Most Entrepreneurs Have 4 of the 5 Critical Success Traits, and That's Not Quite Enough
Let’s look at what we know about the successful entrepreneurial enterprise.
Whether it’s in startup mode, or has reached a more mature and established point in the development cycle, successful businesses have five factors in common:
1. They’re innovative
Entrepreneurs find new ways to solve problems and new problems to solve. They’re solving problems before people know they have problems. They’re carving out a market position that’s known for something different than the competition.
2. They’re engaged
To be both innovative and relevant, entrepreneurs need a line to what’s going on in society and in the minds of their target market. To be perceived as relevant, they’re engaging in a public and personal way with the people they hope to serve.
3. They’re responsive
Being innovative and engaged isn’t enough, to stay viable in the fast-changing landscape that is today’s value system, a successful business has to be able to respond quickly to trends and shifts. They must have a plan, but they must also believe that the secret to a good plan is how quickly you can deviate from it and still meet high level objectives.
4. They’re consistent
People need to know what to expect of the brand they’re doing business with. Systems and processes create dependability and trust.
5. They’re replicable
Without replication there is no scalability, which limits growth.
If even one of those factors is missing in a business, especially a small entrepreneurial startup, it’s unlikely that the business will grow, or even remain viable. It stands to reason that the leadership of an entrepreneurial enterprise has to reflect those same character traits.
The ideal entrepreneur is innovative with a finger on the pulse of the company and the world conversation, fluid, flexible, and capable of easily responding to new data and ideas, organized and consistent, and able to teach or mentor someone to take his or her place in another location or department.
Which of these critical success traits do most entrepreneurs lack?
You’ve probably already guessed it's replication. If you are an entrepreneur, it was probably an educated guess. Before you start beating yourself up for not naturally being prone to replication, let me explain why that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn’t have to limit your success.
We know pretty much every trait has a continuum from one extreme to another, right? Yin to yang. Introvert to extrovert. Perfect pitch to tone deaf. In “Hey Entrepreneur – You Need More Heads, Not More Hats” I shared a graphic for how this continuum works and where most entrepreneurs fall on it. Let’s just focus on the difference between flexible and consistent, or responsive and replicable.
You see the opposites?
Most entrepreneurs have a natural tendency toward innovation and responsiveness. They’re hard-wired to challenge the status quo and encourage change. That’s great and valuable but limiting once value has been created and needs to be replicated, reproduced, delegated and scaled.
Because if you’re naturally hard-wired to one side of the continuum, it stands to reason the character traits on the other side of the continuum won’t come naturally.
Most entrepreneurs do not have a natural tendency to systematize, organize or reproduce a given outcome. Yet, for a business to have a stable platform for growth, those traits are critical.
That one trait – replication – is what drives systematization, reproduction, organization, delegation, stabilization, consistency and dependability.
So what’s a poor entrepreneur to do?
Embrace it, but work on it. Observe your tendencies where they serve you, and where they don’t serve you. Leverage tools and technologies to support tasks that are repetitive or highly structured. Do the work of systemization and documentation once, and learn to delegate. Focus on habit formation. That will support you when your natural tendency to turn on a dime to knock that curve ball out of the park kicks in.
Most of all, remember that what makes you an amazing innovator is just one side of the same coin that causes you a headache when it comes time to replicate what you’ve built.
You’re an entrepreneur. And you’re in good company.