A good entrepreneur embodies a wide variety of attributes. Many of these general traits are obvious but others are more obscure and uniquely fitting to entrepreneurs. I believe people can be born with some degree of natural advantage over others, but learning and hard work can more than make up for it. An ideal entrepreneur is naturally talented, but more importantly, has integrity and a developed character to go along with it.
A thoughtful process is needed for long term planning, but at the same time, a clever wit is needed to resolve problems on the fly. When entrepreneurs go to investor conferences and display their business prospects for instance, careful planning can prepare you for the most difficult of questions posed by investors. Even so, not all questions can be predicted, which brings us to the art of “winging it”. When posed with an unexpected problem under pressure, effective use of “winging it” means keeping your cool and attempting come up with the best solution rather than curling up into a ball and assuming the fetal position. “Winging it” is needed to handle the many surprises you would expect over the course of founding a start up.
A creative and intelligent mind can also help to provide new products and innovative ways of solving people’s everyday needs. However, these traits should also be accompanied by a good sense of character. Confidence is great, but not if it is overshadowed by arrogance. Self righteous people may also find themselves out of touch with reality, in the belief that they can do no wrong. Arrogance may cause an entrepreneur to make over optimistic assumptions of success, leading to critical mistakes. Arrogant people may also find themselves incapable of receiving useful feedback from other people if they only see it in a negative light, rather than as a possible opportunity for improvement. In short, as an entrepreneur, you should always be critical of yourself, but never doubtful of your abilities.
The passion to learn is probably the most critical ingredient that makes up the successful entrepreneur. There are many examples of entrepreneurs who had a willingness to read books instead of watch movies and to search for solutions to problems rather than complaining about them. In many cases, the genuine interest and subsequent expertise in a certain discipline is what causes an entrepreneur to be motivated in starting a business in that field. One example of a entrepreneur who did this was Bill Gates, who began learning about computers when he was only 13. Learning can be induced by constantly surrounding yourself with people that are willing to feed off each other’s energy and grow with you. Friends that will challenge what you believe is possible are vital to the entrepreneur’s self improvement. You want to surround yourself with people that won’t drag you down. There’s this quote that sums it up pretty well.;”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So if you spend time with overly complacent people, then you will find yourself being constantly pulled down to their level.
Another point to keep in mind is that people who conduct business cannot do everything all by themselves. When starting a business, a large network of specialists, partners, advisers, investors and lawyers need to be enlisted. These key connections can serve to help the entrepreneur in the complex task of starting a business, and communication skills are necessary to begin building relationships with these people. Although an entrepreneur can simply hire someone to deal with PR and the more social aspects of starting a business, a basic aptitude is needed to get the ball rolling and to lead in the basic functions of the company. An entrepreneur may have many great ideas and insights, but with no ability to express them effectively, it will be hard to obtain the cooperation and understanding of others.
The course of founding a start up company can be a long and arduous task. An iron will is needed to forge ahead in spite of the most hopeless situations an entrepreneur may encounter. Take the story of Elon musk for example, Elon Musk was one of the Paypal Co-founders who made $200 million dollars off of its sale to Ebay in 2002. Elon didn’t stop there though, next, Elon started two other companies, Space X and Tesla Motors. Elon had trouble finding funds for his startups, no one believed that he could make the first commercially viable all electric car or an independent space exploration company. When Musk ran out of funds, he resorted to borrowing money from family and friends to keep his ventures afloat. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, funding was cut short yet again. Elon was forced to layoff a third of his staff. Originally, Elon only wanted to be the chairman and largest stakeholder of Tesla Motors, so he hired a CEO for the company, but to make up for the workforce reduction, Elon stepped up to the plate and assumed multiple roles within the company. Elon contributed to product designs and replaced the CEO to cut costs. The crisis caught him off guard, and Elon was already working around the clock as a CEO and CTO at Space X. At the same time, he was mid stream in working with yet another start up, called Solar City. Elon would later describe the event as “the closest moment he had ever came to having a nervous break down”. His companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, but Elon believed in his companies so much that he invested every last penny into the ventures. Elon’s unwavering determination paid off. Tesla Motors just posted its first profit last month, and Space-X has successfully docked with the international space station, winning a 400 million dollar contract with NASA in the process.