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3 Crucial Personality Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur
If you have an innovative idea and the drive to be the master of your own destiny, you may have the heart of an entrepreneur.
For those with entrepreneurial spirit, starting a business is a form of self-actualization: business is a performance art, and a start-up is a magnum opus.
An entrepreneur’s start-up isn’t just their livelihood. It’s their “baby,” an extension of their creative self. It is dedication to their vision that motivates entrepreneurs to forgo safer career options for the risky and often grueling path of starting a business.
However, to bring your start-up idea from vision to fulfillment depends on far more than a brilliant idea.
The personality traits of a successful entrepreneur
The most successful entrepreneurs have three crucial characteristics that allow them to succeed:
- Openness to risk
- Good business judgment
- Ability to adapt
Openness to risk
As an entrepreneur, you are seeking to capitalize on an insight to create something new and profitable.
Risk is inherent here: if you believe that you know with complete certainty what the outcome of your actions will be, you are either unrealistically confident, or you are not truly doing something “new.”
Building a magnum opus takes true business innovation. You must be eager and willing to accept the risk that the outcome will not be what you envision, while reducing that risk through the use of good business judgment. Even if your product or service has been around for a long time in order to realize a competitive advantage, you must innovate, perhaps in how you deliver, perhaps in how you attract customers. Doing something new means taking a risk.
Good business judgment
Successful entrepreneurs complement their passion for their “baby” with a realistic sense of the obstacles they will face in building their businesses.
Developing good business judgment means being able to articulate risk factors and mitigations. You must be able to concretely state:
- What you expect to accomplish
- How your innovation will lead you there
- What evidence has been gathered to understand whether your idea is working or needs refinement.
Otherwise, you will not know whether success came from insight or mere coincidence. You will not know whether failure stems from a fundamental flaw or simply a need to exercise the third skill of an entrepreneur: the ability to adapt.
Ability to adapt
Adaptability is where we truly see the “art” of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs know that they will have to adapt as they discover new information about the market, about technology, or about themselves.
One of the traits that allows successful entrepreneurs to persevere through business failures is a commitment to refine their insight, getting better and better as they take in new information. As stewards of the insight and course of action, they must recognize when a moment has come that demands a pivot and be able to take the leap.
The importance of entrepreneurial allies
Potential entrepreneurs should understand that even innovators with all the personality traits to succeed are not lone heroes.
The strongest allies of many successful entrepreneurs are their loved ones, especially spouses. These supporters recognize their partners’ tendency to embrace risk, and rather than run away - they accept and cherish it.
When I married my wife, she knew I was entrepreneurial. While she was not risk averse, she did not embrace risk as much as I did. When I founded Han Santos, we had a young child, a mortgage, and I was the sole breadwinner. I was leaving a position as a partner in an established law firm into the great unknown.
But when I asked my wife whether I should do a startup, she was not surprised by my question, and she unhesitatingly supported me. I’m grateful for her confidence. Many of the most accomplished entrepreneurs have similar stories of loved ones whose commitment was crucial to their success.
If you have an idea whose potential you believe in and you recognize in yourself the boldness, wisdom, and adaptability to succeed as an entrepreneur, you will find that starting a business is an art that can bring deep personal satisfaction.
Much like a sculptor, painter, or performer, you will grow in unexpected ways while channeling your creative spirit to build your magnum opus.
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