Yes, it’s true. Entrepreneurs are not sane.
No sane human being would subject themselves to such a torturous ordeal of extreme highs (and lows) without much immediate rewards to show for it. And that’s why I am absolutely convinced that entrepreneurs are born, and not bred. It is the innate ability of an entrepreneur to absorb risks that set us apart.
Some people might think that coming up with good ideas should be the most important trait that defines an entrepreneur, but I beg to differ. Anyone can come up with a great idea, but it’s the ability to inspire others with this idea, to get them to buy into your vision, that is key. And not everyone can turn that inspiration into a business, let alone a sustainable one.
I’ve outlined three other traits (besides having a good idea, because you still need one) that I think are absolutely vital to starting your own business, and I believe that being a successful entrepreneur happens at the intersection of these traits.
It goes without saying that an entrepreneur needs to be able to stomach risk. There’s a lot of things that go wrong when starting your own business (and not much that goes right). So the ability to weather this storm, both physically and mentally, is a huge necessity for the individual. Some people have it, most people don’t and that’s okay. But don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can do it if you can’t. It will only hurt you in the long run.
This one is key, but is often overlooked. The reason being that out of the four traits I’ve described, this is probably the one you have the most control over. Sometimes an idea comes to you as an epiphany, you’re usually born with a specific limit of risk tolerance, and luck is something you can’t control and just happens. But persistence (or determination) is something that you have 100% control over. There will be many ups and downs with starting a business, but it’s an entrepreneur’s ability to power through these times, focus on the end goal and keep the faith that is of the utmost importance to the eventual success of your business.
Yes, luck does play a role in the success of an entrepreneur…unfortunately. But my view is this; luck is out there, buzzing around our paths, just waiting for us to be in a position to receive it. And that’s where persistence comes in. When you are persistent in what you’re doing, inevitably, you will put yourself in a position to receive some sort of luck that will help your business.
Let me give you an example. As an entrepreneur, the best places to meet future clients/partners/investors are at social networking events (not the online one, but the face-to-face kind). Most of the events are in London, but since we’re based in Manchester its sometimes a real pain to go down just for these events. A lot of times, I think to myself “not another one…I’ve already gone down there twice this week. Maybe I’ll just skip this one. What’s the harm? Plus, I didn’t have any luck at the other past events I’ve gone to and this one doesn’t seem all that interesting anyways”. However, after thinking this I’ll usually kick myself into gear and end up going, but I always wonder if it will actually be worth it.
But the ones I don’t usually want to go to and I least expect anything to happen from always turn out to be the best ones!
A lot of the time, I would meet someone that I otherwise would never have gotten a chance to talk to. I usually end the event thinking “wow, I’m really glad I went. That was awesome!”. So overcoming adversity, being persistent and staying the course ultimately yields rewards at the end, even though it might not be apparent from the outset.
Of course, there are other external factors to take into consideration when running a business (ie. who you work with, the environment you’re in, your support network, etc.). But from my own experience so far, I think the four traits that I’ve outlined are the most important to get your business from that initial conceptual idea to a sustainable, and eventually successful, business.