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Top 10: entrepreneurial qualities….

There’s a book ‘How I Made It’ by Rachel Bridge, which is an easy and entertaining read about how 40 entrepreneurs made it big.  Having read the book, and from working with others who have become successful in their own field, here are my top ten characteristics for being a successful entrepreneur:

1: A positive, can do attitude: if they don’t think it is possible, or that they can’t do it, then it’s impossible to succeed.  Those who think they can’t, are right: their attitude will stop them progressing.  Everyone who makes it through their own efforts has to think that it’s possible, and that they can do it…

2: Passion: successful entrepreneurs are passionate – almost obsessed – about their dreams, visions, products or ideas.  They won’t take no for an answer.  Their passion drives them on, and also attracts others to buy in to their world – important when needing backers…

3: Self belief: they completely believe that they can do it; that they have the way, the means, the vision, and that they don’t have to rely on others to succeed.  That they can disregard the doubters and naysayers.  This can of course border on over-confidence, delusion, or even arrogance…but how many people who, having been accused of those characteristics, went on to prove the doubters wrong…?

4: Hard work: almost every successful entrepreneur has been prepared to work all the hours available – often to the exclusion of other things, including family.  They are not frightened of hard work, and will do any task – any task – necessary to make the enterprise succeed…

5: Failure as feedback: many successful entrepreneurs don’t make it first time, or even with their first idea or product.  so it’s back to the drawing board.  They never give up – instead, they reflect, deeply and thoroughly, on what went wrong, so they don’t make the same mistake twice.  They don’t see failure as discouraging, more an opportunity to learn and apply the learning next time round…

6: Persistence: this is closely associated with the previous point.  Successful entrepreneurs have stickability – dogged determination, even if the odds seem stacked against them.  In fact, the harder it is, and the more others are sceptical, the more determined they seem to become.  Many very successful entrepreneurs persist beyond the point that most people give up: Frederick Forsyth (author, Day of the Jackal) had 17 rejections before a publisher accepted the book; Colonel Sanders (Founder of KFC) had his recipe accepted by the 1,017th restaurant he tried…!

7: Seize the day: many entrepreneurs see an opportunity, and go for it immediately.  They don’t talk about ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’, they grab the opportunity they’ve seen – before someone else does.  They take the chance, rather than talk it to death.  They largely sign up to the maxim: ‘he who hesitates is lost…’

8: Take a risk: being a successful entrepreneur is not for the cautious or faint hearted.  They’d rather try and fail, than play safe.  So for such people, security issues (home, nice furnishings, stability, 2 holidays a year) have little or no appeal.  Many remortgage their homes to keep the business going.  They are turned on by entirely different ‘energisers’ – risk, the chase, the challenge, going where no one else has gone, feeling alive….

9: Listen to the heart: they trust their own instincts, their own intuition, their inner voice.  Their decisions are often (initially) emotional, rather than rational.  They turn a deaf ear to ‘logical’ advice and the voice of ‘reason’, if it is resistant to their idea

10: Optimism: almost every entrepreneur has an optimistic, positive, sunny disposition.  In many ways this is the sum of the above: they believe in the best, not the worst; they see opportunity, not threat; they are often naive in their confidence; they are not easily discouraged or deflected; they generate positive, enthusiastic and energised vibes, and see most failure as an opportunity to ‘get it better/right’ next time.

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