What characteristics or skills define a successful entrepreneur? Of course, being technologically savvy will save you time and certain expenses, but this alone will not take an idea to market or provide an unrivaled service customers cannot live without. The defining characteristics of an entrepreneur are vastly varied and any combination can equate success, but the question is, do YOU have what it takes?
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs, in simple terms, can be defined as those individuals that are comfortable and willing to take risk. This can go hand-in-hand with those people that look at starting a business and growing it as a manageable gamble with potential to reap financial return. [i]
In all actuality, entrepreneurship does not necessarily require you to start your own business, but can also represent those people who take the initiative to create, whether that be processes, ideas, or products. Entrepreneurs are resourceful, imaginative and free-thinking.
Regardless of the dictionary definition, one thing is for sure, becoming an entrepreneur is not always easy. Those that gravitate towards this career path possess a certain set of traits that have a common thread. Identifying what makes a successful entrepreneur can help you to evaluate if you are up for the test.
There are certain professional qualities that can be learned, but there are personal traits that are more difficult to hone.
What innate skills foster success?
Optimism: Are you a positive thinker? Let’s be clear, there will be challenges along the way, and it is important be optimistic, to consistently look for solutions when times get tough. Finding a business model and an efficient team is not always easy, but having a good outlook can make a world of difference.
Initiative: Are you a go-getter? Are you self-motivated? Do you unconsciously look for business improvement and solutions?
Vision: Can you see the future? You’re not clairvoyant, but you know where you want to be in five years, and you will see to it that you make it to the goal post. Can you take this foresight, define it clearly with achievable benchmarks and motivate a team to help you realize the "big picture," you are striving for?
Need to Control: Do you gravitate towards leadership roles. Do you like being in charge, held accountable and the key decision maker?
Persistence and Drive: Beginnings are never easy. Are you willing and able to commit for the long haul and see to it that you achieve your aspirations?
Risk Tolerance: Everyone’s willingness to take risk is different. Some dwell over it, jumping in to the great abyss of change, scares them, crippling their every move. Others thrive off taking risks and gravitate toward the dark chasm that is uncertainty.
Thick Skin: Are you resilient? Can you take criticism? How do you react in the face of failure? Business is not for the faint at heart. There will be ups and downs, but what counts is if you can weather the waves.
These are inherent traits that are more difficult to teach and are often a product of conditioning from our parents, siblings, teachers and other influencers.
On the flip side, business skills and professional experience are learned and have an enormous effect on entrepreneurship. They provide the foundation in which a company can build upon. These traits are dynamic, allowing a business team room to grow and adapt to changes in the market and internal circumstances. Often viewed as “jack-of-all-trades,” successful entrepreneurs and small business owners, possess the right combination of horizontal and vertical skills to manage people, motivate teams and inspire greatness. [ii]
What are the professional skills every entrepreneur must possess?
1. Finances: Investments, Sales and Expenditures
Money management, whether you expend your own finances or you have investment backing, it is important to be knowledgeable in this area. Raising capital is not always easy; it takes persuasive skills to make a convincing argument that your business is worth the risk.
2. Stress Management
This sounds out of place, but it is not. If you allow yourself to get bent about setbacks or challenges, you will struggle as an entrepreneur. Learning tools to alleviate stress or make it work in your favor will help navigate the demanding road ahead.
Everyone has their own way of working. From peak hours, rituals, and motivational activities to creating a personalized schedule that accounts for coffee breaks and team building. Figure out what works for you and run with it. There is no right way, but find the means to stay energized and goal driven.
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with," according to entrepreneur Jim Rohn. [iii] Who do you surround yourself with? Think wisely and choose those individuals that inspire your growth and encourage you in the face of obstacles.
No one is perfect and that is alright, so long as you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Reflecting on this will influence certain business decisions, partners you contract and team members you hire.
Your team can make or break you. Fostering comradery and bringing in complimentary skill sets will only strengthen your business performance. Take your time, hiring the right individuals will get you exactly where you want to go.
Hiring the right individuals puts your company on the right track, but the tipping point is making sure there are policies and training methods in place to make sure everyone understands what is expected of them and there are clear and measurable business objectives in place.
8. Effective Manager
You are the face of the company, especially in the beginning. Your team will only be as great as their leader. Inspire those around you by setting a good example. Take time to learn about your employees, motivate them, encourage them and take a vested interest in their development. This will cultivate loyalty and retention.
9. Basic Understanding of SEO
This is not a deal breaker, but it can definitely save you some money. It can also give you peace of mind when talking to investors, developers and directing the future growth of your business.
10. Socially Connected
In line with SEO, it is important to be well informed about various marketing channels. It is imperative to understand how each platform operates and the various tools at your disposal to boost your brand awareness.
11. Customer Services Oriented
Identifying your target customer will help stream line your branding, sales campaigns, products and services. Without a customer base, there is no need for your company to exist. Customer service comes first and foremost. Do your research and have a full comprehension of their needs and how you plan to address them.
12. Sales Junkie
Don’t feel awkward trying to close the sale. This insecurity is detectable and will not convince the customer to commit. Be confident. If you struggle here, take classes and master the art of closing the sale.
13. Trend Spotter
Know your competition. In a globalized economy, business can change overnight, and it is crucial to stay ahead of the pack. Make it a top priority to stay up-to-date on other start-ups in your field, as well as advances in technology that could cause your business to derail.
14. Desire to Create Change
An inherent drive to make a difference in this world will give you that extra motivation to see your business through, no matter what trials get in your way. [iv]
Don’t let this list intimidate you. If you find yourself lacking in one of these areas don’t stress. An education in entrepreneurship is accessible. The curriculum has the entrepreneurial mindsight as the primary focus, highlighting these exact skills and other fundamentals in business.
GBSB Global Business School invites students to participate in one of the most innovative MBA degree programs in Barcelona, Spain and in Europe. Our approach to business education aims to change the very concept of MBA and prepare the business leaders needed in today's highly globalized world.
Another option, that is not your traditional MBA is GBSB Global Business School Barcelona’s Master in Entrepreneurship, an advanced graduate degree. The MSc in Entrepreneurship provides students with the tools to acquire the skills and competencies needed for successful entrepreneurship careers and business in a dynamic international market. It is an exciting program designed to equip students with a specialized understanding of the field of entrepreneurial management.
By Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Content Manager
[i] Mind Tools Editorial Team. Entrepreneurial Skills: The Skills You Need to Build a Great Business. Mind Tools. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_76.htm
[ii] Business and entrepreneurship skills and experience. Innovation Policy Platform. Retrieved from https://www.innovationpolicyplatform.org/content/business-and-entrepreneurship-skills-and-experience.com
[iii] [iv] Patel, Sujan. 09 February 2015. The 17 Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242327