Entrepreneurship is a skill that seems elusive. No one seems to have a satisfactory answer to the question of whether an entrepreneur is born or made. Some people claim that there are people who are born with a special skill set – ambition, business sense, independence, creativity – and that this is the makings of an entrepreneur. They point to cases like Rockefeller, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates to make their point.
There are other successful businessmen who didn’t start out in an entrepreneurial vein, however. Many successful businessmen started in managerial positions, or even lower positions, before catching entrepreneurial fever. These people are what could be called “made” entrepreneurs.
The question then becomes whether there are certain traits that are common to all entrepreneurs, and necessary for successful entrepreneurship. The answer is yes.
First, a strong sense of independence is crucial. By default, an entrepreneur is independent. For someone to be willing to leave behind a secure position or even a promising career for the risk and uncertainty of going into business for themselves, there needs to be a fierce drive for independence. Any successful entrepreneur will value the ability to chart his or her own destiny over the value of being safe and secure in a regular job.
The ability to maintain focus is the second necessary skill for successful entrepreneurship. It’s not easy starting your own business. There are so many little things that you have to keep track of. Everything from finances to inventory to marketing to employee relations is all your responsibility.
You have to be able to keep your focus on your goal. If you can’t, then your mind will wander and your profits suffer. Business success requires focused effort. All successful entrepreneurs know this, and are able to be disciplined about matters.
The drive to succeed is the final key ingredient to successful entrepreneurship. Without this strong motivation to be successful, it will of course be very easy to lose heart and let your business simply fold.
The startup period is a difficult and critical period in the life of a business, and it can be most disheartening. There is so much work that needs doing, and there are so few clients at the outset! A big part of the entrepreneur’s challenge is to stay motivated during these bleak periods. Plus, to keep your business moving forward you also have to safeguard employee morale.
These three components are the ones that I believe are utterly critical for any person who hopes to be a successful entrepreneur. That does not mean that other qualities, such as creativity or patience or even luck, aren’t also important. But, to me, the three I have listed above are the critical ones that will mean the difference between success and failure.