Who can become an entrepreneur? There is no one definitive profile. Successful entrepreneurs come in various ages, income levels, gender, and race. They differ in education and experience. But research indicates that most successful entrepreneurs share certain personal attributes, including: creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility, leadership, passion, self-confidence, and “smarts.”
Creativity is the spark that drives the development of new products or services or ways to do business. It is the push for innovation and improvement. It is continuous learning, questioning, and thinking outside of prescribed formulas.
Dedication is what motivates the entrepreneur to work hard, 12 hours a day or more, even seven days a week, especially in the beginning, to get the endeavor off the ground. Planning and ideas must be joined by hard work to succeed. Dedication makes it happen.
Determination is the extremely strong desire to achieve success. It includes persistence and the ability to bounce back after rough times. It persuades the entrepreneur to make the 10th phone call, after nine have yielded nothing. For the true entrepreneur, money is not the motivation. Success is the motivator; money is the reward.
Flexibility is the ability to move quickly in response to changing market needs. It is being true to a dream while also being mindful of market realities. A story is told about an entrepreneur who started a fancy shop selling only French pastries. But customers wanted to buy muffins as well. Rather than risking the loss of these customers, the entrepreneur modified her vision to accommodate these needs.
Leadership is the ability to create rules and to set goals. It is the capacity to follow through to see that rules are followed and goals are accomplished.
Passion is what gets entrepreneurs started and keeps them there. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to convince others to believe in their vision. It can’t substitute for planning, but it will help them to stay focused and to get others to look at their plans.
Self-confidence comes from thorough planning, which reduces uncertainty and the level of risk. It also comes from expertise. Self-confidence gives the entrepreneur the ability to listen without being easily swayed or intimidated.
“Smarts” consists of common sense joined with knowledge or experience in a related business or endeavor. The former gives a person good instincts, the latter, expertise. Many people have smarts they don’t recognize. A person who successfully keeps a household on a budget has organizational and financial skills. Employment, education, and life experiences all contribute to smarts.
Every entrepreneur has these qualities in different degrees. But what if a person lacks one or more? Many skills can be learned. Or, someone can be hired who has strengths that the entrepreneur lacks. The most important strategy is to be aware of strengths and to build on them.