You can find many lists of characteristics that, when combined, make someone an excellent entrepreneurial candidate. What many of those lists leave out is the hard stuff; the characteristics that will get you through the rough patches. Here are a few characteristics you must have to succeed as a global entrepreneur:
1. The ability to be alone. Many times, when starting a business, you are a team of one. Sometimes working alone is relieving and getting lost in the building of your new business can be exciting. But sometimes the people around you won’t understand your mission. They may think you were crazy for leaving the stable corporate job you once had, or that you need to aim lower. In those moments, you will feel alone.
2. A healthy dose of intuition. There are many people who will support your endeavours and there are many people who try to use your business for their own gain. Surrounding yourself with a group of knowledgeable experts is essential. But at the end of the day, you have to go with your intuition and gut instinct. At least, no matter what the outcome, the decisions are yours. This leads us to #3.
3. The courage to make hard decisions. The fun part about being an entrepreneur is that you get to call the shots. The hard part is that you HAVE to call the shots. Choices will come to you at a million miles per minute and you are responsible for the outcomes. It takes courage to willingly accept that much responsibility, but if you get mired down in the burden, your business will never move forward. Make the best decision you can with the information you have and move on.
4. A dedication to saying “NO”. It takes every available ounce of energy you have to start and grow your own business. And if you, like most people, have hobbies and fun things you like to do in your “down time”, you will probably have to put them on the shelf for a while. “Thanks for the invite, but I have work I need to do”, will become a common answer to a Saturday evening dinner invitation. It’s OK. You are working hard now so you can play hard later.
5. Real definition of the word “fail”. – This may be the most difficult of them all. Failing is not a word that any of us like to be associated with. It’s hard to approach a potential client, or pitch your idea to an investor, and be shot down. It’s even harder to know that there’s a chance your business may not succeed in the way you dream it will. Being open to the possibility of failure is key to starting a successful business. Seeing the opportunity in setbacks will help you redefine the word fail.
6. An exit strategy. It is true that growing a successful business takes complete dedication. Being “all-in” is vital. But the reality is that sometimes even the most airtight business models can crumble. It’s often something that you never saw coming and may be completely outside of your control. It is healthy and even responsible to have a safety net and back-up plan in case things don’t work out the way you want them to.
7. Know what you know, and what you don’t. Confidence will throw you into the limelight quickly and understanding the ins and outs of your product and service is a must. Arrogance is not only annoying, it will get you into serious trouble. It is impossible for a business owner to be an expert on everything. Choose the few areas you will focus to be good at, then surround yourself with other experts who can help you with the rest.