So you want to be an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is more than just starting your own business. The job requires a select set of qualities in order to become even remotely successful. Although there are many attributes one needs in order to make it as an entrepreneur, the following qualities are absolutely essential to the core of entrepreneurship.
Without a clear vision you can’t possibly hope to accomplish your goals. You need to not only think outside the box, but also think of what the box will look like in the next five, ten, or twenty years into the future. Your vision is the map to the company’s future, and if you can’t lay out that map out for your employees how can you expect them to help you reach a destination of success? When the iPod was first released many believed that it had a limited market, but Steve Jobs had the vision to bring the product to world from day one. He didn’t just wake up one day and say “you know I think today I’m going to try and make this iPod thing a big hit.” He knew from day one that he wanted to disrupt an entire industry, and it was that vision that led him down the path of success.
No one should be more passionate about your company than you. If you don’t wake up every morning and get excited to work on your startup, there’s something wrong. As the most influential member of the company you need to set the bar of energy and excitement above and beyond your own expectations. Nick Swinmurn, Founder of Zappos.com, had an amazing passion for customer service; which is why the company is so successful today. Your level of passion should be obvious to your employees and should inspire them to set their own passions at the highest possible standard.
Entrepreneurship is about creation. No matter what market you are in you will always have some form of competition. In order to separate yourself from the rest of the pack you’re going to need to have some solid creativity. Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, took the simple concept of photo sharing and added a creative filter system that changed the way we share images on the web. Passion, vision, and group discussion are the driving force beyond creative ideas; so be sure to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can help enhance your own creativity.
Entrepreneurship is not for the feint at heart. As the Founder, the responsibility of taking care of the entire company rests on your shoulders. When your business succeeds, you praise your employees; however when you business fails the responsibility rests solely in your hands. As your business grows, so too will your responsibility. Dave Morin, CEO of Path, took personal responsibility by issuing an apology for downloading user address books without permission. If you’re not ready to take on that type responsibility then you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur.
Leadership is the most obvious quality that an entrepreneur needs to have, but ironically many entrepreneurs don’t exactly understand how to go about being a great leader. Leadership is not something you can learn from a Leadership For Dummies book, it’s a characteristic that involves a constant process of iteration. Although many entrepreneurs are natural leaders, great leaders are not born overnight. Some of the greatest leaders in the world have failed over and over again, but it is the lessons they learned from their failures that eventually led them to become legendary leaders. Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky, failed to respond appropriately to a customer who had her home vandalized by an Airbnb user; but then offered an unconditional apology along with a $50,000 insurance guarantee when he finally addressed the issue. It’s not the failure that characterized Brian’s leadership skills, it’s the lessons he learned from that failure that helped shape him into a better leader.
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