Just like aspiring artists, musicians and actors, there’s no shortage of hopefuls who imagine themselves as born entrepreneurs. The problem is that both tend to imagine the throngs of adoring fans (or customers) throwing money at their feet before considering the work, grit and determination that are required for success.
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In both cases, a collection of key attributes tends to separate the doers from the pretenders.
GOBankingRates spoke to a variety of entrepreneurs who started businesses from all over the spectrum — and a few central themes kept popping up. Are you wondering if you have the traits that are universal to just about every successful founder?
You Have an Unrelenting Work Ethic and Commitment to Learning
Jeff Neal, the founder of the Critter Depot, began selling baby chicks as a side hustle until he built his hatchery into a full-time gig. In his mind, the two defining characteristics of a born entrepreneur are an eagerness to work hard and to always keep learning. He also believes that one begets the other.
“If a person has a relentless work ethic, they are likely to do well as an entrepreneur,” said Neal. “However, a person also needs to have a desire to continue learning because running a business is always a practice. Meaning, there are always going to be new things to learn that you can execute to make your team and operation run more efficiently, which is why having that relentless work ethic is important for being an entrepreneur.”
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You Have a Competitive Spirit
It’s easy to assume that founders launch businesses to make money, and to some degree, that’s true — but dollar signs are usually a secondary consideration. If material gain is your only motivation, it won’t be enough to get you out of bed on the hard days that are always just around the corner.
More than anything in the world — including money — the born entrepreneur loves to compete and hates to lose.
“The success of an entrepreneur’s venture depends heavily on their ability to achieve their objectives,” said Kirill Sajaev, founder of AUQ.io. “Entrepreneurs, by their very nature as high-functioning humans, cannot help but enjoy a healthy degree of healthy competition.”
You’re a Frugal and Diligent Money Manager
If your finances are a wreck in your personal life, you shouldn’t expect to gain much traction in business. Entrepreneurs have to be meticulous money managers to succeed.
“When it comes to running a business, budgeting is no joke,” said Lulu Albanna, co-founder of WRC Media. “Businesses that aren’t profitable waste money on things like lavish marketing displays or unneeded conference travel, which is a waste of their limited resources. You’re already ahead of the game if you’re adept at managing your money. In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must be able to successfully budget, spend, and use money as a growth tool.”
You Take the Initiative and Thrive With Limited Supervision
Most successful business owners had jobs before they struck out on their own, and when they were working for someone else, chances are good that they didn’t spend a lot of time waiting for that someone else to give them direction.
“You have a ‘get-it-done’ personality and figure out how to achieve the objectives of your role with minimal instruction,” said Smita D. Jain, founder and CEO of Empower Yourself. “If you are always ready to take on new responsibilities and your hand is the first to go up when your manager is looking for solutions, then you are meant to be an entrepreneur.”
Hard Work and Heavy Responsibility Suits You
The popular image of the boss kicking back with his feet up on the desk and barking out orders to obedient underlings is not a scenario that the average entrepreneur would recognize. In reality, the boss is usually the hardest worker in any business.
“To be an entrepreneur means carrying a whole lot of responsibilities, a busy work schedule, long working hours and a new challenge to face every day,” said Dr. S.S. Nandal, CEO and director of M.G. Creations. “When you start enjoying your busy work life — no matter how long you worked daily, how many complicated problems you faced and how many setbacks you have survived, you still love to work even harder — at that point, you realize that you are meant only to be an entrepreneur.”
You’re an Optimist Who Inspires, Motivates and Leads
When the coronavirus struck, many businesses folded. Many others saw it as an opportunity and thrived. Those in the latter group were led by entrepreneurs who always look for the silver lining, see the glass as half-full and have the personality to convince their teams to do the same.
“One who was meant to be an entrepreneur is a born leader,” said Yollanda Lee of the fashion brand Ombreprom. “They can envision a promising future even in seemingly insignificant details. They value every opportunity and time. They have a creative mind and are enthusiastic about all they undertake. Entrepreneurs are always intelligent workers who seek to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Failure is not a threat to them. Instead, it serves as motivation. They enjoy conversing with and exploring the minds of others. Entrepreneurs embrace change and transform it into something great.”
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