There’s no easy way of saving this, but the fact of the matter is that startups have been romanticized to death.
We all like to think that Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg all started in their garages with nothing but a few hundred dollars. After all, they dropped out of university to pursue their passions and made it big.
So why can’t you?
Well, the reality, in fact, is much more complicated than that. While Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out from Harvard to pursue his passion, he only did so because Facebook was quickly growing at a rapid rate.
Additionally, all three of these “startup icons” came from incredibly wealthy backgrounds and were all pursuing graduate programs in Ivy League universities. They only dropped out to better focus on their businesses.
But hold up!
This doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship isn’t for mere mortals like us, far from it. The fact is anyone can be a successful entrepreneur. All you need is the right combination of passion and perseverance.
So, with that, let’s look at the 4 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and business owners.
1. They know why they got started
Passion is a great catalyst to start the fire of entrepreneurship within you. But it isn’t exactly the best fuel to keep the fire burning.
Disappointments, setbacks, and various failures will inevitably take a toll. Whether it’s rejections from customers, little to no progress, or simply burnout, over time, you’ll find that you weren’t as passionate as you used to be.
The most successful entrepreneurs have always emphasized the importance of keeping your head up and never giving up. The funny thing is; there is a difference between talking about never giving up and actually not giving.
At the end of the day, when you’re tired and beaten down, you need to remember why you started in the first place. For some, it’s the desire to strike out on their own, and for others, it’s all about making money.
Whichever your preference, always keep in mind that you need to have an overriding reason that keeps you going every day – during the good days and the bad. That reason will be the fuel that powers you on even on the worst of days.
2. They look and think beyond the box
If you haven’t already noticed, the most successful business owners worldwide see the world through an entirely different lens. While hard work does indeed play a major role in their success, the ability to think and look beyond the conventional is what sets them apart from garden variety entrepreneurs.
When bringing your ideas to market, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
Is this idea new?
Does your idea change up the way something is done?
If you answered yes to both of these questions, it’s highly like that your idea has the potential to disrupt the marketplace.
The ride-sharing boom is the perfect example of how an entirely new and innovative idea can literally change the world. When Uber first emerged, the world was stunned by the very idea of ridesharing and how anyone can get a ride from anywhere with just a few taps on an app.
Copying or imitating an existing idea will likely not get you very far. However, innovation and disruption can give you a much-needed edge in an already hyper-competitive market.
3. Successful entrepreneurs keep moving forward
Stagnation is the entrepreneur’s worst enemy.
So you’ve finally got everything off the ground, and your business has started to turn a profit. You may even be doing well enough to hire a few employees.
Now that everything’s been stabilized, you may even be tempted to take it easy and coast along on your achievements. This, in fact, is the most dangerous phase for most new businesses because when comfort sets in, you’ll find yourself becoming reluctant to move forwards.
Today’s innovators are tomorrow’s dinosaurs in today’s fast-paced world, and thanks to advances in technology, even the smallest startups can strike gold overnight.
We can take sports as an example, specifically basketball. One of the most important parts of NBA games is to have a power forward that can catch rebounds: to catch the ball loose after a failed attempt and either regain possession or go for another try.
And who is the best NBA power forward of all time? Tim Duncan. Opposite to other more well-known names of the sport, like Jordan or LeBron, Duncan cemented his legacy not by scoring lots of free throws and slam dunking, but due to being a crucial rebounder. Thus, he played an essential part in the 5 titles won for San Antonio Spurs.
Taking this example into entrepreneurship and business is important. Startups often fail to score long throws and not target the low hanging fruits: those rebounds. Sense of opportunity is crucial for any entrepreneur in any business to jump into the right bandwagon at the right moment, making the right investments, and not being afraid to take that risk.
This is why entrepreneurs need to keep pushing forwards. Whether it’s refining your product or winning over new customers, it is fundamental that you keep the momentum going.
All of this ensures that your business does not get left behind and outclassed by competitors. History is littered with the remnants of companies who failed to innovate and get with the times. Consequently, most if not all were left in the dust and overtaken by their faster-moving counter-parts.
The only thing constant in this ever-changing world is the need for innovation and fresh ideas. Resting on your laurels and getting too comfortable is a recipe for disaster.
4. Marketing is an essential part of their portfolio
Named the world’s most innovative company by the Boston Consulting Group, Apple is a company that engenders extreme reactions from both ends of the spectrum.
From the Macintosh to the iPod and iPhone, Apple has managed to stay relevant throughout the years. Besides its range of products, Apple is also renowned for its ability to position its offerings as absolute must-haves successfully.
In many parts of the world, Apple products are regarded as a status symbol amongst consumers. While part of this can be attributed to their hefty price tag, credit has to be given to the late Steve Jobs.
Due to his vision, Apple was able to achieve the level of success that the company currently enjoys. While we’re not exactly Apple fanatics, there is no arguing that Apple products offer a combination of simplicity and style in a single compact product.
This drives customers to continually support the company despite some setbacks that may have marred the company’s image. Now that’s loyalty.
The road to successful entrepreneurship is a long and winding one. While working hard may be an essential part of that, it’s not the only thing that’s important.
Having a vision, staying hungry for success and strong market positioning are essential if you want to make it as an entrepreneur.