This Entrepreneur.com "best read'' was originally posted Oct. 28, 2014
Were you born to be an entrepreneur? Being successful requires a mix of characteristics that are both innate and learned. However, there are a few characteristics many phenomenal entrepreneurs have in common—and it’s not always dropping out of college to pursue their dreams. It’s often much subtler, and you can probably trace it back to your childhood.
The good news? Even if you don’t have all (or any!) of these traits, they can be learned or you can figure out your own complementary way to enjoy the benefits.
After all, innovation and thinking outside the box is what entrepreneurship is all about. How many of these characteristics do you have—and how many do you want to adopt?
1. They’re early risers.
Multiple studies have shown that “morning people” are more successful. However, there are plenty of successful night owls, too. It really doesn’t matter when you start punching the clock. What matters is your drive, ambition and commitment to tackling issues in a triage format. Many morning people simply find it easier to get started— procrastination is the real problem here, not whether you’re an early bird or not.
My advice: I personally have been an early riser for years, but not all entrepreneurs get up early. In fact, the average leader wakes up at 6:15am. I'm a 6:00 a.m. type of a guy. I have so much work to do running my web hosting startup that I need more hours in the day. I find that I can get most of my actual work done before most of the people come to the office. Then when people get in I can have meetings and "find" time for all the random work that gets thrown at you.
2. They see disparities.
A million-dollar idea is one that fills a need in the market. However, it takes an entrepreneur to spot disparities and gaps, then come up with ideas to fill them. Of course, any “new” idea that’s good will get its fair share of copy cats. There are some people who get rich simply by riding the coattails of others. That’s perfectly fine if that’s your niche, but natural entrepreneurs are the original creators.
My advice: Always be looking for opportunities in everything you do. Even at your current job or startup, you should be looking for opportunities. I've worked with Mitchell Stoker for years. We are always coming up with ideas and pitching each other. This helps us know a good idea when it comes our way. We've come up with some amazing ideas, as well as some terrible ones! Learn to spot an opportunity.
3. They have follow through.
Every team needs dreamers because they help shake the death grip of realists. However, very few entrepreneurs are 100 percent dreamers. You need follow through or nothing is going to happen. Entrepreneurs take things full circle. It’s why many of them were successful in sales—that “always be closing” mantra served them well and they won’t settle for loose ends.
My advice: Follow through on all your commitments. This lesson was taught to me by New York Times best selling author Joel Comm who told me years ago "When you make a commitment, it doesn't matter how small it is or if it's to someone you don't know online.... you better follow through." This has stuck with me over the past year as Joel has helped out countless people online because of commitments he's made. An exceptional leader is someone that follows through.
4. They challenged the status quo.
This is where the stories of Steve Jobs and others dropping out of school to pursue flights of fancy is really rooted. It’s not just about taking the path of least resistance. Entrepreneurs don’t accept things as is. They challenge “the way it’s always been done”. They want better, faster, and more, and they aren’t afraid to be the ones to do it. There’s no such thing as “good enough” for an entrepreneur.
My advice: When I started my first company that went big, I was going up against companies that had been selling homes for hundreds of years. I disrupted the model, I had success. I truly challenged the status quo. To be extremely successful, typically you have to come up with something disruptive that's out of the norm.
5. They’re money minded.
There’s a big difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur. You need to be money savvy if you want your business or idea to really take off. This isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, so you’ll either need to brush up on your personal finance and investing skills, get a reputable investor and CPA in your corner—or both. Otherwise, you won’t optimize your ideas and hard work into a lucrative business.
My advice: Look, without money you will be on the streets. Entrepreneurs need to understand money. If you're in debt, get out of it. Begin to be more money-minded. Learn how money works, early in life. If you're business doesn't make money at some point, you're not going to succeed...period. Don't let money consume you but build a business that makes a profit!
There’s no one path to becoming a phenomenal entrepreneur. However, learning from the mistakes of others (and their successes) means you’re not reinventing the wheel. Why sign on for more work than necessary?