Entrepreneurial success has been the stuff of corporate legend, case studies, even pop culture-from movies (“Steve Jobs”) to TV shows (“Silicon Valley”) for a long time now. The fact that there has been no dearth of enterprising pioneers coming on the scene from Elon Musk to Zuckerberg, in recent years, only furthers the interest. Silicon Valley has never been more aspirational, headline-grabbing and fantasy-like it is today.
Before we delve into the elusive formula- “How to become an entrepreneur?”- that makes all the aforementioned entrepreneurs who they are, we should pause to reflect why entrepreneurship is perceived as an attractive career avenue. Perhaps it has something to do with the rare, dogged and path-breaking zeal and characteristics of an entrepreneur which ensures a dream to turn into reality. A reality, that not only leaves a legacy, causes some sort of change-economic or social, but also spreads a bit of magic along the way. It was this unrelenting faith in his dream that enabled Walt Disney to bring magic–literally into our entertainment world.
Or perhaps it is an outcome of exceptional, creative thinking. Perhaps it is all this and much more.
Here are a few of the most striking traits that are associated with successful entrepreneurs across industries:
Keen eye to recognize business opportunities: An entrepreneur envisions a business idea after carefully weighing all the opportunities. So, the efficacy of the idea, really depends upon how well you spot a market opportunity over other attractive opportunities- at the right time. It involves acting on an insight into how a gap, for instance, in a product offering or process can be improved or how various resources can be galvanized to produce a new operations mechanism altogether. The decision to select a particular path needs to be made by reconciling your ambition with the available resource channels and the requisite skills necessary to see the vision through.
Unwavering, optimistic passion: The tenacity and conviction with which you pursue your dream, confront obstacles and craft solutions to progress ahead sets you apart as a leader. A great businessman is one who holds onto hope like it is the only capital available. For, the road to entrepreneurial greatness is fraught with many complex turns, which need to be accepted and then navigated with a positive equanimity. You need to treasure the drive that allows you to clock in extra hours when required and perform the same tasks with unfazed vigor. Also, any entrepreneurial achievement can be traced to the individual`s resilience, deep self-confidence and self-reliance. These, truly, are the qualities of an effective leader. Qualities that entrepreneurs like Oprah Winfrey or Henry Ford or even Thomas Edison embody. We all know that their professional and personal lives were not without hardships but their self-belief led them to touch human lives in a remarkable way.
Curiosity and a quest for innovation: All successful entrepreneurs detest complacency and are naturally curious about their surroundings. They are forever seeking answers. “Why did the recently launched product result in 10% revenue growth as compared to 8% spike for products launched in previous two quarters?” “Why can`t the training expenses be reduced further?”. When you approach a situation with a child-like wonder, you find newer and imaginative ways to deliver results. Develop an outlook that is forward-looking, one which enables you to foresee industry trends that could prove considerably disruptive.
An appetite for risk: Entrepreneurship is the management of your foray into the unknown. It is by no means a reckless adventure into an industry, just for the heck of it. It demands meticulous planning and rigorous due diligence, no doubt. However, if after due analysis and advice, the returns far outweigh the inherent risks, then gather the courage to dive into your vision whole-heartedly. Be self-assured to realize that your planning would serve you well to face any uncertainty, if it so arises. Learn to get comfortable outside your comfort-zone.
Sound decision-making: Critical thinking is the most essential ingredient for effective business management. Your ability to understand the intricacies of a problem, produce a breakthrough and apply it to situations which may not seem directly related can be classified as some of the success factors. All famous entrepreneurs are hailed for their assertive and steadfast decision making. Indecision and entrepreneurship are really not compatible. For decisions to be sound, invest appropriate time and resources to plan clearly and completely. Dispel any unproductive elements related to processes or your team`s effort. View each decision, whether small or big in terms of the scope of its intended outcome and then prioritize accordingly. Be realistic in laying an actionable and feasible course for yourself and your team.
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Disciplined Management: An entrepreneur dons many hats during the course of his/her work. You need to stay abreast with the developments pertaining to multiple projects and conditions in the external environment. You need to swiftly complete essential tasks and accommodate for any intermittent contingency. It is because of these multi-tasking and leadership skills that Andrew Carnegie is known as an author, journalist and an entrepreneur. Along with all this, entrepreneurs are expected to be competent in matters concerning finance. From constructing budgetary frameworks, to monitoring actual expenses and capital composition; areas of finance should not seem intimidating to you. Resources including capital and time are limited and entrepreneurs are pragmatic enough to realize that.
Persuasive Communication and Networking: Empowered by the strength of your communication skills, you can persuade various stakeholders-vendors, board members, investors, team members to understand your perspective and negotiate your way to an amicable solution. This is important when you are aiming to win over vital connections from clients to investors. Similarly, eagerly building on a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors is crucial for the promotion of your idea as well as personal brand. Attending industry events, reaching out to mentors from the industry or alumni from your B-school can prove extremely useful. Such mentors can not only absorb the stress and offer valuable advice in areas where you feel unsure but also provide connections to whom you can outsource some aspects of your business.
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