Wondering how to be a successful entrepreneur? Countless books have been written on the subject, but it’s never a bad time for fresh perspective. If you can keep the following five successful entrepreneur traits at the top of your mind during your business journey, you’ll find yourself head and shoulders above the pack.
1. A strong ethical foundation
It sounds cheesy, but this is the backbone of any successful entrepreneur. Without a strong ethical mooring, you risk succumbing to base urges to cheat, cut corners and engage in unscrupulous behavior. You may be able to use such behavior to get ahead in the short term, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll stay in business for long without developing a rock-solid reputation for integrity. After all, your word is your bond. Don’t cheapen it with underhanded tactics and questionable business practices. And definitely don’t blame others for your own failings or fall for common misconceptions.
2. A relentless work ethic
It should come as no surprise that business owners work harder than just about anyone else. With limited exceptions, entrepreneurs simply can’t realize their dreams on a traditional 40 hour per week schedule. (And who works just 40 hours per week anymore, anyway?) To truly be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have a relentless work ethic that thinks nothing of 80-hour weeks, all-nighters and early mornings—at first, at least. As you grow your business, you may find it easier to hire (and pay) trustworthy employees to handle key responsibilities. But as the ultimate decision-maker, you need to be available (and willing) to work whenever it’s necessary.
3. Limited fear of failure
Businesses fold. This is a basic fact of life that will never change. Unless you’re extremely lucky or supremely talented, you face the real prospect of business failure at some point in your entrepreneurial career. When this happens, it’s your duty to pick up the pieces and try again.
And even if your business doesn’t go under, you’re certain to experience numerous small failures and setbacks that test your faith. If you’re scared to make even the smallest mistake, or inclined not to accept blame when things don’t go right, you simply won’t be a successful business owner. It’s critical to look at each failure as a learning opportunity—a golden chance to improve and grow.
4. Willingness to admit when you’re wrong
No one really likes to admit they’re wrong. In a culture that values outward projections of strength, competence and confidence, admitting failure is akin to admitting inadequacy. But everyone makes mistakes—and admitting as much is the right thing to do. When you acknowledge that you’ve done something wrong (or could have done something better), you demonstrate that you’re capable of learning from the past and improving in the future. And that should inspire confidence in your employees, suppliers and clients alike.
5. Curiosity and creativity
As successful entrepreneur traits, curiosity and creativity are sort of a two-for-one deal. Even if you’ve got unshakeable confidence and an ironclad business plan, you need to constantly be on the lookout for threats and opportunities. Just as importantly, you need to know how to recognize problems in need of solving. That’s how new products and services get developed—and how the most successful entrepreneurs become even more prosperous.
How many of these characteristics do you possess? If you’re not sure, don’t feel bad. Even the most prosperous entrepreneurs aren’t born with all the keys to business success. With discipline, hard work and perseverance, you can overcome just about any obstacle and set yourself up for the success you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s to the next phase of your journey!
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