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The Most Common Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur

“The most successful entrepreneurs tend to start with a desire to solve an interesting problem – one that’s often driven by personal frustration.” - Roelof Botha, Sequoia Capital.

The word entrepreneur originates from the French word ‘entreprendre’, which roughly translates into undertaking a task. An entrepreneur is an individual who starts and runs a business with limited resources and planning, and is responsible for all the risks and rewards of his or her business venture. In most cases, the business plan or idea involves a new product or service. New entrepreneurial ventures usually have a high risk and an equally high reward. An entrepreneur usually controls most of the aspects of his/her new venture, such as marketing, sales, hiring, and distribution. Even if some of the key functions are farmed out, risk still lies with the entrepreneur.

What is meant by a successful entrepreneur?

Having several degrees or even doing well in school does not signify success. It also does not depend on who your parents are, or where you grew up. Being successful comes down to your attitude, personality, and outlook on life.

So, how do you become an entrepreneur? It’s pretty simple actually, all you need to do is combine certain ‘secret ingredients’! These so-called ‘secret ingredients’ are – hard work, discipline, flexibility, “never say die” attitude, and a knack for learning along the way.  

A successful entrepreneur is one who has a positive attitude towards business and the fortitude to become triumphant, whatever the conditions might be. Not only do successful entrepreneurs set high goals for themselves, but they also meet the goals irrespective of any setbacks suffered.

Successful entrepreneurs must have an open mind with respect to change. They should be full of confidence and must constantly reinvent themselves and their businesses to cope with the changing world.  They cannot afford to be obstinate and stubborn when it comes to selecting alternate options.

Budding entrepreneurs must keep in mind that the path to success always lies in innovation and evolution. It could be an innovation and evolution of products, services, ideas, or technology. They should also be aware of the latest technologies and products, in order to improve their businesses and to serve their clients in a better way.

What are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

Being ‘street smart’ is considered to be an important entrepreneur skill.

According to a recent study conducted by CPP Inc., two key successful entrepreneur characteristics are intuition and perception. This gives weight to the fact that success comes to those who see opportunities and explore it, and not to the smartest people. Apart from the aforementioned qualities, they must also have the following entrepreneur traits:

  • Passion: According to a research, 65% of entrepreneurs have been found as passionate and driven about their work, while the goal of the remaining percentage is to earn money. Even though entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have made bucket loads of money, they started off with their businesses because they were passionate.

  • Resilience: Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” As an entrepreneur, you will fail at times. But you must have the ability to get up, dust yourself off, and complete your goals. Successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney had resilience and perseverance engrained in them.

  • Flexibility: Adapting to challenges and change is crucial for all businesses. Most successful entrepreneurs will admit that their business ideas or plan were drastically different when they started out. For example, you may have a brilliant idea but it may not be very effective in reality. So you will have to make adjustments until the idea becomes an effective plan.

  • Trust your instinct: Entrepreneurs have been guilty of running their businesses on the basis of the firms’ accounting books, and not on the basis of their instincts. This approach is only suitable in the short-run. If you want your business to continue and prosper in the long-run, you must follow and trust your instinct.

  • Risk-taker: Successful entrepreneurs are known for their daring and risk-taking abilities. They will not hesitate in taking risks, if they see an opportunity behind it. But obviously, they will not jump blindly into each and every risky situation. They will assess the risk and think about the outcomes, only then will they dive in.

  • Management skills: Having good management skills are a must for successful entrepreneurs. They must know how to manage resources, effort, and money in order to meet organisational goals. They should also know the strength and weaknesses of their employees in order to allocate correct tasks to them. If an entrepreneur does not have proper management skills, it will be difficult for his/her business to survive the competitive environment.

  • Ambitious and hungry: Successful entrepreneurs run businesses because they have an ambition to provide excellent products and services to customers. This ambition and hunger of entrepreneurs plays a huge role in growing their businesses.

  • Knowledge: An entrepreneur obviously needs to have knowledge of his product, the overall market, and the competitors. Businesses cannot succeed if entrepreneurs do not have information and knowledge about their products and the market as a whole.

Entrepreneurial success stories

If you feel you possess the aforementioned entrepreneurial characteristics and need some inspiration, check out the success stories of some of the most famous entrepreneurs below:

  • Jeff Bezos: Known as the richest man on the planet as of now, Bezos’s claim to fame is being the founder and CEO of e-commerce giant - Amazon. He initially worked in the finance sector in New York, after graduating from Princeton. While on a road-trip to Seattle, he came up with the idea for Amazon. He said: “I came across the fact that web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year. I’d never seen or heard of anything that grew that fast, and the idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles — something that simply couldn’t exist in the physical world — was very exciting to me.” After thinking over it with his wife, Bezos decided to plunge into the less conventional path of entrepreneurship, and the rest they say is history.

  • Steve Jobs: Perhaps one of the greatest entrepreneurs ever to exist, Jobs came up with the idea for Apple (multinational technology company), when he saw his future business partner, Steve Wozniak building a small computer as a hobby. After Apple’s initial success, Jobs was ousted from the company due to boardroom politics. The ousting of Jobs led to a drastic downfall of Apple, which was only arrested when Jobs was reappointed CEO in 1997, after a gap of 10 years. From that point in time, Apple continued to rise, and is currently known for its excellent innovation with technology products such as iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. Steve Jobs brilliantly summed up his time with Apple by saying, “We started out to get a computer in the hands of everyday people, and we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

  • Howard Schultz: Howard Schultz is better known as the owner of the worldwide coffee-chain, Starbucks. Starbucks was initially owned by two other partners, and Schultz started off there as marketing director. Schultz used to make frequent trips to Italy to obtain recipes for cappuccinos and lattes. The addition of these beverages turned Starbucks into an overnight success. Since they were present in Seattle, in only a single location. Schultz tried convincing the owners to open up branches and expand. But the owners refused to take such a high risk, which eventually prompted Schultz to purchase Starbucks from them. One of Schultz’s early investors was Bill Gates. Now, Starbucks has become the most popular coffee shop in the world, with over 30,000 outlets in over 70 countries.

  • Mark Zuckerberg: No entrepreneurial success story series can be complete without including Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world and now also owns other social media networks such as WhatsApp and Instagram. Zuckerberg, a Harvard drop-out came up with the idea of creating a social network one night when he was suffering from insomnia. Zuckerberg overcame multiple trials and tribulations to take Facebook where it is today. Facebook is valued at approximately US$ 540 billion as of June 2018.

London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) offers a Postgraduate Certificate Course in Entrepreneurship.

LSBF is an award-winning institution that was founded in 2003 with the aim of delivering industry oriented courses in business and finance to students. LSBF now has campuses located in Sydney and Singapore as well. They also deliver programmes through their online learning platform.

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