Greatness is subjective to some degree, but “great” entrepreneurs can be defined by their actions, successes and the perceptions of the people around them. Great entrepreneurs earn the respect and admiration of their partners and employees, and are far more likely to see a business through to success -- whether that means achieving a sustainable revenue model or getting sold for billions of dollars.
Achieving greatness as an entrepreneur takes time and effort, and there’s no shortcut to success that can get you there. However, there are certain traits that “great” entrepreneurs tend to share, and adopting those traits can improve your abilities as a business owner and as a leader.
Take a look at these five traits in particular, and see how you stack up:
You’ll have ample opportunities and excuses to quit being an entrepreneur, or to give up on an element of your business. Owning a business means you’ll be exposed to countless challenges and unexpected obstacles, and every one of them has the potential to ruin your business -- if you let it.
Tenacious entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to face those challenges, rather than back down. There are times when quitting is the best strategy, but for the most part, it shouldn’t be an option until you’ve exhausted every other possible route. Overcoming challenges makes you stronger, and remaining tenacious even in the face of overwhelming odds will put you in a much better position to eventually succeed.
If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, you aren’t going to want to follow through. Too many workers see their jobs as a chore, coming in from nine to five and doing the minimum amount of work necessary to get by. These workers aren’t effective because they aren’t passionate about what they do.
Even if you genuinely love the idea of owning your own business, if you aren’t passionate about the work, you’re never going to succeed. Find a way to make your business truly your own. Being an entrepreneur means you have full control over your work environment, so create an environment where you can express and exercise your passion.
Usually, when people speak of important traits for an entrepreneur, they mention being ambitious. However, there’s a problem with ambition: it’s vague. If you want to be rich one day, that can qualify as being ambitious, but there’s no tangible, measurable goal, and there’s certainly no action plan to get you there.
Related: 10 Behaviors of Genuine People
Instead of being ambitious, it’s important to be goal-oriented. That means you understand the importance of creating, pursuing and ultimately meeting goals, and you have the personality and discipline necessary to ensure your business maintains good goal habits. Through short-term and long-term goals, your business will be able to achieve more in the long run, and you’ll have a quicker read on the situation when things inevitably go wrong.
Startups are a tumultuous endeavor. The timelines that you predicted are highly unlikely to remain consistent. Your predictions on user behavior will likely be at least partially off. And of course, there will be dozens (if not hundreds) of unexpected problems that emerge, ranging from almost negligible to game-changing.
If you’re manning the helm of your company as its sole entrepreneur, it’s on you to help weather the storm. Remain patient, and understand that your short-term setbacks are not the end of the world. Don’t rush your decisions. Instead, take your time to find the best solution whenever you have the luxury of time to do so.
Entrepreneurs are rarely successful alone. Their perceived greatness is due, at least in some ways, to the people that work alongside them. To be an effective leader, you’ll need to be able to communicate well with your employees, and you’ll need to be friendly enough that people see you as a part of the team, not as some distant, domineering dictator.
It’s also important to be personable from a branding and customer acquisition perspective. Entrepreneurs with a charming personality and communication skills will fare better than their competitors when it comes to sealing new deals and attracting new customers. If your face comes to represent your brand, a humble, down-to-earth personality will win you far more trust and a better reputation than one that’s overly corporate or aloof.
While some of these traits may seem like inherent characteristics, all of them can be learned. By improving yourself as an individual, you’ll be able to perform better as the figurehead and visionary of your enterprise. Not only will you be better equipped to handle the natural challenges and obstacles associated with entrepreneurship, you’ll also be able to motivate and encourage your workers to better perform in their own roles, and your entire organization will flourish.