Here’s the truth.
While all of us are born with innate gifts and usually spend our lives discovering how to use them, not every single person on the planet is meant to leverage those unique qualities and talents to launch and run their own business.
And that makes total sense, right?
There are people who are naturally inclined to lead, create, and build something from the ground up, while there are others who feel drawn to supporting the growth of another organization and really enjoy it.
That’s a beautiful thing. Because every entrepreneur eventually builds a team, and that would be near impossible if every other person had their own business aspirations.
I don’t know about you, but these days it feels like everyone and their mother is striving for the “entrepreneur lifestyle,” even if deep down they don’t really know if it’s for them. And I get it.
It looks glamorous.
It allows you to be your own boss.
It gives you the freedom to #workfromwherever.
And it’s just seen as cool.
But what seems ideal on the outside requires a ton of commitment and discipline and innovation on the inside. That’s why there’s only a 10% success rate for startups, with 90% failing within the first year.
If you’re like me, you might wonder what it really takes to make be part of that 10%. And what I’ve discovered through my own experience and the insights from fellow entrepreneurs is that there are certain character traits that make for a successful business owner.
- Comfortable with uncertainty. This is #1 for a reason. Being an entrepreneur is incredibly uncertain, especially in the first year. Not only do you have no idea what you’re doing, but you also don’t always know how you’re going to make money month-to-month. Getting cozy with this kind of uncertainty and not allowing fear or anxiety overpower your mindset, is key to finding solutions, clients, and income in unexpected places.
- Scrappy. Running a business is messy and requires you to make lemons out of lemonade more often than you’d think. Things fall apart at the last minute. Projects take a nosedive. People don’t always follow through. In some cases that means you have to course correct fast and find a solution. Maybe you exchange your services for the expertise or support you need for things like web design, photos, copy, or something else. It might mean you leverage different relationships to help you bring an idea to life. Whatever the case may be, you’ve got to have that scrappy nature where you take what you can get and handle the rest.
- Risk inclined. Risk isn’t just the act of leaping from a steady paycheck into starting a business. It’s the act of running your business with total integrity and never compromising your values, ever. You may need to turn potential clients away and risk a lower income one month. You may invest thousands in the launch of a program, course, or website and not get the desired results you were hoping for. Or you may hire your first employee to share the workload before you feel ready. Whatever the situation, there is an underlying willingness to make thoughtful risks so that your business can expand and grow.
- Resilient. Entrepreneurs fail every single day. Clients don’t sign on the dotted line. Someone sends a critical email or wants to shift directions completely. A competitor might have beaten you to the punch with an idea or program launch. And there are some days where you just don’t want to get out of bed because the stress is so overwhelming. So many things will happen as you build your business that will make you want to quit, but if you have the power to brush things off, to stay positive, and to remind yourself why this work matters, you will survive and be better for it.
- Self-motivated. Being your own boss requires serious motivation and discipline. Entrepreneurs who succeed are not only good at what they do, but they challenge themselves with new opportunities, courses, and relationships that take their skillset or reach higher. That wouldn’t be possible if there wasn’t a drive inside to go the extra mile and do more, to always reach for the next level. Because there will always be a part of you that resists, that comes up with excuses, that just wants to procrastinate or give up. The part of you that is hungry for success and make a difference is the part that has to win over and over again.
- Highly productive. This one piggybacks perfectly off the one prior. Productivity is an art and it requires an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. You have to know what time of day your mind is most clear so that you can speed through your work then. You have to know which habits get in the way or pull your attention off course. And you have to create a structure that is going to empower you to cross tasks off your list in the most efficient way possible. There are tools I use and highly recommend here.
- Willing to experiment. As I’ve mentioned, there are so many unknowns when you’re building a business, so it’s essential to experiment with everything: website copy, sales conversations, social media posts, client sessions, opt-in offers, courses, blog posts, email subject lines, etc. It’s a constant iterative process that allows you to not only better understand what works, but also what your target audience responds to most.
- Intuitive. An entrepreneur is nothing without a strong connection to her gut instincts. Whether it’s during client consultations, business meetings, or program launches, being tapped into how your body responds to varying moments is key to making smart decisions for your business. If something doesn’t feel right, trust it. If something isn’t coming together easily, let it go. If you feel called to talk to a random person at an event, start the conversation. Your gut doesn’t lie and it will never steer you astray. So learn to trust it more than anything.
- Innately skilled. Every successful entrepreneur has real deal talent that can’t be faked. It’s something that is just part of who they are, intertwined into their cellular makeup. They are deeply creative, they have a knack for strategy or relationship building or coming up with the perfect tagline. They have a skill that is always relevant and always marketable. And they know how to use it.
- Connected. Relationships in business are everything and they are essential to the growth and expansion of your work. Aligning yourself with people you trust, who have integrity, and who share your commitment to being your best self are the ones you want in your corner. They will share your work. They will love you up. And they will remind you of your value in the moments where you forget. Your network of friends and colleagues should extend into the industry you specialize in and should be an avenue for client referrals too. Nurture your most important relationships and seek out the ones you want more of. Because what you seek is seeking you.
- Honest. I don’t believe it’s possible to embody true success unless you are a good person who is honest and always aligned with integrity. It’s that realness and willingness to speak the truth and express yourself authentically that will attract the right clients, the right opportunities, and more. It’s what will keep you connected to your own vision vs. comparing your progress to someone else’s. And it’s what everyone will know to be true about you because they experienced it first hand. Holding yourself to high standards is essential and will take you far, no matter how challenging it may feel at times. Always do the right thing, especially when no one is watching.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Which qualities do you have out of the 11 here? Are there any you’d like to add to the list? Please share in the comments below.