Over the past few years, Gallup Research has found that people with innate entrepreneurial talent have higher levels of success, are better at noticing business opportunities, and are more natural salespeople and networkers than their less talented peers. They also suggest that while hard work and steady practice are important, those with innate talent will still see much greater returns. That's the bad news.
The good news, Gallup finds, is that you're likely to be most successful when you work with your dominant natural talents and identify your potential. That's where self-assessment and diligent study take place. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, identify your strongest assets, continuously nurture those innate abilities while managing areas of weakness, and study what other successful business leaders and innovators have done. The more you can emulate their achievements and identify like-minded talents, the more likely you are to realize your own success.
Looking for a place to start? Here are 12 things all successful entrepreneurs have in common:
1. Subject Matter Expertise
Despite drastically different career paths, leading entrepreneurs and innovators like Bill Gates and J.K. Rowling all have one thing in common: they were all domain experts before launching their businesses. Bill Gates, for instance, spent nearly 10 years in school programming in different computer systems before starting Microsoft.
Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame began writing at the age of six, and spent over seven years refining and perfecting her idea before it became a global sensation and boosted her net worth to over $1 billion.
2. A Growth Mindset
Entrepreneurs who intend to achieve a high level of success rapidly require a growth mindset. Jeff Haden describes it as the belief that your smarts and skill can all be developed through solid, continuous effort. Meanwhile, people with a fixed mindset who believe they aren't born with enough talent or don't have the time or resources to tackle their dreams don't get very far.
3. Intense Discipline
Building a business, securing funding, and going through years of struggle and near failure all require intense discipline to see success. And even with all of those things, many entrepreneurs realize their first dream isn't working, scrap the entire idea, and start building their next business or product. Successful entrepreneurship doesn't just take discipline, but intense discipline, to keep working through obstacles and moving forward.
Intense discipline and persistence go hand-in-hand, with the latter fueling the forward momentum needed to push through failures and showstopping stumbling blocks. Milton Hershey, as an example, dropped out of school in the 4th grade, and launched not one, but three, unsuccessful candy companies. He ultimately landed on a caramel recipe that was a hit and that paved the way to a multi-million dollar company.
Not all successful entrepreneurs were passionate about their business idea at the start. Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba, still doesn't know how to code, despite running a hugely successful tech company. But he is passionate about trying to help people and build an equitable society from within Communist China. That's no easy feat. Ma proves passion is more than just a feeling about your idea; it's an insatiable thirst to build a business against all odds.
Without curiosity, most successful entrepreneurs would fizzle once their industry or marketplace started to change. Business leaders need to have the curiosity that drives them to keep trying new things, discovering how things work, learning what motivates people to buy and studying where the future of their industry is headed.
Whether you're a successful entrepreneur or an employee at a corporate firm, success comes from being self-motivated. No one is going to build your business, hand you the keys and watch the profit roll in from afar. Successful entrepreneurs don't wait around for opportunities to be handed to them - they go after them and make their good fortune happen.
8. Risk Takers
You don't need to bet everything you own and stare down fear in order to be a successful risk taker. Author Paul B. Brown of "Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us" writes that entrepreneurs are actually quite risk-averse. What they do instead is limit their potential losses while diving in headfirst. That's why it looks like Richard Branson defies the odds while he seems to simultaneously launch businesses and skydive at the same time. In reality, he's just mastered the balance of risk management and acceptable loss.
It's true that, to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need an unflappable faith in your business and your ability to keep it moving forward. That faith may come from a commitment to self-discipline, motivation, or persistence. But successful entrepreneurs are also adaptable. Market trends change constantly, funding falls through, business partners flake, and ideas can fizzle. But successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and agile enough to find creative solutions to their obstacles, pivot to a new idea or industry, or start over from scratch.
10. Willingness to Fail
Failing fast became a mantra for some entrepreneurs over the last decade for good reason. Without a willingness to fail, most entrepreneurs would still be stubbornly pushing forward a doomed idea or never stepping up their game enough to realize explosive success. Failing isn't exactly pleasant, but it is part of the journey.
Agree or disagree with this list list? Let me know what you think makes a successful entrepreneur by leaving a comment below: