The term entrepreneur was coined in France over 200 years ago. According to Wikipedia “an entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome”.
The challenges that faced entrepreneurs in the 1800’s have not changed significantly. There any many who chose this path and failed, as well as, many who chose not to try. However, there are many who have succeeded, improved their standard of living, introduced innovation, new products and services, provided jobs and significantly catalyzed economic change.
From my observation of and interaction with successful entrepreneurs I discovered seven characteristics they all have in common:
Every one of the successful entrepreneurs that I have had the pleasure to meet all had a clearly defined vision. Once they defined this vision, they were all able to articulate, share it, sell it and live it.
Sometimes this vision or idea comes to you in the shower, or when you are asleep, and it hits when you are least thinking about it. Learn to pay attention to your subconscious, keep a note pad handy, so you can capture thoughts, inspirations, or ideas.
In order to be a successful entrepreneur you must recognize your vision and be willing to commit to it!
To be a successful entrepreneur, you must be bold. According to captain Kirk of the Star Trek Enterprise you must “boldly go where no man has gone before”.
Bill Gates was an entrepreneur that was bold, one who left Harvard before graduation to form Microsoft, and to create software such as Windows.
He could have chosen the safe path, graduated, found a highly paid job and be “successful”, but because he was bold, he chose another path and became one of youngest self made billionaires in history.
WILLING TO RISK IT ALL
Every successful entrepreneur has been willing to risk it all. You also must be willing to lose in order to make quantum leaps.
I am not suggesting that everyone mortgage all his assets to start a new business, but I have noticed that most, if not all, of the successful entrepreneurs took significant personal financial risks in order to make their vision a reality.
My suggestion would be to seek professional advice, build a business plan, financials, conduct market surveys and select a strong and experienced support structure before you venture out.
I had the pleasure of interacting with Michael Lee Chin, one of the richest black men in the world. He has many entrepreneurial attributes, but the one that stood out for me was his immense passion for the financial services industry.
He told me a story, of when he first started out in the 1970’s, in his suit, with his Jamaican accent, going out to farmers in the outskirts of Canada to convince them of the benefits of financial planning. That took passion! Soon after he was able to purchase his first Rolls Royce and eventually he was added to the Forbes and Fortune list. He has had many challenges, but is still passionate and that will continue to play an important role in his success.
If you feel truly passionate about anything that you can turn into a product or service, you have one of the qualities of success.
COMMITMENT AND SWEAT EQUITY
When we look at successful people, we sometimes take a snapshot of their current circumstance and pay attention to all of the trappings of success. However, what is not always evident, are the countless hours of working night after night, day after day, staying the course in order to achieve your vision.
I once heard a story of a sculptor who needed a smaller portion of very hard rock to complete his masterpiece. He studied the rock carefully, took up his hammer and started to hit at one spot, over and over. Many days passed and the task seemed impossible, but he tirelessly continued and one day, the entire rock split just as he wanted it to.
Like him we must choose a niche in the market, something we are passionate about, and with pin-point precision, be committed to it and like that sculptor your commitment and sweaty equity will be rewarded.
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY
In order to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be creative and innovative. I was driving past one of the embassies in my homeland when I observed an excellent example of creativity. In order to get the visa, many persons needed passport-sized photos, but usually forgot this requirement. On arriving at the office, they had to find somewhere close by to get the photo or lose their precious appointment.
Opposite to this embassy was a parking lot, with a small booth for the parking attendant. She observed the problems of obtaining a photograph. Quickly she purchased an instant camera, and catered to their needs. She was able to make 20 times her income as a car park attendant by being creative and innovative.
I am sure if you take a look at your community, you can find many examples of innovation and creativity of successful businesspersons. I challenge you to push fear aside and allow your ideas and creativity to flow.
I recently was a support facilitator of a youth entrepreneur program in my country and had the pleasure of interacting with approximately 30 young entrepreneurs. Each one of them had business cards with titles such as Managing Director, Owner and CEO. I was pleased to observe their self-perceptions as leaders and their ease in assuming their roles.
As a successful entrepreneur, you must be able to be mentally, emotionally, and socially ready to lead. You must be prepared to make tough decisions, and take full responsibility for the outcomes.
Leaders maintain a positive outlook in the face of challenges and difficulties and keep forging forward to achieve their vision. This quality will quickly attract your team, who would work side by side with you to continue to build your dream. Leadership is vital to the achievement of entrepreneurial success!
For all those entrepreneurs that have shared with me your experiences, I say thank you. Keep forging ahead, breaking barriers and making the world in which we live a better place.
My hope for the aspiring entrepreneurs is that the seven tips in this article will give you an insight into what is required to be successful!
By Inshan Meahjohn
BA, MABE, RFC
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