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The ABCs of Entrepreneurship

Whether you're just starting out or struggling through a rut, relearning your ABCs may be just the attitude adjustment you need to take your business to the next level.

I meet and work with other entrepreneurs regularly and have started to see a lot of common traits shared among them. So it got me thinking: If all these entrepreneurs share the same values and traits, then launching and growing your business can really be as easy as ABC.

A is for attitude, and having a good one makes you a magnet for top talent in good times and bad. So much of success in business comes down to a great concept and even better execution. Inevitably there are bumps in the road, so keeping a positive outlook can really inspire others to stay with you through the ups and downs of the journey. An entrepreneur never lets their dreams or vision die. Be bold, take a stance and stick to it, whether the position is popular or not. Oftentimes we see opportunities where others don't, so a little brashness may be required.

The best entrepreneurs I know are courteous, charming & candid, a great combination indeed. They're also determined to turn their ideas into reality.

Everyone talks about the importance of time-management skills, but managing your energy is critical as well. Most entrepreneurs I know are energetic to a fault, which is a great quality because it'll take every bit you have some days just to get through. Staying focused on the important things, not the small stuff, is critical so that you don't get derailed or distracted along the way. Being gregarious and generous will help you make friends before you need them, which can never hurt, and will certainly pay dividends down the road. Never underestimate the power of good deeds and small gestures; others will love you for them and remember them when you least expect it.

Having a great sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself as needed will get you through many a late night. A funny joke or happy comment can go a long way in the trenches. Innovation is the key to creativity and growth today, and it will inspire thinking big and broad so others want to join your cause. The ability to juggle many tasks simultaneously without dropping any balls along the way is a great quality and comes in handy often. Every entrepreneur has had a few kooky ideas that just might work, so give them a shot, you never know. Sometimes it's those crazy ones along the way that make all the difference.

The best entrepreneurs lead others to a place where they had no idea they even wanted to go. They mentor others along the way, sharing their experience and stories. Creating a new path can be daunting, so it's important to encourage promising ideas; that's where the magic happens and they can learn as much as they give. When entrepreneurship comes naturally as part of your DNA, you've chosen the right career. Entrepreneurs are born more than made I think, and the best ones can't imagine doing anything else. Authenticity always rules. Not everyone is cut out to start a company, so play to your strengths for the best results.

The ability to be optimistic yet realistic is an important trait. It helps you think of creative ways to solve problems that pop up along the way so that you keep trying to find possible answers and exploring ideas. Striking the right balance of being pleasantly persistent as needed is tough to master. Success is about the follow-up and follow-through, not just the great idea. Successful entrepreneurs always question the status quo, and they never get complacent. They also ask a lot of questions to uncover opportunities and issues that exist.

In today's world you have to be remarkable in some way so you stand out from the pack. Blending into the wallpaper will get you nowhere. Be known for doing something better than anyone else out there. Successful entrepreneurs are strategic yet opportunistic so they can take advantage of the right offers along the way. By having a roadmap, you're able to take detours, and sometimes you end up getting to a better place than you ever imagined. But you need a plan so that you can recognize which paths are worth pursuing as you go. There are no shortcuts to paying your dues, so entrepreneurs must be technically competent and have their homework done along the way.

Great entrepreneurs are unflappable with thick skin, and don't take it personally when things don't go their way. They know that's part of the experience and what makes it exciting. Entrepreneurs create value and are incredibly valuable to their most important customers. They wow them at every opportunity they get so they're remembered. The best entrepreneurs create x-traodinary x-periences every time (ok I cheated here). It's really the experience more than the actual product or service that's important, and it's what brings customers back for more of what you're selling. They're young at heart, and never lose their sense of curiosity and wonder. Their eyes still sparkle when they get excited by a great idea. And finally, entrepreneurs are zealous about life; after all, if you're not having fun, why bother?

So the next time you hit a wall or get blocked along the path, just remember your ABCs and get unstuck. Remind yourself why you chose this route. At least for me, I'm certain I'm in the right place--Anywhere But Corporate!

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses.

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