Entrepreneurs are Everywhere and Possess Similar Traits, Continued

July 3rd, 2016


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.

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