As a society, we have a tendency to laud entrepreneurs. We might idolize our rock stars, but it’s our entrepreneurs we aim to emulate. Titans such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Arianna Huffington are looked upon as paragons of success, giants whose every utterance is micro-analyzed and whose punishing schedules are aspired towards. And to a point, that’s understandable. These are men and women, after all, who started out with nothing and rose to create their own kingdom, brushing aside rejections, naysayers, and obstacles along the way.
If you’re going to choose a role model, you could do a lot worse than to model yourself on someone like Elon Musk. Not the 80-hour work weeks and inability to switch off necessarily, but the relentless drive to succeed and the desire to acquire more knowledge would be welcome. When you compare the characteristics of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, you’ll notice the same traits recurring over and over again. That’s no coincidence. Assimilate these qualities into your own personality and you might not become the next Bill Gates or JK Rowling, but you’ll certainly make for a better, more capable person. Think you, but the best possible version of you, and that should be incentive enough.
There’s being passionate about something and then there’s being obsessive. Entrepreneurs have a near fanatical belief in their big idea, even when it sounds crazy to the rest of the world. Eight years ago, an anonymous person or persons named Satoshi Nakamoto had the idea of creating a blockchain-based digital currency called Bitcoin. Many people mocked the notion and were sure that it would never catch on. Today, Bitcoin has spawned a $125 billion cryptocurrency industry and transformed the world.
2. Willingness to take risks
There’s a difference between risk-taking and being reckless. Every entrepreneur who’s made it to the top has a back-to-the-wall tale to tell, one where they bet the house (often literally) on their grand vision, despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, and emerged victoriously. That’s not to say that entrepreneurs have never tasted defeat, however. In fact quite the opposite…
What on earth is bouncebackability? It’s a football term which refers to a team’s ability to recover quickly from defeat. A defining trait of great entrepreneurs is that they view failure as a necessary and valuable lesson, one which only doubles their resolve to do better next time. As Michael Jordan once put it,
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Behind every successful entrepreneur is a string of formative failures. Don’t use failures to put you down – use them to inspire and motivate you to do better.
4. Thirst for knowledge
If there’s one thing that drives entrepreneurs, it’s a desire to learn more. And not just about their chosen industry, or how to invest money, but about everything. They have an innate curiosity for figuring out how things work and are sponges that soak up the wisdom of their peers. It’s no coincidence that many entrepreneurs elect to associate with other visionaries and thought leaders. They get to hang with the best, but you too can learn from those same bright minds through their TED talks, essays, and interviews.
5. Mastery of networking
Making it as an entrepreneur isn’t just about what you know – it’s also about who you know. Without the right team of investors, mentors and colleagues in place, your disruptive idea has no chance of getting off the ground. By getting out there and meeting other people who may be able to help you, both now and in the future, you’ll lay the foundations for business and financial success.
6. They’re great sellers
Selling is an integral part of business, and the best entrepreneurs know how to sell both their ideas and themselves. For your idea to take flight, you need to be able to distill it into a soundbite that anyone can grasp. What’s your elevator pitch? If you can’t explain your idea succinctly, no one can.
7. They bend the rules
There’s a fine line between rule bending and outright rule breaking. To make it as an entrepreneur doesn’t mean resorting to illegal behavior to get ahead. Often though it involves inhabiting gray areas where the law has yet to regulate or engaging in the sort of opportunistic behavior that established companies could never get away with. Uber and Airbnb are prime examples of startups that would have never taken off without a little rule bending to help them get a foot in the door.
Acquiring the same skill set as the best entrepreneurs won’t automatically elevate you into the big-league where fame, money, influence and all the other indicators of success beckon. What it will do however is equip you with a growth mindset that attracts good things: people, opportunities, ideas, and innovations. So go on, get out of your comfort zone, push yourself and unleash your inner entrepreneur.