Today, we live in a world where 305 million startup companies are launched annually. With over 472 million entrepreneurs around the world, we have come to a stage where becoming your own boss is the most attractive “job” there is. With considerably more courses offered by renowned universities and mentorship programs coming into existence, one would assume the 90% failure rate of startups to be absurd. After all, how hard can it really be? Well, hopefully after reading this article, the reader will have a better understanding of the small and yet important things that make or break a Startup.
The Big Three
These are three most important attributes of a successful entrepreneur agreed upon by most industry experts.
1. I Believe in Me
Self-belief is probably one of the most important traits of an entrepreneur that corresponds to his or her success. A study by Hans Eysenck showed that people who believed in their horoscopes showed more behavioural patterns unique to said astrological sign. Belief is one of the strongest internal forces that can drive a person to perform in superhuman ways. Elon Musk once was at a standstill where only Tesla or SpaceX could survive. His belief in his vision for both is what allowed him to reach where he is.
What breaks it: Belief is good. It is synonymous with confidence which is absolutely essential for successful Startup. Overconfidence, however, is what destroys a venture. An entrepreneur must have the ability to failure as part of playing field, avoid investing in sunk costs and most of all, and use his reason and rational mind to drive him, not flair and the need to appear confident.
2. Learn, Learn Learn
A trait that most successful entrepreneurs share is curiosity and a never satisfied hunger to learn more. A Startup by nature begins small and requires the entrepreneur to be well versed in every aspect of his or her business. It is absolutely essential for the entrepreneur to be well versed with primary and secondary functions of the business that requires learning.
Innovation is the fuel of a start up, it is what sets it apart and launches it towards success. Creativity drives innovation and uses knowledge as its fuel to do so. Most successful entrepreneurs read a book every month. Only when we learn more can we make more.
3. Salesman after All
Mark Cuban in the show Shark Tank rightly says that unless you can persuade people how and why your product solves a problem, you are in for some hard times. An entrepreneur needs to be able to communicate his vision and passion to EVERYONE. It is an essential characteristic of an entrepreneur, and the importance of it cannot be stressed enough. Not only must they motivate and communicate their employees, they must persuade clients, vendors, financiers and even board members for a continual survival. Confidence, passion and knowledge build a strong salesman and a successful startup.
The Not So Little Things
- A clear vision: For startups to succeed, the entire organisation needs to be aware and work towards a common vision
- Setting time tables: Elon Musk is famous for setting unreal deadlines. People need to be held accountable for achieving their goals for it is time that is far more precious than money for a startup
- What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger: Such an attitude is important. Failure and setbacks should be viewed as learning opportunities to be capitalised from
- Money and risk management: Taking risks is an essential in the Startup industry, for greater the risk, higher the reward. Yet, risks should be well calculated, and money management kept in the highest regard. Poor money management and unnecessary risks often lead to failure of startups
- Networking: It is probably the most underrated attribute. However, it is of high importance. Networking is how you learn, raise capital, attract mentors and grow. Requires social skills which complement the salesmen in you
- Passion and determination: Both stem from and help build self-esteem and belief. These are what drive you and ergo your business
- Adapt and conquer: With technology continuously changing the landscape Startups operate in, adaptability is essential and can only be achieved through constant learning
- Planning and deciding: Planning is the blueprint of your dream. However, plans without actions are just that, plans. Decisiveness and taking action are what separates the successful from the failed Startups
- Self-starter and problem solver: People that wait around to be spoon fed can never make it. A prominent characteristic of a successful entrepreneur is his or her ability to motivate themselves, learn themselves and always ‘start’ solving problems they face.
The Bottom Line
All traits and characteristics mentioned here seem fairly obvious due to their apparent logic and reason. However, they are far more difficult to employ and maintain over the long run. Much like life, a Startup is a marathon, not a sprint, and only those with an iron core and superhuman stamina can survive. The most important thing that makes or breaks a Startup is never giving up. Those that fail only did so because they gave up, and those that succeed only did so because they never gave up. Believing in oneself is the only thing that truly sets the winners apart from the losers, and you get to choose which one you ought to be.