Entrepreneurs are Everywhere and Possess Similar Traits, Conclusion


Going to work each day brings with it a series of events and experiences either mundane, mildly momentous or moving toward magnificent.Of course difficult days can be the opposite of these ranging from mediocre to complete mayhem. For the entrepreneur, these experiences can aggregate into what eventually becomes success or failure, including rejection and other missteps along the way, as well as momentary epiphanies and exultations when results exceed expectations. So it also goes with regards to both ends of the spectrum and our ongoing discussion of what traits an entrepreneur must have to survive – six of them. We’ve already covered the first three: 1) No requirement for previous experience but must have ability to pull in experts to balance this out, 2) Common sense plus willingness to break rules, 3) Knack for taking risks. You’ll want to read the details for each of these in my previous post. Let’s take on the last three characteristics now, keeping in mind the extremes I just mentioned — mundane or magnificent, success or failure – are scenarios the entrepreneur will most assuredly face and need to navigate to come out on top. ENTREPRENEUR mistakes

4. They Learn From Their Mistakes — Balancing the other side of cocky confidence, entrepreneurs must be humble enough to learn from their experience and failure. Not surprisingly, overconfidence can be a liability that muddles judgement, creates a misconception of control and can lead to lousy decisions. They must learn from their mistakes and – I’ll add — take into account input from others when crucial decisions are being made.

5. They Have the Passion to Persist – I pointed at passion earlier and there are plenty of studies to promote discussing it further. According to researchers at the University of Maryland, passion is a critical ingredient in growing a new, profitable organization, period. Passion ignites inspiration, endorses the dream and deep commitment to purpose which keeps industrialists forging forward and breaking through barriers. Think tenacity combined with “love what you do and love doing it.”ENTREPRENEUR passion work

6. They Are Resilient in the Face of Failure — Resilience rounds out the list. To move forward passionate entrepreneurs must rebound from unexpected challenges and failures, learning from their mistakes and rebuilding. Examples are everywhere – consider Thomas Edison’s 10,000 tries needed to invent the light bulb or the rise and fall and rise again of Steve Jobs. Resilience is not letting failure define you but leveraging lessons which failure provides as an opportunity for a fresh approach.

Our entrepreneurial conversation began with my recounting a breakfast meeting I had with a former colleague who was thinking about starting his own business. Does my friend with the entrepreneurial flame burning inside his belly (it wasn’t the coffee) have what it takes to start his own venture? I believe he does. He’s highly knowledgeable and is carefully gauging what’s necessary to find success glowing and growing like an aspiring sunrise. His vision, passion and expertise are huge, his risk taking is relevant and rational. Good at breaking rules, he owns his mistakes. Hard work is part of his genetic profile, along with incredible resilience. Finally – if he was ever the last kid picked when dodge ball teams were divvied up he always showed up the next day to play again. That alone is massive. How about you? Is becoming an entrepreneur part of your future fortune? Are you ready to find out? Begin with an honest, self-assessment on the above traits then call up a business savvy friend or two and plan on meeting for breakfast.

Side note …Have you ever actually made the entrepreneurial leap? If you have, write to me and let me know what it took to get you to where you are today — your expertise, risks taken, passion pursued — it would be super to hear your experience first hand. My hat’s off to all business owners who forged ahead, dodged the failure bullet and made it work — well done!*

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Entrepreneurs are Everywhere and Possess Similar Traits, Continued


It’s the guy who fixed my sprinkler system, the man who built the custom covers for my window wells and the woman who cuts my hair. What do they all have in common? They’re all entrepreneurs. While selected industrialists started small and became big businesses over many years’ time (think Silicon Valley), others stayed small and were able to earn a satisfying income to support themselves and their family (like your favorite, local pizza place). ENTREPRENEUR sprinkler Either way, they had similar traits like the ones we’re about to explore. As mentioned in my last post, a friend of mine is thinking of striking out and starting his own enterprise. We conducted a back of the envelope assessment to see if he had what it takes to make it work – including a look at Fast Company’s concise checklist for capitalists, as provided in their article: Six Traits Successful Entrepreneurs All Share (fastcompany.com, by Khatera Sahibzada and Rob Bueschen, July 23, 2015). Let’s jump in ….

1. Many Don’t Have Prior Experience
– Few top entrepreneurs were experts in their fields when they first started their ventures, but they did have a great idea propelling them ahead. Turns out, up to half of all startup founders knew nothing about what they were getting into. Hang on — don’t run wildly out of control just yet. Along with their idea, they also had the ability to pull in experts needed to produce a product or service which had market promise. ENTREPRENEUR man idea

2. They Have Both Common Sense and a Willingness to Break Rules
– Since expertise isn’t essential per above, what is? Entrepreneurs must have experience-based skills and knowledge along with the ability to use knowledge and common sense to solve problems. This validates practical intelligence as a critical component for success – in essence, having strong business aptitude and real-world know-how to apply it. But being smart is only a start. Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the London School of Economics found flourishing industrialists often got into trouble as teenagers – breaking the rules, taking things by force, challenging the status quo as opposed to accepting what they were told (per Ross Levine who co-authored the study).

3. They Have A Knack For Taking Risks — While you might expect risk-taking to be a factor, the Berkeley-LSE study found entrepreneurs are less driven by a love of risk-taking than by an aversion to losing. Loss aversion was defined as losing one’s salary and prestige at a full-time job. The bigger the loss aversion the more effort was put into succeeding. Along with hating to lose they love to project confidence – both general and task-specific — in the face of risk. A blend of the two confidences is a strong success indicator as enterprise leaders need to address the unknown with the belief they can turn an idea and related vision into pervasive value despite the hurdles involved.

Time to start contemplating …. Do you have a tendency for talent in the initial three traits? More specifically, what’s your risk taking tolerance? Be honest with yourself and open minded as well. Have you tried to start your own business in the past? How did it go? Are you still in business today? Write to me and let me know if you fit the descriptors just discussed. We’ll talk more when I cover the final three factors next time around … see you then. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Entrepreneurs are Everywhere and Possess Similar Traits


There’s a great little breakfast joint near downtown where I meet a friend every few months to catch up. At our last breakfast he was fuming. No, they didn’t burn his bacon, he ordered it nearly burnt anyway. He was burning about something else — his job. His previous employer had been acquired by another company a year ago and the resulting bad taste in his mouth had been increasing over time. Salaries had been cut, clunky management decisions kept coming and employees who came on board through the acquisition were at the bottom of the list for potential promotions and plum projects. ENTREPRENEUR breakfast

Like the new kid on the block whose name is called last when dodge ball teams are picked, it was unpleasant and professionally demoralizing for my friend and his colleagues who were caught up in the corporate chaos. He was seriously thinking of getting out. Not finding another job but another company – his own. Yup, he had been bitten by the entrepreneur bug and was trying to decide his next move. Our conversation then took a sharp turn into what’s needed to become an entrepreneur. Correction – “successful” entrepreneur. What does it take? You’ve heard the numbers: 80% of small companies fail. What traits make the impresarios who survive stand out? What makes them able to play small business dodge ball better than most, dodge the failure bullet and sustain and grow their enterprise for the long haul?ENTREPRENEUR dodgeball

Entrepreneurs have a passion for what they do and unbridled energy for getting things done. A willingness to work extremely hard is also a genetic requirement. As we started talking through these powerful prerequisites I realized I saw an example of this when I was on vacation earlier this year in Vietnam and Cambodia. In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon,) entrepreneurial energy is everywhere from small vendors along busy, motorcycle clogged streets to the modern and bustling heart of the city. I later learned new money and new companies are widespread since the country leaders changed course around the time the Soviet Union collapsed and began embracing the market economy (Capitalist Soul Rises as Ho Chi Minh City Sheds its Past, New York Times, by Thomas Fuller, July 20, 2015). They began looking for opportunities and fulfilling market needs which contributed to the voracious vitality now in the air.

It turns out whether in another hemisphere or right in our own backyard, entrepreneurial traits are strikingly similar as those my friend was beginning to identify and bring into full throttle – passion, energy, willingness to work hard. I was hungry to know more. What else did he need as part of his capitalistic DNA to be prosperous? Among the many factors that come into play, Fast Company provided a concise list in their article: Six Traits Successful Entrepreneurs All Share (fastcompany.com, by Khatera Sahibzada and Rob Bueschen, July 23, 2015). We’ll dive into these in my next installment.

In the meantime, does this initial peek, pique your interest in becoming an entrepreneur? Do you have what it takes? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts and enthusiasm — or trepidation — associated with striking out on your own. See you next time when we begin to take on the six traits which foretell a likely future of entrepreneurial success.*

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.