A while back, when a startup founder mentioned to me that he wasn’t sure he had the personality to be an entrepreneur, I realized how important that insight was. My first thought is that if you are more annoyed than energized by expert advice, team suggestions, and customer input, then you should probably avoid this line of work.
Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but that’s a good start. After working with entrepreneurs for more than a decade, I have developed a good “radar” to quickly recognize mentalities that will likely pass the test of investors, employees, and customers.
But it’s easier for me to look in from the outside than it is for you to look out. So here is a list of mentality characteristics which I believe are absolutely necessary for you as an entrepreneur to see in yourself. On the other hand, if you see any of these causing you stress and discomfort, you probably won’t be happy in the role of entrepreneur:
- You enjoy being the visionary leader. Being able to envision what the business and the industry will be like in years to come is a skill that can guarantee that you will be around for the long haul. What makes most success stories in business is not totally reinventing the wheel, but leading the charge to make the current wheel better.
- Sometimes you are creative, sometimes logical. A successful entrepreneur has to come up with innovative ideas, but also turn them into a value-creating profitable business. That requires good amounts of both “left brain” and “right brain” activities, with enough common sense to find the balance.
- Risk energizes you. To really enjoy the ride in the world of entrepreneurship, you need to be able to sustain yourself outside of your comfort zone and have a sense of adventure. Startups never ever go as you anticipated. This is why you need to be ready to go “off the script” and improvise, and enjoy the thrill of victory when it works.
- Actively seek others input. The quicker you learn not to take it personally (and it’s hard when it’s your business and your creation), the more successful you will be. You will always come across people that will criticize you, no matter how great or valuable your product or service may be.
- Motivated yet patient. When you start a business, you need to have the frame of mind that this is what you want to do for the rest of your life. Most people want financial freedom, but they want results immediately, and that is not the case 99% of the time. Most successful entrepreneurs understand that overnight success takes years.
- Jack of all trades. When running a business, you’ll be doing a little bit of everything. You have to be good but not an expert at everything you do, and you have to know when to be flexible and when to ask for help. If you are one to specialize in just one thing, then running a business might not be for you.
If you don’t fit into everyone’s personal view of an entrepreneur’s mentality, please don’t be totally discouraged. Winning businesses have been started by people of every type. Yet overall, the facts are that about two-thirds of startups fail, so think hard before you ignore warning signs.
I’m convinced that if entrepreneurs spent half as much time evaluating themselves and what makes them happy, as they do writing business plans, and visiting with attorneys and accountants, they would be winners far more often.
Finally, don’t forget that the most important mentality aspect is to always do something that you enjoy. Life is too short to be going to work every day unhappy. Beyond that, I believe success is a state of mind derived from confidence, self esteem, and what you really want in life. How strongly do you really want to manage a startup?