What makes a successful entrepreneur and why?
Perseverance. No really. You can be a brilliant MIT graduate with all the connections in the world, and a groundbreaking technology, but nothing happens overnight. You have to be able to stick with it through all of the trials, all of the awful pitches, all of the no’s, being broke, being lonely, being frustrated. If you don’t have the grit and will to push through all of the negatives of being an entrepreneur, and just survive, you wont last too long. Rarely do you found the next Instagram or Snap chat, going viral overnight and being picked up for billions in a matter of a year or two. Often you slog through horrors until the market is ready for you, it might be 3 years, it might be 20 years.
What skills or traits do I need to be an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs need to be able to take in a lot information, and glean some insights from it to apply to what they are doing. I read constantly, and am always surprised at what can spark ideas or solve problems. Being able to look at a 30,000 foot view of a problem, do a quick survey of an industry or area of science, and then zoom in on a solution is a really important ability to have.
Entrepreneurs usually need to be humble as well. There’s always someone who’s been there first, always someone who’s smarter than you, and always someone you can learn from. If you go in like you’re the end-all-be-all you wont attract the right people to make yourself successful.
How do I succeed?
Beyond what I said above, you really need to commit to it. It’s a lifestyle, and if you have a family, the whole family becomes an entrepreneur family. It might mean no vacations, a smaller house, tighter budges, and often meager Christmases. If everyone isn’t committed to it, you’re going to have a lot of distracting strife. You have to be able to keep motivated and sacrifice today’s comforts for tomorrow’s returns, always looking at the long game.
Pro-Tips for entrepreneurs
- Learn everything you can, from everyone you can.
- Network like crazy, always provide value to people you meet, and be humble in the process.
- Find a mentor who’s been there before.
- Have your own house in order.
That last one is probably the most important part. Personally, professionally, financially, you have to have your ducks in a row or you’ll miss opportunities. Your finances need to be awesome so you can A) have enough money to take opportunities and make leaps of faith, and B) when you’re in due diligence you should probably have decent credit, or a great story why you don’t. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs that put more value on the lifestyle, and looking and acting like an entrepreneur than they do in actually being an entrepreneur. If you walk into my office hours with all the gadgets, a $2,000 suit, and a BMW, but complain you don’t have enough cash to bootstrap, I can’t feel sorry for you because you did that to yourself.