There are different stages that an entrepreneur goes through in developing their business. We often hear that a new business starts off as an idea, goes through a few rounds of research and development, search and secure funding, hiring a startup team, launching new venture, marketing the product or service and officially moves into operation mode. The length and sequence of these events may differ depending on the type of product or service that is being created. In the field of project management, we call these stages of events a product (project) lifecycle.
Surviving this lifecycle can be challenging. Many people who thought they were entrepreneurs fail. These people gave up on their startup plans because they lost focus, drive and passion. You may say, what about money? Of course, a lack or loss of funding can be a big obstacle, but a true entrepreneur will always find a way around this, and secure new investors and other revenue sources.
Here are my top eleven characteristics that give this person the grit they need to survive the lifecycle of an entrepreneur:
#1. Ask yourself, do you have that entrepreneurial Zeal?
You’ve got to have entrepreneurial zeal to create not one, not two, not three, but several companies, even if, say, the first three are complete failures. It takes a specific mindset to be a Mark Cuban or Lori Greiner, get up from previous mistakes and go on to become business legends.
#2. Are you willing to bet it all and be a risk taker?
Risk taking is a trait you see in entrepreneurs. Some quit school – which is a risk in itself, given the fewer career prospects a degree-less profile attracts – while others have sacrificed their family and social lives. Think of how Daymond John bet it all on FUBU clothing brand or Russell Simmons in starting Def Jam Records.
#3. Are you too concerned with what people say about you or can you “wipe the dust off your shoulder” and display self-confidence?
To be an entrepreneur, you must display strong self-confidence. You must possess a solid dose of self-confidence, the kind that shields you from self-doubt and makes you impervious to criticism, even if the path you take seems not to work … in the short term. You can say too much of self-confidence becomes stubbornness, egoism or narcissism. And you would be right! But, the bottom line is, you need strong self-confidence to be a Bill Gates, Jay Z or Nicki Minaj.
#4. Will your ADD kick in and cause you to lose focus or do you have the patience to see it through?
Patience is essential for all successful entrepreneurs. Ask Oprah Winfrey who waited for several years before seeing her economic star shine and attaining domestic and international fame. Patience goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence and passion, and most serial entrepreneurs don’t have a problem being patient. This is because they are so passionate about their idea or vision, they are willing to wait as long as necessary to see it through.
There are a lot of smart people that experienced business failure because they refused help from others and went at it alone. Seek a mentor, preferably someone who has already walked the entrepreneurial path you now want to take. Also tap into your network to surround yourself with competent professionals, including experts in finance, business management, marketing and law. The hip-hop super group, The Wu Tang Clan was successful in branching off their different ventures because they built a business empire with the help of their entire Clan.
#6. Do you dabble in the idea or do you have an in-depth understanding?
Entrepreneurs are curious beings. They want to know how it works, how it is created, what is causing the problem, what is the solution, how will it make money, who are the experts, how many lives will it change and how do I turn this into a business? They want to be able to have a full understanding as to what makes things tick.
#7. Do you see problems in business or opportunities and solutions?
Entrepreneurs are opportunists. They see opportunity and take advantage of it right away. They believe in the idea that every problem has a solution. I always tell my entrepreneurship students to think about the profits later. If you develop a sustainable solution to a real business problem, the clients and money will come.
#8. Do you let others drive or do you prefer to take the steering wheel?
Entrepreneurs want to make or influence the decision. If you spent a significant amount of time trying to understand how something works and researching the cause of the problem and creating a solution, then you definitely want to be a part of the decision-making process.
#9. Do you wait for others to make a difference or are you a change agent?
Many entrepreneurs act as catalysts for social change. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank, epitomizes the ability of social entrepreneurs to spearhead positive change not only locally, but also globally. The Grameen Bank has received plaudits for promoting microfinance and microcredit, lifting millions of underprivileged customers out of poverty by funding local projects at favorable conditions.
#10. Do you always need people to motive you or do you inspire others?
Social entrepreneurs inspire others to do good, and sometimes great, things—simple as that. Their ability to espouse great ideas and bring others on board serves as a powerful catalyst to create a virtuous circle. In addition to well-known social entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, there are lesser-known but also effective social entrepreneurs who bring about change every day in the communities where they live and work.
#11. Closing out the lifecycle
Entrepreneurs are deeply embedded in the practice of entrepreneurship is passion. They have unique traits that make them successful in the long term, even if short-term business stints do not pan out. These traits range from patience and self-confidence to passion, optimism and pursuit of happiness. Last but not least, perseverance is an essential trait to have in order to successfully survive the entrepreneurship lifecycle.
Listen to more advice from Dr. Emad Rahim on Entrepreneur Podcast Network