Several readers have asked me to write about what constitutes a successful entrepreneur. Now, so that I do not mislead you—the reference presented for success embodies the actual launch of an entrepreneurial new venture, not necessarily claiming mountains of money as a benchmark.
As we all may be willing to concede, that is a notable achievement by itself but, through this rapporte’, I would choose to offer you a sketch of Mr Okanagan Entrepreneur – that mystical, magical human that perhaps many of us would gladly emulate given the right set of circumstances. Alright then, Mr. Okanagan Entrepreneur it is.
You will recall, I hope, that in earlier articles, I invited you to embrace the notion that an entrepreneur is a person who looks at the world the same as you and I – but, thinks differently. That person who grasps a perceived opportunity when he or she sees it – analyzes it, evaluates it and arrives at that crescendo of faith that offers: “ I have it, now, I will do it”
OK, If you think you want to be your own boss, run your own innovative enterprise but you are not sure you have the right qualifications, let’s explore the desired recipe together. What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur? How does an entrepreneur think? Is your personal profile similar to that of a successful entrepreneur?
The simple truth the literature tells us is that the majority of us are not born leader, but become entrepreneurial leaders by “ who we are” and the “ actions” we take. (The Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society is designed to help you with those desired actions – see www.OVESociety.org.
To support you in your personal journey toward the entrepreneurial success finish line, please be willing to open your mind, your heart and your sense of reasoning as you consider whether these characteristics are part of your driving force. If they are not yet ingrained in you in some fashion, I would recommend that you give them some serious thought.
Because of some space limitations, I will highlight examples of characteristics in point form for a quick read to get you started on your journey. To add, in my research for this article, I reviewed my scholarly texts, the Internet and previous discussion papers I had authored and readily concluded the complementarity of characteristics across the research landscape.
Let’s now take a brief look at the distinguishing characteristics of effective leadership including those entrepreneurial in nature.
• a global perspective – appreciates differences across cultures, learns from and finds a common ground
• an entrepreneurial spirit – is not afraid to try new ideas and puts a combinations of ideas together to make things happen
• an enterprise design capability – able to put deals together, structure alliances and relationships and build organizations
• a teacher – people in any organization need to learn new things by those leading them i.e. a teacher
• a fundamental value system – integrity, honesty, respect for the dignity of others and very importantly, quotes Dr. John Maxwell, “responsibility.”
I will now give you the shorter version of entrepreneurial characteristics that are quite worth rating yourself on as you investigate the world of entrepreneurial pursuit and consider the trip:
Am I An Entrepreneur?
Drive and energy: the ability to work long hours for sustained periods with less than the normal amount of sleep (ouch)
Self-confidence: a genuine belief in yourself and your ability to achieve your determined goals as an aspiring entrepreneur
Setting challenging but realistic goals: the ability to set clear goals and objectives that are challenging, yet realistic and feasible are worthwhile attributes in any manner of behaviour
Long term involvement: a strong commitment to projects & initiatives that may reach completion in multi-year targets.
Using money as a performance measurement: money, in the form of salaries, profits or capital gain ought to be viewed as a measure of how your enterprise is performing rather than as an end in itself. Evidence-based literature tells us that money is NOT at the top of the entrepreneurs totem pole for success
Persistent problem-solving: must possess an intense and determined desire to solve problems toward completion of tasks. The core essence of entrepreneurial creation is “ seeking problems and finding solutions “
Taking moderate risks: success is generally the result of calculated risk-taking that provides a reasonable and challenging chance of success.
Learning from failure: understanding your role in a failure can be very beneficial in avoiding similar situations in the future and establish a clarity for your personal growth.
Using criticism: You will need to be able to seek and use criticism of the style and substance of your performance At times a bitter pill but acceptance of constructive criticism is acceptance of your willingness to grow and become a true entrepreneurial leader.
I would like to conclude this treatise to-day with perhaps one of the most compelling attributes of any successful entrepreneur that establishes “ how high the bar” has been set by themselves for success. Successful entrepreneurs never give up. It is not in their vocabulary. There may be days when an existing or aspiring entrepreneur feels discouraged or disappointed, but giving up is not an option. Having faith, trust, confidence and determination with some love thrown in the mix are the qualities needed. To keep their focus on track, they will often seek out the support of those who know them, encourage them and bring out their natural enthusiasm. (The Okanagan Entrepreneurs Society earlier mentioned was created for this purpose.)
I believe we have shared with you a pretty solid recipe for personal growth and change and hopefully, the beginnings of your “ entrepreneurial spirit. “
Joel Young is an entrepreneurial leadership coach, educator, consultant and founder of the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.