In a new business thinking report, 111 business owners were asked to choose the top three entrepreneur qualities they believe define them. The responses were:
Ability to spot an opportunity (31%)
Willingness to take risks (31%)
Positive mental attitude (12%)
The report also uncovered the main barriers to success they face:
Lack of finance for investment (39%)
Lack of business confidence (33%)
Too little time in the working day (31%)
The same report noticed that 46% of business owners studied have entrepreneur qualities of being good with the written word, 45% said they are good public speakers, and 39% are good with numbers. Few people have this mix of skills, never mind combining them with the ability to sell their ideas to employees, investors and customers and never give up.
When we scout to invest venture capital into entrepreneurs, certain qualities beyond the bottom line of their business are essential in the decision-making process. It isn't only about money, although we believe in making good returns, but also determination, grit and character. It's about what makes an entrepreneur tick.
It's almost cliché, but passion drives most business owners—the excitement of creating and building something that didn't exist before can become an obsession.
Although we believe in a balanced and healthy lifestyle, nothing can quickly extinguish an entrepreneur's vision for their business and the grind to see it work. An entrepreneur thinks about it constantly and envisions their ideas into existence.
The CEO of Acumen Software, Joao Zoio, had this to say about entrepreneur qualities that make him tick:
"I am mostly product-focused and believe ours are better than any others. They are like my children. I, therefore, monitor their performance and uptake closely and what our clients have to say about them. When there's a good response, I want us to do better, and when bad, I am devastated, and my stress levels usually go through the roof. I won't rest until we resolve any issues. I can be impatient, wanting everything done in record time with instant results. When we win, I keep celebrations short because there is always more we can achieve".
That kind of passion makes an entrepreneur stand out from his peers, not with arrogance but in a way that has an impact. That impact should positively affect family, friends and community in a refreshing and uplifting way because an entrepreneurs passion inspires hope in others.
Creativity and innovation
Entrepreneurs are blue ocean strategists. Joseph Schumpeter, a 20th-century economist, defined the entrepreneur as "a disruptive force in an economy". To compete in the modern global marketplace, entrepreneurs must push beyond what is possible and overcome creativity limits.
Entrepreneurs have qualities that find new approaches to old problems, sometimes shattering the status quo rather than living under its shadow.
"Entrepreneurs have a hunger to make the world a better place. One needs to be sensitive to the many problems that surround us. An entrepreneur will not sit back and complain and wait for somebody to fix it but will roll up their sleeves and develop a solution. They may be financially better off once the solution returns, but this is often a coincidence. The main fascination is problem-solving", Anton Baumann, Empowerment Capital.
Persistence develops through hardship. The actual definition of persistence is 'the fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action despite difficulty or opposition’. The continual bouncing back and standing upright with optimism intact despite massive resistance builds character, which bears fruit in the long run and refines and the qualities of an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are always sure their ideas are going to work. Seeking wise counsel is bright, but ultimately entrepreneurs have a quality of doing things their way, their process for working through complex problems and trust their gut with the right decisions.
Coupled with persistence is attention to detail. Measuring twice and cutting once can be forgotten when there is so much to keep track of.
Keeping organised from meetings to finances is an entrepreneurial quality that’s crucial for being a successful leader. Not paying attention to all that is going on leads to mistakes that can snowball out of control. The devil really can be, in the detail.
Being detailed can also mean focussing on just one thing. And although most entrepreneurs have qualities that believe in being the best in the world at one thing Malcolm Gladwell, the famous business author of 'Tipping Point, believes the creativity required to be successful means steering clear of being one thing.
Malcolm Gladwell has this to say about limiting yourself:
"The most important thing is never to make a decision about yourself that limits your options. Self-conceptions are powerfully limiting. In the act of defining yourself, you start to close off opportunities for change, and that strikes me as being a very foolish thing to do if you're not 85-years-old."
Adoption of technology
Technology doesn't scare an entrepreneur or make them uncomfortable. They look for ways to capitalise on its development.
Continually researching, testing, probing and exploring what technology can do to better business advancement and economic growth is one of the cornerstones of entrepreneur qualities. It's about harnessing the power technology can offer today while anticipating future technological advances.
Part of the entrepreneurial qualities makeup is the excitement of stepping into the unknown, but that can come with unknown risks. An entrepreneur must be calculated by weighing up the risks while pioneering forward.
Entrepreneurs are flexible and are not gamblers. Although they seem to stomach more risk and the ups and downs the territory comes with, they are calculated and sophisticated in their risk making decisions. They have an entrepreneurial quality of vision and can play out different outcome scenarios with confidence in their ability. When things don't work out as planned, they have a playbook to improve or shift direction.
Great networking can breed great opportunities, including the partnerships venture capital companies offer. To play in today's global landscape, entrepreneurs need to cultivate their qualities and grow their networks, access new funding sources like venture capital and surround themselves with positive and similarly minded people.
A great entrepreneurial quality is looking for ways to expand their skillset. They're masters at digesting enormous amounts of data, assimilating it, and using it to innovate in creative ways. This continual learning promotes ideation. If entrepreneurs don't learn and explore improvement, they become stale.
As Spencer Johnson wrote in 'Who moved my cheese',
"It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation."
Smart relationships and keeping others in mind is the most important of entrepreneur qualities
The Guardian Life Index study from www.smallbiz.com, found that success-orientated business owners are more open to "creating opportunities for others." Entrepreneurs possess qualities to foster strong relationships with their team, suppliers and customers and delegate when needed. They know how to build away from themselves, creating opportunities for others and understanding there are people better at doing something than they are.
Thando Hlongwane, a co-founder and CEO of Lipa Payments, says,
"Entrepreneurs are motivated by the opportunity to create value for customers by solving their biggest problems. The opportunity to monetise that value is what enables entrepreneurs to work under extreme uncertainty in pursuit of repeatable and scalable business models".