7 Traits Shared by the World's Top Entrepreneurs
It requires some luck to become a successful entrepreneur. But it also takes more than pure luck to hit it big: There's a reason the top founders are as successful as they are. Even with fame and fortune, it takes much more to successfully start and maintain a business.
Those who have formed multiple companies or helped create the highest-impact and most profitable businesses have been successful because of the traits and habits they intentionally cultivated. The qualities they have might seem intrinsic, but they're by no means unlearnable. Successful entrepreneurs spend years refining and practicing their craft, meaning anybody has the potential to develop these abilities with the right focus and effort. Doing so not only helps you run a business, but it also improves your output in everyday life.
Here are seven traits the best founders have in common that can improve your communication, production and leadership -- and can be learned:
1. An unwillingness to give up.
Starting a business is one of the most challenging undertakings a person can accept. It requires an enormous variety of different energies and efforts, ranging from dealing with logistics to hiring to taking responsibility for others' financial well-being.
Consequently, it takes grit and determination to start a business and deal with these ups and downs.
The best founders refuse to give up. When a situation gets tough, instead of looking for ways out, they embrace the challenge. It's not any easier for them. They're simply more willing to persevere through the stress and sleepless nights to meet their goal.
2. A deep desire to always question.
There's a reason few people start a business. Beyond the difficulty, it requires looking at the outside world to identify an opportunity. To do that, one has to question the world around her. She has to ask why things don't exist and why reality functions the way it does. Then, she has to capitalize on the opportunities she's surfaced.
The best entrepreneurs do this not only when getting their companies off the ground, but also while growing each day. They have to question their success, internal metrics and norms. This requires challenging fundamental beliefs. It's easier to take things as a given -- we don't need to always exert mental energy or effort to question things. Instead, we can let our automatic processes make decisions for us.
The best entrepreneurs push back on those widely held beliefs. Although it takes significantly more mental attention, they work toward identifying the primary issues of the problems they tackle. Then, they can develop solutions much more creatively and pragmatically.
3. Long-term vision.
Starting a company that begins to succeed is one thing. Maintaining that success for years on end is entirely different. At a business's founding, one is looking for market opportunities and areas for growth. Once it's begun, though, it's tough to continue looking toward the future.
There are always fires to put out and problems to solve in the present. Dealing with those can be all-consuming. Letting that happen is a common mistake, and it means leaders aren't preparing for the changing world.
There's a reason Amazon has been around and growing for more than 20 years. Jeff Bezos has had a long-term vision for the business since its inception. This vision has led to short-term losses, but it's also sparked decisions that will enable the company to excel for years to come.
4. An ability to get others behind them.
No matter how smart or capable you are, if nobody joins you, you can only accomplish so much. Therefore, getting other people on board is a critical step. The best entrepreneurs are able to effectively communicate their mission and ideas to others.
Running a business means convincing other people to spend their lives -- and, ideally, some of their best years -- working toward your dream. That's a big undertaking. It requires immense skill to articulate a vision. More importantly, you have to be someone others want to work with. How you go after that vision means as much as the vision itself.
5. A deep passion for their work.
Being an entrepreneur requires well-above-average amounts of work and mental energy. Therefore, without intense passion and energy for the work at hand, consistent effort isn't sustainable over time.
The best founders love their craft and the problems they're solving. They don't start a company for the fame or money. They do it because they deeply care about their work.
6. A deep understanding of themselves.
In order to effectively manage others and handle the necessary work of an entrepreneur, one has to understand herself extremely well. Founders need to know what it will take to decompress so they can recharge in challenging times. The best know where they're weak so those vulnerabilities don't have a negative impact. They also play to their strengths so they can delegate work and utilize others' skills.
An insecure entrepreneur will run into problems managing others and sacrificing control. The best have spent significant amounts of time inside their own minds; in doing so, they're able to maximize their productivity, efficiency and energy.
7. They can always adapt.
In a rapidly changing world, companies that don't follow suit will fail. Those cultures of adaptation and flexibility tend to come from the top down. When CEOs are open to frontline employees' ideas and willing to change business models when the time comes, their companies last much longer.
The best entrepreneurs are constantly learning and adapting in order to maintain their ventures' success. They also do so to become better people and leaders, making sure they grow as their companies do.