by Cindy Wahler

True entrepreneurs change the world: do you have what it takes?

Jan 09, 2018
IT Leadership

The allure of an entrepreneur. Do you have the makings of a thought disruptor who can really change the world?

leadership circle
Credit: Thinkstock

Entrepreneurs are a special breed. Successful entrepreneurs are even more special. And of course, serial entrepreneurs are exceptionally rarefied.  

Most entrepreneurs prior to launching have had business experience in a corporate setting. Corporate or business exposure is crucial on many levels that include understanding the need for process, structure, profit and loss, technology as a strategic partner and many more vital aspects that contribute to thought disruptive endeavours.

Many people are enamoured or intrigued by entrepreneurs. There is the allure of flexibility, assumed work life balance, becoming rich overnight and of course doing something so cool most people have either never dreamed of or just don’t have the raw courage to embark on.

Pay attention to the level of interest or buzz around the dinner table or smart cocktail party. Your friends or guests are generally enamoured with the self-employed.  Why is that?

We have all had exposure to bad bosses, boredom, highly risk averse environments, that squelch creative thinking and mind-numbing process and procedures that make being in the dentist chair a picnic. Going to work with the masses can appear to be most unappealing.

But wait a minute. What many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t realise is that these very elements apply to all endeavours from celebrity athlete to performing artist to technology guru. In other words, nobody reaches prominence or gets rich overnight. Well at least almost nobody.

Successful entrepreneurs do recognise that structure and the mundane aspects of daily work is very much required to win.   However, there is a differentiator between traditional leaders and true entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs look at the world differently than most. They do have a set of skills and personality traits that set them apart. So, what does it take?  How many of these attributes do you possess? And I do mean, really possess.

1. Unbridled passion

Entrepreneurs almost always fail before they reach the global stage. As they embark on their notions on how to change the world they are often blinded by their intense and sometimes singular focus. There is a naiveté of what is involved from the intense heavy lifting to many variables they assumed were just not that relevant.  True entrepreneurs never give up. Failure spurs them on and adds fuel for unswerving commitment.

2. Great storyteller

You must have the ability to attract and inspires others to be part of your overriding passion. Great inventors are in constant communication with their colleagues. To think that an idea can be brought to successful fruition all by yourself is short sighted. Smart conversations that allow for ideas to be vetted, challenged, and ultimately reshaped or even disbanded is crucial. 

3. Appetite for risk

Being successful at doing something unique means that you must have the ability to challenge the status quo. You need to have thick skin. For every person who may be inspired, you will almost always have a larger group that will claim your platform is unrealistic, not scalable or lacks a true market.   Risk takers see beyond these naysayers. They are prepared to take risks that include challenges in attracting investors, securing the right talent, living on meagre resources and the application of a highly disciplined approach that allows for reframing and recalibration.

4. Insatiable curiosity

Think about little kids or your brand-new puppy. They are constantly asking great questions, nipping at your heels.  For the self employed seeing the world as a realm of undiscovered possibilities is their canvass. Change agents are constantly in discovery mode, asking probing questions, driving for more, never allowing their minds to rest.

5. Ability to execute

Most of us know people who have great ideas. Very few have brought these ideas to fruition. Forging ahead with undying perseverance requires relentless energy and inexhaustible conviction. It requires change, risk and the unknown. Entrepreneurs, sage ones, have a belief they can change the world. They don’t stay awake at night dreaming, they are propelled to action.

If you have a burning passion you must have an unfailing belief in yourself and the ability to be humble all at the same time. Modesty combined with conviction and confidence will allow you to persevere and pivot simultaneously.

These two set of traits, the ability to be agile and possess strong conviction appear to be contradictory. In many ways they are. Successful entrepreneurs who are more than one hit wonders have these complimentary sets of attributes. They not only make great dinner guests, they truly make the world a better place.