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Why These 5 Characteristics of Self-Reliance Will Guarantee Your Success There are five characteristics that are inherent in self-reliance: taking initiative and innovating, adaptability and agility, trusting your instincts, leadership, and having a growth mindset.

By Maha Abouelenein

Key Takeaways

  • Being a successful entrepreneur isn't just about being smart or working hard.
  • You must embrace self-reliance and its inherent characteristics to create the business and life that you want.
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Decades ago, my dad told me that relying on myself was vital for my success and personal growth. His advice is more relevant now than ever. In today's business landscape, where technology — such as OpenAI's Sora — is advancing quickly and workers across industries are being laid off, self-reliance is crucial for long-term entrepreneurial success.

Throughout my career, I've practiced self-reliance (whether I knew it at each moment or not). I've found that entrepreneurs who do not have a self-reliant mindset are more likely to fail because they struggle to make tough decisions, solve problems, or take necessary risks for success. Self-reliance empowers you to adapt swiftly to shifting market dynamics and reduces your dependence on external factors. You are driven to innovate, relying on your ingenuity and resourcefulness to develop solutions.

When I say self-reliance, I don't mean going at it alone; it's about knowing when to seek help and where to find it. Self-reliance involves looking inward for answers and reaching outward for support and ideas. As a self-reliant entrepreneur, you think big and bold without waiting for others to solve problems for you.

There are five inherent characteristics of self-reliance that entrepreneurs should embrace for success:

1. Take initiative and don't be afraid to innovate

Entrepreneurs benefit from self-reliance by taking initiative and innovating. This mindset of self-reliance allows them to turn ideas into reality, identify opportunities, and create solutions independently. In challenging situations, a self-reliant entrepreneur explores alternative plans to keep the business moving.

For instance, when faced with financial challenges in my company, I cut non-essential expenses. Then I innovated by expanding our offerings to a wider clientele through online workshops. This initiative, born out of self-reliance, not only added value but also generated a new and consistent revenue stream without increasing prices or overhead. Entrepreneurs' ability to innovate and take initiative is fundamental to self-reliance.

Moreover, taking the initiative as an entrepreneur is crucial for staying ahead of the competition. Entrepreneurs can carve out their niche and distinguish themselves from competitors by actively seeking opportunities and proactively addressing challenges.

Whether launching a new product, entering a new market, or exploring new technologies, entrepreneurs can find growth and success when they take the initiative.

2. Be adaptable

Entrepreneurs who embrace self-reliance possess the critical qualities of adaptability and agility. Challenges are inevitable in entrepreneurship, and they require quick adaptation and adjustment. Take, for example, the transition to remote work during the pandemic. As entrepreneurs, we had to quickly figure out how to operate our businesses and network from home. Entrepreneurs who embraced adaptability and adopted new collaboration tools and strategies were successful. They sustained their business operations and discovered newfound efficiencies and flexibility that continue to benefit them.

Adaptability is crucial as entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of remote work and "return to office" policies. We must carefully assess the impact of returning to the office on employee morale, work-life balance, and overall productivity. Striking the right balance between remote and in-person work while addressing individual preferences and concerns is paramount for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Related: Success Is the Biggest Benefit of Being Adaptable

3. Trust your instincts and take accountability

Throughout my career, I have found that a self-reliance mindset allows you to trust your judgment, instincts, and vision. Owning a business involves constant decision-making that impacts the company's trajectory – from personnel management to business relationships. As leaders, we often face high-stakes decisions that shape our success's strategic and financial direction. While data and analysis are essential, sometimes you must go with your gut feeling.

Trusting your instincts means having confidence in your judgment and intuition, even when uncertain. Whether deciding which market to enter or which partner to collaborate with, you must rely on your instincts to guide you. While not every decision will be perfect, trusting your instincts can lead to innovative ideas, bold moves, and success. It enables you to make decisions that align with your company's needs, no matter the situation.

I want to point out that a vital aspect of trusting your instincts is taking accountability for your decisions. Entrepreneurs who embody self-reliance understand that they alone are responsible for the success or failure of their ventures. By holding themselves accountable, they demonstrate commitment to their goals and responsibilities and avoid reliance on external factors or excuses. This mindset fosters personal growth, drives initiative, and enables entrepreneurs to persevere in the face of challenges, ultimately enhancing the resilience and sustainability of their efforts.

4. Have confidence in your abilities and leadership

The entrepreneurial journey is often likened to a roller coaster, marked by ups and downs, requiring leadership, grit, and resilience. Entrepreneurs wear many hats and handle various responsibilities. The initial challenges of being the boss, answering questions, and providing solutions can be daunting, but working across the business fosters self-reliance, instilling confidence in one's abilities. I've learned that this confidence is crucial for earning trust from clients, stakeholders, and your team. Self-reliance is vital in making internal decisions, offering feedback, and cultivating a proactive, problem-solving culture. Moreover, the confidence derived from self-reliance aids in hiring the right people and building a winning formula based on training and trust.

Related: 10 Ways to Build Your Entrepreneurial Confidence

5. Seek opportunities to learn and improve

In today's world, continuous learning is essential for success. Successful entrepreneurs adopt a growth mindset, actively seeking opportunities to learn and improve. They embrace feedback and constantly search for new skills to master. For example, you may attend workshops, courses, or networking events relevant to your industry. You might also engage in mentorship or coaching programs to gain insights from seasoned professionals and learn from their experiences. I recently took a proactive approach to expand my knowledge of finance and attended a specialized course at the London Business School.

Entrepreneurs must be curious, open to learning, and willing to acquire new knowledge to stay prepared. You must view a growth mindset as taking ownership of your education and remaining open-minded about what you don't know.

Maha Abouelenein

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Digital & Savvy

Maha Abouelenein is the CEO and Founder of Digital and Savvy, a global communication consulting firm with offices in the US and Dubai, and a member of the Global Board of Directors for The Associated Press. She hosts Savvy Talk Podcast and her book, "7 Rules of Self-Reliance," releases in 2024.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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