So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Of course, there are the stereotypical responses, but how accurate are these? This question was recently asked in a Facebook Group for entrepreneurs and some of the responses are not as you might expect…
With over 500 separate responses and approximately 150 different words suggested, there’s no doubt that peoples’ experiences in entrepreneurship vary. But there were also some words that came up A LOT more frequently than others… and these shed some real insights into what it actually takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Here’s a word-cloud that illustrates what real entrepreneurs say it takes to be successful…
Top qualities successful entrepreneurs need…
So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? The top responses were;
- Determination, and
To be a successful entrepreneur you need PATIENCE
This might surprise some people who hear about the hard-working entrepreneurs who seemingly create an overnight success. However, the evidence is to the contrary. Here are some quotes from successful entrepreneurs who seemed to be an overnight success;
“I was an overnight success alright. But 30 years is a long, long night.”
Ray Kroc (McDonalds)
“Timing, perseverence, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
Biz Stone (Twitter)
“All overnight success takes about 10 years.”
Jeff Bezos (Amazon)
And here’s an article that explains more about why it takes ten or more years to achieve success.
It’s probably not what new entrepreneurs want to hear, but it’s also reassuring for those that might have been working on their startup for several years and haven’t yet reached the levels of success they aspire towards.
If that’s you, know that it takes almost everyone a long time (probably longer than anyone ever imagines), and that’s just part of the process.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need CONSISTENCY
Along a similar vein, you also need to be consistent. There’s no use in changing your business model and darting between new strategies all the time. To some extent, you need to pick a course of action and stay with it. Yes, you might be wrong, but you’ll never know unless you give it time to work.
Persistence, perseverance, dedication, and commitment were other words frequently mentioned in response to what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Although different words are chosen by different individuals, the theme is clear. Stick with it!
To be a successful entrepreneur you need COURAGE
Anyone paying attention will realize that to stick with something for a long time, and without knowing whether it will pay-off, takes a lot of courage. Successful entrepreneurs literally create something out of nothing. They are prepared to go against popular opinions and be the ambassador for a vague idea that might never work.
It also takes courage to do all the things entrepreneurs need to do. You might be good at balancing the books but dread doing a sales pitch. Or, you might be great with people but scared sh*tless of building a website. We’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses! One thing is for sure though – none of us are confident in all areas of business. So having the courage to tackle the other areas is vital.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need DETERMINATION
When starting a business, there is no momentum. It’s you that needs to get things going and push against the forces that fight against this business existing in the world. Successful entrepreneurs need to have something in them that refuses to give up – even when things get hard.
Discipline, passion, and tenacity, were also popular choices for what makes a successful entrepreneur.
Clearly, it’s not something we can do whenever we feel like it. Building a successful business requires the determination and discipline to keep moving forward every day.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need GRIT
Although this is similar to determination, “grit” also implies an inner resolve to do whatever it takes and perhaps a recognition that this includes doing unpleasant the things.
Other similar and popular words include; balls, strength, chutzpah, and guts. It’s being brave and asking for what you want (even if it’s unpopular, unconventional or downright embarrassing). It’s also thinking outside of the square to find a different solution when the conventional one isn’t an option.
What else does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Other qualities entrepreneurs believe to be important included;
- Hard work, time, and sacrifice
Yes, these were cited by many as being important. Although they’re not as interesting (in my mind) as these are the ones we tend to know about already.
Perhaps similar to courage, many entrepreneurs recognized that it takes a certain type of blind confidence or a leap-of-faith to stick with something no-one knows is going to work.
- Focus and time-management
Similar to discipline, entrepreneurs need to choose what to focus on and then block everything else out. There’s no reward for getting distracted by every shiny new thing. Staying focused is key.
In recognition of the hard work and sacrifice that entrepreneurship requires, it clearly needs a lot of energy too. Having the ability to manage yourself and your energy levels is definitely one of the key factors needed for success.
Anyone that knows about my new venture will know this is close to my heart! After all, what you talk about doing means nothing, what you plan on doing means nothing, it’s only what you actually do that counts! Taking action is the key to everything and it’s amazing what impact you can have by taking small, but consistent action each day.
Perhaps linked to passion, some entrepreneurs also believe love is a factor in building a successful business. This could refer to the empathy needed to really connect with our customers and solve a problem for them. Or perhaps it’s the idea of loving the business and deciding to raise and nurture it like you would a child.
So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Probably all of these things plus a little bit of luck!