Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, colors, sizes, ages, etc. But in my experience, there are a few traits successful entrepreneurs tend to exhibit:
Tenacity. Many startups have limited resources and face constant streams of obstacles. The ones that succeed do more with less, and find ways around road blocks. You will most likely suffer many small failures along the road to success, and you’ll need to shake them off without being overcome by self-doubt. That also takes a lot of confidence.
Flexibility. Ok, this is the mind-bending part of entrepreneurship…. You have to walk a fine line between sticking to your guns, and knowing when to embrace change. When I look at the financial projections in a business plan, I only know one thing for certain: They are wrong. It’s tough enough to predict what will happen at a company with a twenty-year history. Predicting something like sales in the third year of an innovative venture that hasn’t even started to operate is next to impossible. So entrepreneurs need to be good at rolling with the punches.
Salesmanship. Selling is a big part of starting a venture. You can hire or partner with a great salesperson, but if you are a founder, you’ll probably have to sell in one way or another. You’ll be selling your product or service to your customers or clients, of course. But you’ll also have to sell your idea to investors or partners. You’ll have to persuade suppliers to work with a company that doesn’t have an established track record. And you’ll have to convince employees to forgo less risky jobs, and quite possibly to take lower salaries and less attractive benefits.
This scares some people. I’ve had a few clients say “I’m not a salesperson.” Some of them think that to be a salesperson, they need to have experience or training in sales, or to have the demeanor of a fraternity president. While that couldn’t hurt, what’s important is that you can inspire trust, and be charismatic and persuasive.