An entrepreneur is a proud name for people who have the courage and wit to kick off their business and cruise through the world of financial ups and downs.
As many people know, not everyone in business reaches success, since more than half of ventures fail in the first 5-year span—only the strongest survive. Moreover, only 12% of the top 500 companies have managed to stay afloat since 1966 to 2016, making it obvious that there's a lot of work to do if you want your startup dynasty to grow and flourish.
It’s no secret that the free market can be rough, but there’s beauty about it—it only depends on you how to take a stand and deal with inbound and outer factors. Your personal qualities, alongside with an attitude towards business, is what sets the pace for a venture before it's even launched, so make sure you put your mind to it and get things right.
The next logical question is “What are these qualities?” Well, you don't have to pay for a mentor or buy a book. Luckily, there are a ton of stories about failures and successes from predecessors.
My personal experience and theirs allowed us to squeeze in some valuable info about which useful skills should be possessed for you to thrive, and here are some of them:
1. Critical Thinking
There can be several co-founders that make decision-making in your company democratic; but remember that, like in a country under a dictatorship, it's always the boss who will receive the praise or get blamed for the end result. Therefore, you have to keep in mind that there's not much room for mistakes—being honest with and critical about yourself is the best way to avoid them.
Critical thinking has no clear definition; it’s a set of principles that spur you to analyze, interpret, conclude, and evaluate your own decisions and ideas.
Spontaneous insights have surely spawned lots of great products, but on a larger scale, it's always the logical thinking that helps you consider factors such as demand, quality, production, and advertisement that will make your company flourish.
2. Problem-Solving Mentality
No business is a road free of bumps, so problems occur from time to time. It can be a production bottleneck, staff flow, or market inconsistency, so make sure you’re ready to deal with these hurdles if you want a company to move forward. Addressing the issues before they emerge is great but requires vast mastery, so if a problem happens, it should be tackled immediately.
Actually, the speed factor is more than just fixing the troubles—it shows others how much you care about the company and lead by your own example. It displays that the company has future plans and is ready to react if things don't go the way they were intended to go.
You should never be afraid or stressed by problems; at its core, entrepreneurship implies facing and dealing with them. So, even if there's a failure, just analyze it, try to fix, and move forward.
3. Imposing Your Will
Regardless of how much you respect the opinion of the people surrounding you, being persuasive is a quality you can't miss. You don't have to be vocal for that matter; it's more about making people believe in your ideas when dealing with potential investors, adherents, and the staff that makes the whole production possible.
Don't be afraid to upset anyone. Determination is an essential skill for leading the charge, and you need to be able to light up the idea and make everyone follow it. Be ready to encounter people around who won't always agree with you, but that's for the best. It's a good indicator that they care and have their own opinion.
Keep in mind that everyone sees the world from different angles, but it's you who should make the final decision. Regardless of how logical everyone's argument is, make everyone believe YOUR words mean the most as if you're the captain of the Starfleet Enterprise from Star Trek.
The fact that you want to launch a startup is already a great indication of bravery and creativity, but you have to carry that fire throughout the venture's life if you want to see improvement. Copying other companies' ways to success is not the worst choice, but if you want to stand out in a highly-saturated market, implementing cool ideas is the way to go. There are a ton of ways for you to soak the inspiration from such as books, movies, or traveling—intriguing experiences can generate intriguing ideas.
However, there's another, more structured approach that implies 5 major activities to get inspired: observing, networking, experimenting, associating, and questioning; call it "trained creativity", if you will.
But still, the main condition will always be your faith—you should believe when you come up with a stellar product that it could be used and enjoyed by yourself. Just don't let your train of thought go off the reality rails—the idea should always be applicable, that's the main purpose.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Benjamin Franklin was very clear about the importance of the planning process and this quote still applies to this day. As we all expect our creations to be a long-lasting journey, it's good to have a clue about the way it develops over time; history has plenty of sudden success stories, but it's usually hard work and precise planning that become a major part of a triumph.
The plans for strategy, funding, roadmap, branding, and advertisement are the backbone for any startup to be later transformed into a large company—well-planned success is what unites big ventures that knew what they wanted from the start. Even technologies change over time, so don't hesitate to adjust your future plans accordingly; a good entrepreneur is like a chess player, always viewing the perspective one or more steps ahead.
6. Service Orientation
Whether you believe in Buddhism or not, karma is an ever-present factor in business life. Yes, money is the main reason for creating startups, but it's important to remember that pleasing the customers is the ultimate goal—the way you treat customers often pays back.
You need to care about what they think of your product, and if there's a chance to have some sort of focus-group, quiz, or beta-testing, don't hesitate to do so. If you can separate and extract good feedback from all the responses, this will give you an edge over competitors in the pursuit of making customers happy.
Customers are used to a "corporate" attitude from big companies, so if a venture shows its loyalty, the user base will always appreciate it. A customer-first approach is impossible without the founder being compassionate and feeling empathy about users' problems; therefore, it's necessary to be able to put yourself in their place and then guess how to keep everyone happy, including employees and stakeholders.
7. Ability to Learn
You can finish high school or even a university, but the learning process should never stop. Unfortunately, there was no such subject as "tax management" or "how to make a startup work"; tons of courses or lectures aren't helpful either, so the only choice is to learn from your experience or someone else's.
In the real world, things like frameworks, scheduling, negotiations, and business planning are a different beast, so make sure you master these things in real-life situations and not based on internet-guides or books. Even this blog post is more about general recommendations and is not a guide on how to become the best of the best entrepreneurs.
Networking, on top of cracking deals, is hands-down the best option to gain experience without making mistakes on your own. Outbound consultants can also be helpful when you're dealing with legal procedures, advertising, and promotion, so their examples could be learned by you and used in the future.
You should also cut your teeth on hiring over time—after all, it's an inevitable practice for smaller companies' CEOs to be a part of the onboarding process. This will be a nice perk to make high-tier hires when the company grows bigger.
Having enough money is not a remedy; a good entrepreneur is like a good employee and should have a set of qualities to fit that role. Although hard skills play a crucial role in your success, personal traits can come on top when managing a company with numerous employees on board.
On top of having problem-solving and analyzing skills, a good CEO should be a creative and compassionate person as well. Things like persuasion, planning, and the ability to learn are also factors that distinguish a good businessman from someone who wants to toss around money and hope that everything works just fine.
For certain, launching a startup is a big deal but, on a larger scale, isn’t a great achievement itself. Making it flourish is what can really make you look like an achiever, so don’t hesitate to improve upon your personal traits—they will pay off with impressive results.