or offensive.
There are a whole host of other attributes that successful entrepreneurs could be said to possess – vision, resilience, balance, discipline, creativity, to name but a few – but the bottom line is that they are willing to walk the walk and talk the talk to see the view from the top of the mountain. And once they have reached the top of the mountain they relentlessly push on to the next peak.
It’s not always an easy path but the benefits or living the life of an entrepreneur can outweigh the cons a million times over. For starters, you get to be your own boss and you get to do something you believe in and something that can change lives, including your own and those of the people you care about, for the better.