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As you might notice, in the recent couple of years entrepreneurship experienced almost rocket-like rise. Wherever you look, there is someone mentioning it, new book about it released or another podcast about it. Entrepreneurship is a trend and buzzword of this generation. One consequence of this hype is that some people are more and more confused. You can debate whether entrepreneurship be learned, but there are certainly some traits that will become handy. Let’s have a look at them!
Entrepreneurship meets Webster
Books, movies, startups, podcasts and all that jazz looks interesting, but where does entrepreneurship come from and what does it mean? To answer those two questions, I will reach out to a good friend. It’s not Google, at least for this moment, but Merriam-Webster dictionary. This website is an amazing source of information and definitions on almost every topic. By the way, the company behind this dictionary is called An Encyclopædia Britannica Company. Does that sound familiar to you?
Anyway, back to entrepreneurship. Since the dictionary does not offer any information about this word, you can search for entrepreneur instead and get almost the same result. An entrepreneur is, by definition, a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money. Therefore, you can define entrepreneurship as an activity focused on starting a business(es) and willingness to risk loss in order to make money.
Entrepreneurship and learning
If you want to get an MBA or a degree from economics or management feel free to give it a shot and go to University. However, keep in mind that it will come with a cost that can send into a debt and worsen your situation for a long time. You don’t need to follow my advice, but I am talking from my own experience. Two years ago, I took a bank loan to pay scholarship on Business School. I studied economics and business for two years. Then, I decided to drop out. However, this was not my first.
Before studying business, I studied computer science on University for a year. So, following advice come from double dropout. If you are not going to apply for a job, forget about school. It will only cost you money and a lot of time. What’s more, all the knowledge you can get in school is available either on the Internet or in books. Want to learn about management or programming? Open the browser or take a trip to some bookstore.
School, books, online courses or entrepreneurship … Like it or not, entrepreneurship is the best way to learn skills of business, team management and leadership you can find. Ask anyone you want, but nothing is so effective as learning by doing. In entrepreneurship, if you want to survive, you have no choice but to learn constantly and adapt to new situations. What’s more, everything you learn will be tested right in the field. Only by this hardcore testing on the field you can find out what skills and knowledge you are lacking.
Skills you need to succeed
You probably heard about the ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often mentioned in the context of entrepreneurship. In reality, the truth is that successful entrepreneurs are often masters at focusing on one thing for a long time. Otherwise, they would not be able to keep their businesses going and profitable. If you want to create a successful business, developing laser-like focus is both, a necessity and also the result.
How do you feel when you face rejection? Many people fear rejection almost like a death. I was on the same boat, as well. Through the last year of entrepreneurship, however, I fell in love with it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t seek it for pleasure or anything like that. Instead, every time I face rejection I see it as an opportunity to learn, grow and get better. Yesterday, for example, template for an e-commerce type of websites I have been working on for almost two weeks in a row was rejected by Themeforest.
First, I felt like a crap. Something that took about fourteen days to create was swept from the table in one day. Subsequently, I looked at it as an opportunity to raise the standards of my work, to work on my skills and get better in my craft so this will not happen again. You can attribute this to my competitiveness, the urge to win and get what I want, but what matters is how you handle the rejection. Will it crush you or motivate you to raise the bar?
Grit and resilience
Another two traits necessary to handle the everyday life in a business and get over challenges are grit and resilience. Grit and resilience can be perceived as two words for the same thing, but I prefer to view them as two separate traits. Grit can be defined as a mental toughness and courage to face challenges and danger. In other words, when challenge or obstacle appear will you step back or move forward?
Resilience is, as dictionary says, your ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. In other words, when shit hits the fan and all your plans fail, how fast can you get back on a track with new plan? Some people will be crushed and give up after they experience their first failure. Other individuals, will not only get back and try it again. They will return stronger, better and even more determined to succeed. These people will use every failure as a chance to improve themselves and challenge to conquer.
Self-evaluation and analysis
One of the Delphic maxims, in total there are 147 of them, left by Ancient Greeks is “Know thyself.” When you decide to test the waters of entrepreneurship, knowing yourself will be the most important asset you can have. It does not matter how great your product is or if you are following the lean startup methodology. Unless you know yourself, you are basically playing Russian roulette.
In business, there is often a lot of emphasis put on analyzing your competition and market you want to enter without spending a minute on analyzing yourself and / or your company. In reality, however, you don’t need to worry about neither of those things. Not knowing yourself or your company is a mistake that will kill sink your business much faster. As Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Another reason why you should put some time into self-analysis is to understand what you are good, what you suck at and how you can motivate yourself. In entrepreneurship, the last thing is the most important. When you are motivated enough, you can learn anything and fix your weaker points. Without motivation, no matter how good or talented you are, you will not be able to stay in the game for a long time. So, remember, analyze yourself in order to know your strengths, weaknesses and what motivates and scare you.
Entrepreneurship, and business in general, is not a one mans land (or show). If you want to succeed in anything you must be able to not just work with other people, but also to lead them. Every successful entrepreneur is a leader who shows the direction to people behind him (or her). I’m not going to debate whether leadership is a trait or skill to be learned. Sure, some people are born with instinct to lead and provide the direction. However, that should not be an excuse for the rest to settle with what you’ve got. If you are not willing to take the charge. Stop waiting, get uncomfortable and take the charge.
Self-motivation and perseverance
The last two traits I want to talk about with you are self-motivation and perseverance. In its simplest form, self-motivation is the force inside you that drives you to do things you want to get done. I would say it is a key life skill and something that everybody interested in entrepreneurship should know and think about. People who are self-motivated, not just entrepreneurs, can find a reason and push themselves to achieve their goals no matter what their mood, current situation or weather is or how many people are against them.
“Even if the odds to succeed are just one percent you should try it.” AD
Entrepreneurship is full of moments when you will want to give up everything. In some cases, it is better to re-assess and adjust your goals, i.e. to pivot. Other times, however, the only thing you need is to find something that will spark that fire inside you again and give you the energy to move forward. This is what perseverance is all about–to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. Remember my words … Even if the odds to succeed are just one percent you should try it.
Closing thoughts on entrepreneurship and the traits you need
There are many traits that can help you make-it or break-it in entrepreneurship. Different people will come up with different lists of them and suggestions. The traits you read about in this post are what I think are, or at least should be, included among the essential ones. Whether you can acquire those traits in school is left for you to decide. I think you can, but life will always win over school as a teacher.
What are some other traits you recommend every entrepreneur to have or develop?
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