5 Essential Skills of an Entrepreneur
Are entrepreneurs born, raised, or forged in the fires of tough business battles?
Like the more general nature vs. nurture debate, the question of the origins of entrepreneurialism will likely rage for years. But even if researchers can't claim to know exactly how to make an entrepreneur, the authors of a new study say they can at least weigh in on what defines the final product.
A team from Target Training International recently carried out an analysis that compared serial entrepreneurs with a control group, probing for which skills were essential to entrepreneurship. After combing through the data, "we were able to predict with over 90% accuracy people who would become serial entrepreneurs," Bill J. Bonnstetter recently claimed on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network.
So what are the fundamental traits of an entrepreneur? Target came up with five:
Persuasion. "The quality serial entrepreneurs displayed above others was persuasion, or the ability to convince others to change the way they think, believe or behave," writes Bonnstetter.
Leadership. Bonnstetter explains: "In this study, good leaders were defined as having a compelling vision for the future, i.e., surveyors who highly ranked prompts such as: 'In the past, people have taken risks to support my vision, mission or goals,' or 'I have been criticized for being too competitive.'"
Personal Accountability. "People who are personally accountable look at obstacles as a part of the process and, rather than give up, they are energized by them."
Goal Orientation. The researchers defined this as "energetically focusing efforts on meeting a goal, mission, or objective."
Interpersonal Skills. These skills are "the glue that holds the other four skills together," Bonnstetter explains. "They include effectively communicating, building rapport, and relating well to all people, from all backgrounds and communication styles."
Check out Bonnstetter's complete post for much more detail on these qualities and the study methodology.
In attempting to lay out the skills needed to be an entrepreneur, Bonnstetter and his team join a long line of commentators who have proposed various qualities as "key" or "essential" for entrepreneurial success. Contenders include an ability to evolve, willingness to proceed despite a lack of resources, good old-fashioned discipline, and even intellectual humility (aka a willingness to look dumb).
Do you think there are one or more truly essential qualities of entrepreneurs and, if so, what are they?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.