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Five Essential Traits for Entrepreneurial Success
Do you have what it takes to build a thriving business?
I often get asked what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. And while everyone’s situation is different, I have found that there are some common traits among those who have succeed with building their own businesses.
#1 Have thick skin
My first business was a Velcro surfer wallet business. I got licenses from popular bands and put their names and logos on the wallets. They sold like hotcakes. Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes running that business, and when I ran short on cash, I had to shut it down.
I still remember rich dad looking at my financials and telling me I’d run the company into the ground and that it was as good as dead. I had to have thick skin to hear that and listen. I could have continued running the business on life support, but it would have only delayed the inevitable.
After I shut that business down, it would have been easy to give up on my entrepreneurial dreams. Instead, I jumped right into building my next business. There were a lot of people who told me to get a job, especially since I already had one failed business under my belt. I didn’t listen, and today Rich Dad is a thriving company that makes me millions of dollars. That took thick skin too.
The point: if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need thick skin to both look at hard truths and to keep moving forward.
#2 Build a great network
Rich dad always said, “Business and investing are team sports.” And there’s an age-old truism that says, “No person is an island unto themselves.”
Successful entrepreneurs know how to hustle. They’re always up for networking and building relationships with people who may be able to help them and their company. This means you don’t get to live a comfortable 9-to-5 schedule. You might need to make that early morning or late night phone call to connect with someone internationally. Or you might have to spend the weekend at a convention or conference.
You’ll also need to do the hard work of building your support network. I have accountants, attorneys, and advisors of all kinds on my team. They help me be successful, and they are the best in the biz. This is because I spent a lot of time and effort to research, network, and hire the best.
The good news is that building a great network is a lot of fun, and one of the easiest things you can do. All you have to do is start, and you can do it today.
#3 Look to praise, not be praised
If you need constant affirmation, you’d be better off being an employee rather than an entrepreneur. Most employees get constant feedback in the form of reviews and 1-on-1s. Most entrepreneurs get no feedback, or if they do, it’s often negative because they’ve done something wrong—either in the form of market responses or employee revolts!
As an entrepreneur, you have to be supremely self-confident and also very self-aware. The best business owners I know are sure of their decisions (after consulting with their great networks and teams) but also spend a lot of time looking inward to self-correct where needed.
This is important because a big part of being an entrepreneur is leading others. This means that you have to be genuinely passionate about giving praise to your employees and partners, rather than looking for praise to come to you. One of the great joys of entrepreneurship is being able to give others a livelihood, watching them thrive, and giving them praise.
#4 Be self-motivated
I have a friend who has completed several ultra-marathons, taught himself Tae Kwon Do and competed in the Olympics, and written a number of books. He’s one of the most self-motivated people I know. So, it’s no surprise he also started a successful business.
Employees show up to work every day because if they don’t, they’ll be fired. When you start as an entrepreneur, no one is making you go to work. You have to do that all by yourself. It’s hard work getting a company up and running. If you don’t have the ability to get yourself going every single day, you’ll fail.
Additionally, once your company is up and running, it can be easy to sit back and let it go on autopilot. But as they say, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” You use a large amount of energy to get a business started, but it doesn’t stop there. You have to be self-motivated to keep it growing and adjusting as the market changes, which leads me to my last essential entrepreneurial trait.
#5 Be flexible
A lot of self-employed people like to think of themselves as entrepreneurs, but generally they are not. There is a big difference between a self-employed person who likes to really wear one hat—like a writer or a lawyer—and an entrepreneur who has to wear multiple hats to build a business.
In a given day, you might put on your lawyer hat to negotiate a contract, put on your accountant hat to balance your books and do cash flow projections, put on your manager hat to have a hard conversation with an employee, put on your marketing hat to make adjustments to your website, and put on your sales hat to close a deal. You have to be good at all of these things, and you have to be motivated to do them all well. This requires a lot of flexibility.
The best entrepreneurs I know are able to move from role to role as needed day in and day out.