Entrepreneurs have some qualities in abundance, and little need for others.
Is every business person meant to be an entrepreneur?
No way, says Bill Bonnstetter, chairman of research firm Target Training International (TTI). And identifying true serial entrepreneurs is to observe the presence of certain key traits--and the notable absence of others. He recently wrote:
To rehash our methods, we assessed subjects identified as serial entrepreneurs on what personal skills they possessed. Then they were compared to a control group of 17,000. As before, this group was assessed on their mastery of 23 practical, job-related skills. We measured whether skills were well developed, developed, moderately developed, or needed developing.
"If you try and fail and never try again, you are not entrepreneurial in my mind," he tells Inc. "Serial entrepreneurs have a passion and can’t stop--it’s like a disease with them."
So how can you tell a true entrepreneur from the wanna-bes? Here are the key traits that will go a long way to reveal the truth, according to TTI’s research.
Entrepreneurs generally have:
Leadership and persuasiveness. Leadership, Bonnstetter explains, starts with a compelling vision. Entrepreneurs are way ahead of the pack with original ideas and new ways of thinking, which means they must convince others that their ideas can become a viable business. "Persuasion is critical not only to acquire funds, but to successfully sell a product before a market is developed for it," Bonnstetter says.
Personal accountability. People who have personal accountability, Bonnstetter says, will do whatever it takes to be successful--a quality no entrepreneur can survive without. "If they need to read a book, go to a seminar, develop a skill, they’re going to do it on their own without being forced or led," he says.
But they generally lack:
Empathy. "Empathy is really caring about people: you can’t fire anybody, you can’t make tough decisions," Bonnstetter says. "We do it for other reasons. I may build products to help the world, but at the end of the day I’m hoping to make a profit."
Time management. For an entrepreneur, everything is first priority. They shift gears often and quickly, with a great sense of urgency. "They can’t even deal with standing in line," Bonnstetter says. And because entrepreneurs are generally juggling multiple balls at once, they aren’t interested in careful scheduling. Instead, he says, they have mastered the art of "just in time."
Planning and analytical problem solving. Entrepreneurs are futuristic, so they don’t care so much about the past. Most see analytical thinking as a deterrent to creativity and innovation, and find it stifling. "While entrepreneurs tend to have a lot of skills, analytical problem solving is sort of at the bottom," Bonnstetter says.
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168