They say that entrepreneurs are a rare breed, that if everyone could be one then everyone would be one.
I understand why people would believe this to be true but I believe that entrepreneurship can actually be taught instead of just inherited like a magic gene or something else as equally cosmic.
In fact, besides mentoring and coaching existing entrepreneurs and walking with them through their current projects and ventures I’ve been spending time helping others fully embrace their inner-entrepreneur and teaching them the mechanics of building their own futures and products.
But that doesn’t mean it is easy by any stretch of the imagination – like any good challenge it is, by definition, a challenge and most people will eventually quit before the inflection point. This, if anything else, is the natural vetting process rather than DNA. I suppose I’m much more of a nurture than nature in this argument, if that model helps at all.
Many people, yes, people just like you, dream of having their own business; one that they can call their own. They find that being salaried at a 9-to-5 job isn’t satisfying enough and hope that one day they can strike out on their own.
But the benefits of having a paycheck on your doorstep every other week, health insurance, a 401k, and other such things can stop even the bravest of us.
Working with many of them though I have identified 5 strong characteristics that will also be the foundation for your own personal education as how you can one day become a fully-fledged entrepreneur, if you want to be that is.
There seems to be an overwhelming sense of optimism in the entrepreneur – they believe that the impossible may, in fact, be possible. They believe that problems only exist because they haven’t solved them yet and that they are on their way.
They keep their head up high, despite the long hours and tough time and stay positive through even the worst of times. They don’t disregard reality and see the existing challenges with 20/20 vision, but they choose to move forward instead of let those challenges stop them.
Let’s be honest: Discipline is very hard. It’s hard for everyone, period. Some appear to have a better time with it than others but that’s because, in some part, they have worked hard to create those systems over time and are so good at keeping them now that it’s fluid.
And yes, there are some people who think so systematically that their behavior, as we understand it, is a natural off-shoot of what we perceive as positive discipline. But even they struggle too.
Discipline for the entrepreneur isn’t a one-size fits all type model – they simply do three things really, really well:
- Avoid distractions, whatever they may be.
- Meet or exceed deadlines.
- Create boundaries that work, for their health and sanity.
All the rest of the details can be worked out on a personal basis.
The most popular entrepreneurs and the one’s that we laud, respect, and attempt to copy are generally very good public communicators. This is more about their “stage presence” than anything else and it doesn’t mean they are more successful entrepreneurs than others. They are simply better public communicators.
But all successful entrepreneurs are good at communicating simply because they have to be able to communicate not just their idea but the how and why this idea is worth anyone else’s attention. Whether it’s to a crowded room of angel or venture capitalists or whether it’s to their small creative team of a few, quantity is less of a factor.
All entrepreneurs can learn and be equipped to become better communicators but they are all generally gifted in communication.
You are confident that the problem that you’re tackling and the solution that you’re creating is one that is worth not just your time but other people’s time as well. Not just your future customers or clients but also the team of people that you have working with you to help build it.
Successful entrepreneurs have a quiet and deep level of self-confidence, even if they are and can be anxious about the future. The reality is that building a startup is really tough work but facing the daily challenges of leading a growing organization has less to do with their level of confidence and more about their ability to execute the functional needs of the personel and business.
They can still be confident and have that self-confidence and be a terrible manager – they just need to hire someone or partner with someone who is naturally gifted in management.
5. Team Player
Lastly, among the top characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is the fact that they aren’t solo acts – they may start out that way but anything worth doing and that may eventually change the course of human history is done in the context of a team and not just one individual.
Even if you aren’t spiritual, the model of Jesus Christ (God Himself) had a team that helped him accomplish his mission. Aside from that god-sized (pun intended) example, just think of all the major inventions or applications or organizations that you respect today – they were built by teams of people, a group of entrepreneurs that came together to do great things corporately.
This isn’t just about one guy sitting at his desk hiding behind his blog and twitter building a small web app, although they may be very financially successful, but rather those seeking to do much greater work than padding their personal bank account. They are team players are seek companionship, camaraderie, and the ability to submit to the leadership of others.
There are many more characteristics of budding entrepreneurs that at some point I’d like to share, but these are the first 5 that stand strongly above many of the rest.
So, are you a budding entrepreneur? Can you be working in these areas so that you’re growing in the right direction?
Make sure also to read my additional 5 characteristics here to round out my top 10.