Do you want to know if you are a born entrepreneur, right? Me either 🙂
Before you start a business you might be thinking if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I will share my thoughts and observation how successful entrepreneurs, in my opinion, think and act differently.
We all know about the mega millionaires and billionaires who started a small business in their garage or basement or college dorm room. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg immediately come to mind. Beyond those famous examples though, are hundreds of thousands of exceptional, hard working successful entrepreneurs.
How do entrepreneurs think differently? How do their brains differ from those who remain working as employees until they retire? “Entrepreneurial cognition,” (the way entrepreneurs make their decisions) is a significant recent discovery. Dove Press, an open-source online medical journal, reports that Neuroscientists have determined that successful entrepreneurs “scored significantly higher in novelty-seeking and self-directedness dimensions, as well as in exploratory excitability, impulsiveness, optimism, eagerness, and responsibility sub-dimensions”.
So let us look at the seven major differences between entrepreneurs and those who choose to work for someone else.
Successful Entrepreneurs share these basic characteristics: They have strong motivation; they are confident and comfortable with autonomy; they like to shake things up; they possess a positive attitude; they know how to calculate risks, they are lifelong learners and they pursue their passion with energy and enthusiasm.
For many people who are stuck in the 9 to 5 Sunday to Thursday rut, entrepreneurship sounds like a great idea. You might, for example, be imagining working online from home or at the beach. Maybe you see yourself owning a small company manufacturing the newest gadget that is ‘all the rage’.
The idea that you can set your own hours, and perhaps combine work with those recreational activities you enjoy, can be a powerful motivator. However, do not fool yourself into thinking it will be easy. Most often, you will spend long hours building your business; from the kernel of an idea to building connections, taking on contracts and working toward profit and success. Think seriously about your level of motivation and the time you can dedicate to your business before profit become reality.
Are you able to make well-reasoned decisions then see the action through to completion? To begin on the right foot, supplement your skills and hire/or contract out to people with the skills you lack. According to a study featured in Inc. magazine, sharp entrepreneurs will align themselves with people who can give them good information and advice but do not need their consensus to act. Trust yourself. Entrepreneurship means that you are the decision maker. Ensuring you maintain control of your endeavor while delegating those tasks that are not in your skills set, will ensure that you will ultimately succeed.
Shaking Things Up
Would you rather change the rules, or even break the rules, than follow them? Are you the employee who is most often heard saying in staff meetings, “Why don’t we try . . .?” Were you often in a bit of trouble as a teenage for challenging or not following the rules? That is good news! A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the London School of Economics recently found those kinds of characteristics are shared by successful entrepreneurs. The study cites a number of other contributing factors but states specifically, “Our data revealed that many successful entrepreneurs exhibited aggressive behavior and got in trouble as teenagers. This is the person who wasn’t afraid to break the rules”. Most importantly, successful entrepreneurs don’t try to fit into some company mold; but rather create the mold themselves – shaping their company to fit their dream.
Maintaining a Positive Attitude
Entrepreneur magazine reflects that entrepreneurs are an optimistic group, afflicted with what they dub the ‘optimism bias’. As well, the 2014 article ‘Entrepreneurs: Your Irrational Optimism Is Necessary’ goes on to state that “Negative emotions diminish the brain’s capacity to think broadly and find creative solutions.” No wonder then that successful entrepreneurs think differently about challenges. Most often, they see them as opportunities to grow and change for the better. Check your attitude at work and at home. Are you the one who is eager to brainstorm to find new ways to tackle issues? Are you the one who comes up with a radically new, and better, way of doing things?
Often entrepreneurs are lumped together as extreme risk takers and, as a result, those with a need for security cannot imagine themselves taking the step to entrepreneurship. Those that do so successfully, however, know the value of taking a calculated risk at the right time and for the right reasons. There is always an analysis you will do – sometimes on the fly – but an analysis nonetheless; one that has weighed the pros and cons; the benefit and costs of a risk. Are you able to take risks? Are you able to quickly look at all sides of an issue then take the leap required when necessary?
Lifelong learning shares two major traits – one, the ability to get back up after a failure – to actually learn from it and forge ahead – and two, the actual practice of pursuing learning throughout your entire life. Both of these attributes are extraordinarily important for new entrepreneurs. Research published in the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development reveals much about the first trait. Rather than giving up, successful entrepreneurs will reap new information and knowledge as a result of the failure. Many entrepreneurs have tried an idea, failed, and tried another and even another before finding success. The key is to move on with new knowledge and skill after each attempt. Beyond looking at the way you handle failure, lifelong learning is a must. Are you the kind of person who tends to just ‘rest on your laurels’ or are you diligently and consistently working toward being a better ‘you’? This continuous learning could be academic, personal, physical, mental and/or business related.
An interesting side note to this point is that many investors I know will not invest in an entrepreneur who has not experienced at least one business failure.
Pursuing your Passion
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that passion was a key ingredient in growing a successful business. Successful entrepreneurs live and breathe their passion. The dream they brought to reality by taking the leap and starting their business is continued every day as they maintain high motivation and a positive attitude, solve problems with confidence, trust themselves, take well-reasoned risks and learn from their mistakes.
In summary, practice good entrepreneurial self-awareness by seriously looking at yourself in terms of each characteristic. Do you have strength is some but not in others? Do you truly have a passion you want to pursue? Are you highly motivated to go out on your own? Do you know people in business who do demonstrate skills in the areas you are missing? Find a mentor, ask for input, interview them and ask to work with them to increase your needed seven so that you can follow your passion with confidence and a well-developed skill set that will increase the likelihood of success.