My child Tank alternately drives me crazy and fills me with awe at his persistence and energy. One day, in a moment of frustration, my wife and I purchased a book called "Raising a Spirited Toddler." After reading the first few pages, we were filled with relief when we realized other parents had dealt with kids like ours. Then I had another thought: Tank's annoying traits probably come from me and will serve him well in business someday. 

When people ask me about what characteristics entrepreneurs need most, the ones that come to mind aren't necessarily "positive." They happen to be characteristics that helped make my business a success and kept me going all of the way. To that end, here are four negative traits that you, too, can use to your advantage.

Persistence

When ShortStack was in its early stages, there were plenty of times when my co-founder and I thought we needed to change direction. Like the time I got a notice that my house was being foreclosed on. Or the time six of us were crammed into a tiny office. Yet we knew if we could bring in enough revenue, everything else would work out. 

Most people would have bailed out long ago, but I believed in our business so much. That was for good reason: If we'd had zero customers or not received any positive feedback, we would have had to quit. But with a few customers giving a ton of love, I stubbornly hung on because it was only a matter of time. That decision paid off. 

Arrogance

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your work and showing it off. Second-guessing yourself doesn't work. First, you have to be willing to take risks. And second, you have to be a good leader. Leaders need confidence that their product or service is a game-changer, otherwise no one else will buy in. 

On more than one occasion, we signed a client and built a feature they wanted in hours. "Your timing is great, we are just about to add that feature!" is something I told more than one prospect because I had confidence my team could pull it off. This also allowed us to compete with more established competition. Without that "I can do better" attitude, I would have walked away.

Vengefulness

The desire to exact revenge can be a great motivator. Think about it: Some of the greatest characters in culture were motivated by revenge, like Andy in The Shawshank Redemption or Edmund in The Count of Monte Cristo. I've always been motivated by the desire to prove (some) people wrong, too. My parents were disappointed when I dropped out of college and that drove me to show them I was better off without it. Today if we don't land a client, it just makes me work harder to prove they've made a mistake. 

Envy

Keeping up with the Jones is a bad idea, but again it can be a good motivator. Just don't use credit to get there--use your brain and work ethic. I was always envious of a family friend who inherited a lake house and didn't seem to appreciate it. Ever since I've been driven to earn that lake house, because it will mean more to me. Perhaps you envy a friend who doesn't have to work. If so, put that envy to work so that someday you don't have to. 

 

Published on: Sep 12, 2014
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