You have two smart people: one turns out extremely successful in business and the other is an ultimate failure. So what’s the difference between the two? And what are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
I remember a wanna-be entrepreneur I met years ago. His name was Sam. Sam believed he had a great idea. He had been thinking about developing his idea into a viable product for several years. He had saved up enough money to develop his product. But he needed additional funding to market the product and put together the company’s infrastructure. Sam knew there was financial risk but believed the product would sell itself.
One of Sam’s friends, Melanie, worked for a venture capital firm who was always looking for new companies to invest in. Melanie told Sam she would introduce him to her boss. Melanie then explained to Sam that her boss initially would do two things. First, he would listen to you about your idea and evaluate it. Then he would evaluate you and see if he thought you have the qualities he believes are need to be successful in running your own business. Melanie told Sam that in order for her boss to consider investing, both of those conversations needed to go well.
Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur
Melanie explained to Sam what her boss believed were qualities of a successful entrepreneur. They were:
Drive: The tenacity and perseverance to succeed; you refuse to lose and you overcome rejection.
Thinking ability: Making reasoned judgments and assuming responsibility for those decisions. The successful entrepreneur acts rather than reacts.
Aptitude for human relations: Dealing with people well, by motivating employees to do their very best, selling to customers and negotiating with vendors for the best contract provisions, and convincing lenders to provide you the financing you need with the right terms.
Ability to communicate: Knowing how to get your point or position across to another person or group in a succinct, understandable way without losing their interest or respect for you.
Technical expertise: Knowing the details of the products or services you sell, the available market and your competitors and you know what you don’t know.
Which of these is the most important? I’d say drive.
Everyone dreams of winning the lottery. Most young sports fans dream of pitching in the World Series, or beating the buzzer with a jump shot in the final game of an NBA Championship series or winning an Olympic gold medal. Many folks dream of following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Walt Disney by developing something that is revolutionary.
But it takes hard work, lots of luck and the right personality type.
The Right Personality Type to be a Successful Entrepreneur
Before you start your business venture, consider whether you really have the right personality type to be an entrepreneur. Lots of studies tell us which personality traits entrepreneurs have in common, and corresponding questionnaires tell us where we might fail.
One such questionnaire, developed by Mary Frankes and Thomas Harrison and called the Measure of Entrepreneurial Instinct, was based upon the widely used, five-factor model of personality (identified in 1985 by Paul Costa Jr. and Robert McCrae). The five factors underpinning the model are:
1. Openness to Experience – You think creatively, try new things, have many interests and are intellectually curious. How receptive are you to new experiences and ideas?
2. Conscientiousness – You are determined, organized, logical, reliable, and you get things done. How dependable are you? Can other people always count on you?
3. Extroversion – You are aggressive, self-confident, enthusiastic, enjoy meeting with other people, and you get edgy when there is downtime. Are you the person that everyone knows and are you frequently the center of attention?
4. Agreeableness – You build strong relationships, are well liked and get along well with others. Do you get along and work well with teams?
5. Neuroticism – You are usually a positive person who does not let the heat of the moment get you down. When things get tough do you react by staying upbeat, keeping your team up, and getting things done?
Tools to Help Determine if You Should Be Leading Your Own Enterprise
Want to dig deeper? These questionnaires will help you assess whether or not you should be leading your own enterprise.
Measure Your Entrepreneurial Instinct by Mary Frakes and Thomas Harrison
Entrepreneurial Potential Self-Assessment by Business Development Bank of Canada
Entrepreneur Personality Test by Garret LaPorto
Not all studies about personality types or questionnaires identifying personality traits are one hundred percent correct. However, the ones included here include many truths.
So if you don’t see yourself having the vast majority of these personality traits, consider whether leading your own business is the right course of action for you. You might be better off as the right-hand person of a true entrepreneurial leader.
Do you think you have the right personality to be an entrepreneur?