While every individual is unique, I have observed that there are a few traits that all successful entrepreneurs possess in common, irrespective of any demographic or geographical differences or the domain they are catering to. It’s these traits that make them stand apart from many others and give their business an edge.
Here’s my assessment of those ‘must-have’ traits that make these entrepreneurs good at what they do.
Hunger to learn & ability to unlearn
The first and foremost quality that any entrepreneur must have is the constant hunger to learn. Entrepreneurship is all about taking the plunge into an unexplored territory and therefore one needs to learn from various stakeholders and people they meet in day-to-day life. When one has a thirst to learn, he/she is more open to new things, new thought processes, new logics, different approaches, and different perceptions. One should be ready to listen to the investors who make investments in many companies and understand the market well or any mentor who has the domain knowledge. In fact even a team member can teach you ways to do something more efficiently and effectively, but you have to be receptive to such things. Unless you have the urge to learn from everyone you meet, you will get stuck in your own beliefs.
Sometimes, it is important to unlearn things specially when we fail. Usually, it is said that we learn from our mistakes; but entrepreneurship is different. A failed entrepreneur tends to plan, and then plan more; to further analyze things etc, which are important, but sometimes are done in excess. When you are starting afresh on an idea or an approach, it is important to unlearn what is learned because this learning can stop us in moving ahead with same spirit. From my own journey,I have realized that the ability to unlearn things help you start with a fresh mind and immense energy.
However, what is even more important is the ability to unlearn. In my journey as an entrepreneur I have realized that the ability to quickly figure out where you are going wrong, unlearning and then relearning to get on the right track can sometimes make all the difference between success and failure.
Acknowledge your limitations
Having strong self-confidence is indeed a good trait for an entrepreneur, but what is most crucial is to know yourself in and out. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to acknowledge their weakness and work on them to get better results.
In fact, a smart entrepreneur will choose investors, advisors, and even co-founders wisely and will look for someone who will make up for his/her weaknesses and compliment him/her to derive maximum synergy. They are more open to taking advice from those who are more competent in the areas where they feel they are weak. This is vital to succeed as a startup because while you can make mistakes in the initial phase and get away with it since people still don’t know you in the market, once you are fairly established, have raised funds and a have a recognizable brand name, a small mistake can adversely impact your business. If you have the right competencies together as team, if not as an individual, you are less likely to go wrong.
Pick up any successful entrepreneur and you are most likely to find that they are extremely adaptable. Without this crucial trait there’s no way one can live in the ever-changing market dynamics. Flexibility will give you the ability to respond quickly to any situation and empower you to stay ahead in the game. As an organization grows it becomes all the more complex and it is absolutely important for an entrepreneur to take decisions based on logic rather than intuition. It certainly helps if you accommodate other points of view or advice, particularly if they have the right experience and competence related to your business and if that advice can have a direct bearing on the performance of your business.
Any person who has decided to become an entrepreneur needs to have a clear set of goals and he has to be fully determined to reach his goal no matter how many roadblocks come in the way to achieving his/her dreams. It’s about not giving up in the most testing times. Lack of willpower and determination will only make you crumble under pressure, which will hamper the prospects of your business.
Bruna Martinuzzi, in her book,The Leader as a Mensch has rightly said – “Humility is all about maintaining our pride about who we are, about our achievements, about our worth, but without arrogance. It is the antithesis of hubris, that excessive, arrogant pride which often leads to the derailment of some corporate heroes. Humble entrepreneurs never have the dearth of good people who want to work with and for them.”
While you may or may not already possess these traits, you can always work at getting better at the aforementioned spheres to up your game!
Co-founder & CEO at LazyLad. Prior to LazyLad he Co-founded PrepGuru. He is Computer Science Graduate from Indian Institute of Technology – Guwahati.