Entrepreneurs help bolster economic development, create jobs, and invent products or services that can make the world a better place. Being a successful entrepreneur requires outside-the-box thinking and larger-than-life ideas. Anyone can come up with a new idea, but building a successful business around it is the entrepreneurial challenge. The entrepreneurial mindset is unique in that one must be creative, communicative, and highly motivated to succeed, yet open to risk and failure.
It’s not a big idea alone that paves the path to ultimate entrepreneurial success. Oftentimes the success or failure of a business comes down to the characteristics of the entrepreneur themselves. It takes a unique aggregate of characteristics to meld one big idea into a fully-functional thriving business. Is there a certain amalgam of skills and traits which allows some entrepreneurs to become wildly successful?
Suffice it to say that there is no magical formula to succeed in business (if so, Harvard Business School would have patented it). However, there are certain characteristics which all aspiring entrepreneurs should cultivate to dramatically boost their own odds for success. An entrepreneurial mindset, if you will, may mark the difference between a lucrative business and one which shutters the doors before the first year is over.
So what ARE these all-important characteristics aspiring or new entrepreneurs should cultivate? What attributes tend to tip the scales in favor of heading up a booming business? Read on, as we share our experts’ opinions on the matter.
1. A Positive Mental Attitude
Why is a Positive Attitude Important for Entrepreneurs?
A positive attitude and outlook is a must for successful entrepreneurs. The mindset of the head of the company sets the tone for the rest of the company and influences corporate culture.
Negative thoughts undermine forward motion and the progress of the company, not to mention the management’s ability to lead staff and motivate employees. Part of what gives entrepreneurs the fortitude to weather the business downturns is positivity.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.
Cultivating a positive attitude is not about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring things that could go wrong, but about learning how to mentally reframe your response. There is no point in wallowing in mistakes.
One way to change your outlook is to look a negative pain point and ask “How can I actively correct this?” By exploring your reaction and response to a perceived problem, you’ll soon learn to cultivate a positive approach to change. Positive people look to challenges as a way to improve and learn, so you should try to focus on this skill.
Why is positivity important for the overall work environment? When you’re the boss, a positive attitude influences others in a similarly positive way. Research indicates that happy employees are better overall workers. Psychological research has made a correlation between higher productivity and positive work environments. Moreover, positive work environments have been linked to higher business profits, fewer sick days, and higher staff retention rates.
How Can You Cultivate a Positive Attitude for Business?
Part of relinquishing negativity is realizing that your own negative thoughts as a company leader waste energy, time and money.
Being positive is something which, like all life skills, can be learned. Becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted. The long hours and erratic demands of heading up your own company can negatively impact both your personal life and mental outlook.
One of the easiest ways to cultivate a positive attitude is to focus on the things you can control. You can control your diet, amount of sleep and ability to exercise. Each of these factors will help you stay focused, healthy and positive.
Where to find the time to make time for yourself when you’re working around the clock? Research has shown that even one ten-minute walk each day can boost your mood and reduce rates of negative thoughts.
2. A Creative Mindset
Why is a Creative Mindset Important for Entrepreneurs?
Never has the adage “Creativity is the mother of invention” been truer than in the world of entrepreneurship. Think of Steve Jobs and the iPhone. Edison and the light bulb. The Wright Brothers and the airplane. Each of these ground-breaking inventions would not have come to fruition were it not for healthy doses of creative gumption.
Even if you’re not in a “creative” industry, creativity is needed for entrepreneurial success. The mind of an entrepreneur is always looking for novel ideas and innovations. The basic life cycle of any entrepreneurial product stems from the conception of an idea followed by turning that idea into a viable product or service.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs
One of the benefits of being the boss is that you get to express creativity each and every day. You get to try out creative tactics to better your business and make changes. Even if you’re not in a creative field, per se, working out ways to optimize your business operations is a creative act.
How Can You Cultivate a Creative Mindset for Business?
Most entrepreneurs are inherently creative thinkers; otherwise, they would not be inspired to take the innovative leap to create their own business. That said, we can all learn to be more creative and to tap into our inherent talents.
3. Persuasive Communication Ability
Why is Persuasiveness Important for Entrepreneurs?
The best entrepreneurs are persuasive individuals. The power of persuasion can help you negotiate, close a sale, or score a lower price on your inventory. Not to mention, persuasive people tend to be inspiring leaders, ergo they tend to be stellar bosses.
“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”– Benjamin Franklin
How Can You Cultivate Persuasiveness for Business?
While some people are more naturally persuasive than others, persuasive communication skills can be learned and practiced. Learning to communicate and present your ideas will make you a better entrepreneur no matter what your industry is.
Mastering persuasive tactics can mean the difference between financial success or ruin. Here’s how to make the art of persuasion work for you in business.
Psychological research has shown the “reciprocity rule” can be very effective in business. The basics of the rule in plain language is that when a person does you a favor, you must provide a favor in return. Try to make your persuasive case by “giving” something to the person you’re trying to persuade. You may just close the deal or make the sale.
Look to Others
Social proof is the concept that people look to others for how to behave in social settings. Social proof can be used as a persuasive tool in business. If you’re trying to sell one of your products, showing how the product has been successful for others can help make that sale.
Appealing to one’s reputation is a powerful persuasive tool. You can use this mode of persuasion by indicating that they should act in a way which is consistent with a label. For example, say, “Your restaurant is a fine French restaurant and good French restaurants stock our wine.” This is a common tactic used in marketing campaigns to make sales.
4. Intrinsic Motivation and Drive
Why is Intrinsic Motivation Important for Entrepreneurs?
One of the top entrepreneurial characteristics is intrinsic motivation, meaning you are self-motivated and self aware as opposed to looking to others to push you to do things or hold you accountable. Broadly speaking, those who own their own businesses are incredibly motivated to succeed. They’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into their company, and may have literally mortgaged their future to first open their businesses’ doors. Having a lot at stake personally fuels the motivational drive.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” – Socrates
How Can You Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation for Business?
Successful entrepreneurs know that staying motivated is the key to running a successful company. What steps can you take to fire up and cultivate this motivation?
One way to stay motivated in the long-term is to keep the focus on the endgame, the big picture. Where is your company headed? What plans do you have in the future to grow and expand? How will your company fit into its respective industry in the future? Experts say that formulating long-range goals and plans keeps the motivational fires burning.
Speaking of goal setting, experts also advise that goal setting is another way to keep your motivational wheels turning. The key to using goals for motivation is to set high-quality goals.
What does that mean? Basically, high-quality goals are clear, achievable, and manageable. For example, “I will attend two continuing education courses this month.” Or “I will hire an editor for my company website by Friday.” High-quality goals provide a sense of motivation when you accomplish your intended objective.
When you’re the boss, you’re not only responsible for your own intrinsic motivation, but you’re also responsible for cultivating that for your employees.
5. Tenacity and an Ability to Learn from Failure
Why Is Learning From Mistakes Important for Entrepreneurs?
When you’re starting a business, you hope that your business will be a wild success. It’s true that success is wonderful, but failure is where growth and change happen. The key to learning from failure is to actually learn and embrace your mistakes so they make your better, not break you.
“Every failure is a step to success.” – Malcolm Forbes
Don’t be afraid to fail, because when you do, you’ll be in good company. The richest business owners, most decorated sports stars, and well-known artists have all failed at one time or another in their path to riches and fame. Everyone is human, therefore, imperfect. Do not expect yourself to be perfect in the pursuit of your business dream. It is, by definition, impossible.
How Can You Cultivate Tenacity and Embrace Growth from Failure in Business?
Failure is inevitable, but your reaction to your failure is what you make of it. Here’s how to cultivate that and use your failure to come out even more successful in long-term.
Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Setback
Don’t attach judgment or blame when you fail. Business failure should not make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. Do your best to remove the emotion from mistakes you make as an entrepreneur so you can logically explore how to better yourself and your company. Turn off your negative self-talk and learn to say “Now I know better for next time!” instead.
Use Tough Times to Learn From Adversity
Let times of adversity lead you to strength. Failure can be your best chance to learn how to do something right. As a start-up new business owner and entrepreneur, you’re going to face many firsts—first client, first business lease, first employee hire. Some of these firsts are bound to not work out; that’s okay and expected. Use these setbacks to develop ideas and tactics for how you want to run your business in the future.
Share Your Experiences With Others
Failing at something is human, which means that others have forged that path before you. Share your experiences with others you trust, whether it’s your mentor, colleagues, or staff—to gain some outside perspective. Sharing that experience can help you collaborate to reach an even better solution for how to handle a tricky problem in the future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Course and Reset
Even the best-laid plans will sometimes go awry. That’s the nature of life, as well as business. There will come a time when you may realize that something simply is not working. You may have to adjust your planned course, reset, and start over.
Never Give Up!
One of the most important keys to success in entrepreneurship is to never give up. Perseverance will get you through the tough times. Be tenacious about working toward your dreams. With determination and grit, you’ll achieve them; it just may not be overnight!
Starting up your own business and running your own company may the most exciting, rewarding, positive thing you’ve ever done. It may also be fraught with challenges, self-doubt, and worries. That’s normal. Learning how to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset and cultivate key characteristics linked to success will help you build a thriving business.