What qualities does an entrepreneur need to have in order to succeed? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Over the course of a year, my professional life did a major 180. At the age of 23, I was already completing the cycle of hitting a wall at my seemingly stable, secure (but less than rewarding) bank job and taking the leap into a more freelance-based, entrepreneurial industry and company.
With my intentions and mindset firmly settled within this world, combined with the direct exposure I've had to seasoned entrepreneurs and small business owners, there are a few important lessons I've become aware of:
1) Communication Will Make or Break You
In most professional circumstances, your intelligence, insight for innovation or creative potential and execution comes second to your ability to effectively communicate. Ideas can rarely come to fruition without the continued, effective communication required to create that momentum and execution, after all.
This concept is two-fold, as it's not just the ability to write, present, or just engage with others in a compelling, clear way. It also comes down to the ability to adjust your communication strategy accordingly based on the interpersonal needs of whomever you are working with (or negotiating with etc.) at that time. Basically, you have to be extremely attentive to the professional cadence and habits of others; are they driven by a Type A, perfectionist nature? Or are they someone who likes to 'fly by the seat of their pants', more rooted in the discussion and excitement of big ideas than the calculated breakdown of process and specifics? Do they require timely nods to their ego throughout their professional process, or do they prefer a stripped-down, no-bullshit communication stream?
The better you are at reading and understanding the people around you, mindfully pinpointing their habits and quirks (even if they may not readily acknowledge them), the better you will be able to communicate in an undeniable, successful manner.
2) Sitting at the Helm of the Ship
With greater risk, comes greater reward. As an entrepreneur, you are sitting at the helm of the ship. Hell, you built the ship you're standing on. The rewards is yours, but so is the risk.
This means that, unlike the feeling of being nestled within a large corporate structure (where most of your co-workers or the company's big players might not even notice you, most of the time), there is no degree of separation. You are the big player. You will be hyper-aware of every movement, whether it be a smooth shift in the right direction, or an impending sh*t storm.
This requires you to maintain a level head, and a firm grasp on the wheel that is driving your success. In most cases, this "wheel" comes down to your ideas (and the way they evolve and adapt), your habits and process and the individuals/team you surround yourself with. This is the only way you will weather potential storms that come your way, without bending or cracking under that assumed pressure, responsibility and risk.
3) You Have to Love the Process
When listening to the habits and learnings of some of our most notable entrepreneurs and thought leaders, such as Gary Vaynerchuck and Tim Ferriss, you'll notice a common theme. They all relentlessly discuss the importance of habits and process.
Here's the thing though, it's not just about having a process. It's about loving the process. If you have a desired outcome or professional destination/milestone in mind, but you can't actively get behind the process required to get from point A to point B, how can you expect to close that gap? It's easy to make grandiose statements like, "I want to make 1 million in profits by ___ age" or "I want to be a highly sought-after thought leader in my industry by next year", but they don't mean anything without the execution of meticulous, daily process and mindfulness that will support their eventual culmination. You have to love that professional grind; the many moments where things will be incredibly uncertain, ultimately hinging on your ability to execute continuously and fearlessly with that bigger picture in mind.
It's never easy, but if you truly love the process, including the set-backs, short-term sacrifices for long-term gain and the less than glamorous steps required, you will have the capacity to succeed.
4) Invest in People, Not Just Ideas
Great ideas are often nothing, without the support of the right people. Large-scale professional and entrepreneurial success is almost never a one-man show.
You could be a creative genius or an industry maverick in your own right, but if you fail to invest in (and align yourself with) great, accredited people and mentors, alongside your great ideas, your concepts could ultimately get lost in translation and execution.
5) You Need a Plan, but You Can't Live or Die by it
Any entrepreneur will tell you, things rarely go according to plan. While your habits, plans and process will define the backbone of your professional execution and success, you can't be so intimately attached to your plan that you derail at any sign of chaos.
Your plan is important, but your ability to react, stay calm/focused and adapt your plan as necessary, is more important.
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