Every Entrepreneur has certain attributes that give them the abilities to take the risks necessary to start a business. 23 research studies were analyzed and business experts found that entrepreneurs score higher on certain traits than corporate managers. They score far higher on traits such as openness to experience (curiosity, innovation), higher on conscientiousness (self-discipline, motivation), and lower on neuroticism, which allows them to better tolerate stress. Here are seven of the attributes of the successful entrepreneur.
Tenacity is arguably the most important thing you need for starting a business. It is also known as persistence, perseverance, determination, resilience, single-mindedness, and a stick-to-itiveness like you’ve never had before. Mike Colwel, an angel investor who works at the Business Innovation Zone says, “Tenacity is number 1. So much of entrepreneurship is dealing with repeated failure.” Remember the simple success theory that to reach success, you must fail many times along the way.
There are many stories of Tenacity, but one is of Colonel Sanders. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Sanders created his “secret recipe” for fried chicken in July 1940. It involved cooking the chicken in a pressure fryer that cooked the chicken faster than pan-frying. He went to over 1000 places looking for someone to buy his secret recipe, and just after 1000 he sold the recipe to Pete Harman of South Salt Lake, Utah. They franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken (picture of first store in So. Salt Lake below), and within the first year at Harman’s restaurant, sales more than tripled with 75% of the increase coming from fried chicken sales. It’s almost always a similar story too, where the founders of a company struggle but persist for an extended period of time until they finally sell their beloved product to a buyer. Thank you, Colonel Sanders, for the delicious chicken wings.
Many people believe that entrepreneurs are driven solely by money, but most of them are actually driven by a passion for their product or service. You need to love what your doing enough to have the passion to persist through the challenges that arise. Entrepreneurs believe in their product, in what they’re doing, and they often want to change the world. As Jay Friedlander, a professor of sustainable businesses who advises entrepreneurs, says, “Most entrepreneurs I know believe they will change the world.” So they believe that what they have to offer will have a positive impact on humanity, and he adds, “There’s an excitement and belief in what they’re doing that gets them through the hard times.” So, it’s that belief, excitement, or passion for what your doing that is part of the fuel that will keep you going. Remember, if you are trying to start a business, or be successful in another epic way, remember that you have to be passionate about what you’re doing, and you have to love the people your doing it for. Here’s a beautiful picture of love in flames to remind you to do what you love and have passion for what you do.
Tolerance of Fear
This trait of successful entrepreneurs is all about risk-taking. With any risk you undertake in business, life, relationships, etc., you will need to be able to face the fears of uncertainty and potential failure and take action in spite of that fear.
Since these are traits especially important to entrepreneurs, lets look at what Michael Sherrod, a Texas entrepreneur says about fear. He says, “It all boils down to being able to successfully manage fear.” He sees the ability to control fear as the most important one because of fears like running out of cash, missing payroll, possible bankruptcy, being humiliated for a bad product, etc. Another business person, Blashack Strahan says, “We have the power to control our thoughts. When we commit mentally, our actions follow.” She had an idea, and there was resistance from others, but she persisted. She said, “No, this idea is going to work,” and when she used her mental power to push through the fear, her company grew and had sales of $98 million in 2012.
Since I like to get real and talk about things like extreme sports too, let’s look at that for a moment. At the skatepark, you deal with fears all the time. Just being at the park can be scary if there are intimidating riders going really fast, yelling, getting angry, throwing their boards around, etc. Once you deal with the fears coming from everyone else, then you have your own obstacles to conquer. Every trick you want to do comes with risks, and those risks create fear. The more fear you can face, the bigger tricks you can do, but as the risks get bigger, the chance of getting injured increases. Here is a prime example of a professional rollerblader Franky Morales assessing the risk of a roof gap.
He’s probably thinking, “Man, I could get some gnarly road rash if I biff this trick.” But you’ll see in a second what happens when you face your fears. He’s scoping out the gap, weighing the risk, and probably feeling some heavy fear from the chance of falling. So what happens when he commits to the trick and busts through the fear…
Here is the extreme and exciting shot of Mr. Morales flying over the enormous gap.
So you have to weigh out all of the risks, and make decisions on how big of risks you want to take. The same is true in business, and to summarize this attribute, being able to take risks, and tolerate or face the fear that comes with those risks, is an essential attribute for people trying to start their own business, and in my opinion, anyone in search of success.
In Part two of this article we will go over the final four traits of successful entrepreneurs. Some of these are Vision, Self-Belief, Flexibility, and Rule-breaking so don’t miss it. See you there.