Starting your own business is a big step. You want your passion to be recognized and appreciated by people who share similar interests. Or, maybe they didn’t know they needed something until you introduced it to them! Yes, the process is intimidating, but being an entrepreneur also means you are the writer of your own success story. While you may not know where to start, remember that even the most successful entrepreneurs were in your shoes at one point in time. How did they do it?
These are the top 15 traits that every entrepreneur should have to be successful:
1. Be Confident
Without confidence, your goals are nearly impossible to meet. Have a vision for your business, both short-term and long-term, and have the gusto to accomplish them. Be realistic, but passionate about overcoming obstacles. Take every opportunity to promote your vision and make others believe in it, as well. If you believe in yourself, then your team will believe in you, too. It took a lot of guts to open your business, so don’t let the energy fizz out.
2. Be Flexible
Always maintain a sense of flexibility with plans and ideas. If an idea isn’t working, toss it and try something new. A good entrepreneur explores all options and isn’t stubborn to change. Keep your schedule flexible as well. Your time is valuable, and no one needs round-the-clock access. But, be willing to put in some unconventional hours to get the job done.
3. Be Credible
Take ownership of what you do. Show your audience and competitors what you got. Your passion for your company should shine through in everything you do. Use it to cultivate your reputation in the industry so customers know and trust your company.
4. Be Humble
Assume some blame if things go wrong and share the credit when things go right. Being an entrepreneur means asking for help from time to time. Don’t forget to commend the people who come to your side when you’re in need. Don’t try to take on too many responsibilities; instead, recognize your needs and weaknesses and build a team that fills those gaps.
5. Be Focused and Organized
Write and follow a business plan, update your calendar, and create a clutter-free work space. Eliminate unnecessary distractions during your work time so you can devote your attention to setting and meeting goals. Be sure not to cram too much into your day, however. Pay attention to the most important things at the time and get them done. That way, you can stay on track with your work.
6. Be Financially Responsible
Know exactly how much money is coming in and from where, and how much is going out and to whom. Avoid a financial surprise that could quickly tear your startup apart. Maintain organized records and customer files to help your business run smoothly. After all, one of the biggest threats to an entrepreneur is letting bills and loans get out of hand.
7. Be Decisive
Once you have a plan, make it happen! Don’t second guess yourself, or wait for “the right time”. The only strategy worse than a failed strategy is the successful strategy you never executed.
8. Be Tenacious
You will encounter more than a few “No’s” in your pursuit of a “Yes!” Don’t give up. Follow up regularly with your contacts to keep their attention. You never know when a customer’s needs will change, or when a contact of theirs is looking for exactly what you offer.
9. Be Tech-Savvy
To an entrepreneur, technology is one of the most valuable tools. Stay on top of available technology, both in general and in your specific industry. Technology can save you time and money in performing essential business functions, help you stay organized, and pave the way for new solutions your company can provide.
10. Be an Expert in Your Industry
Know everything there is to know about upcoming trends, popular competitors, and product or service developments that can help you gain an edge. Subscribe to industry magazines and white papers to keep up with current events. Attend as many networking and training events as you can. In addition to teaching you more about the industry, going to these events allows you to network and get your name out there.
11. Be an Advocate
Be the consummate salesperson to prospective clients. Ask questions and pay careful attention to the answers. Show customers how your product or service can benefit them rather than rattling off a list of features. Make sure you play up your company’s advantage over competitors, especially if your price points differ. (Hint: don’t compete on price if you can, but if your price is organically lower than your competition, then don’t be afraid to say so.) Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale!
12. Be Attentive
Listen to every stakeholder and ask for input. Others may have ideas or concerns that you haven’t yet considered, and your customers will tell you exactly what they want. You have the right to make final decisions, but if you can take their feedback into consideration you will build a loyal customer base and a committed team.
13. Be Positive
Always be optimistic, even when you don’t feel it. If your audience sees that you believe in what you are doing, they will have more confidence in your ability to do it. Maintain a professional demeanor with regard to your competition. It is perfectly acceptable to highlight your competitive advantage, but it is never acceptable to badmouth your competitors. Remember: the entrepreneur you’re up against is in the same boat as you.
14. Be Involved
Building community support is essential to driving future success, so demonstrate a willingness to give back. Participate in or sponsor local events and institutions, stay on top of local politics, and give your neighbors the chance to know and respect you as a community figure and entrepreneur.
15. Be Practical
Finally, respect your passions outside of your business venture. It can be tempting to throw yourself completely into building your startup, but if you don’t take “you time”, you will eventually burn out. Make a conscious effort to step away from the business. Or, better yet, set aside regular periods of work-free time. Read a book, hike a trail, or spend time with your family to recharge and regain the focus you need to keep going.
The challenge of building a startup can seem overwhelming, but everybody has the potential to discover and refine these traits. Believe you can succeed.
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