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7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs (That You Can Learn)

  • April 17, 2018
  • Written by Community Futures Manitoba

You want to own a company but you’ve told yourself that you don’t have what it takes to start a small business in rural Manitoba. Sound familiar? Wait, don’t talk yourself out of what could potentially be the perfect path for you. Read on to discover seven characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that you can learn. If you possess any of these traits or have an interest in developing them, entrepreneurship might be in your future and you should contact Community Futures to discuss your small business options!

  1. Grit

Grit is the ability to persevere through tough times and is among the most important qualities in an entrepreneur. Much like life in general, there will be challenges along the road to building a small business. Acknowledging these setbacks and then pushing through them, or even just staying committed during times of minimal progress, is essential to small business success.

Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint! Entrepreneurs must be able to keep their eye on the finish line and push through little bumps along the way. Consider someone like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was unemployed, struggling with depression, and singlehandedly caring for a young daughter when writing the first novel of her now wildly famous series. On top of that, her draft was rejected 12 times before being accepted and published.

Having the grit to push through adversity ultimately made her into the successful entrepreneur she is today. Her advice? “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” If you’ve been dreaming of starting a small business, consider taking J.K. Rowling’s advice and going after your dream!

  1. Innovation

What sets entrepreneurs apart in the world is their keen ability to recognize fresh and novel opportunities that others might miss. Savvy small business owners often see possibilities (and potentially profits!) even in the mundane and then they take swift and aligned action to leverage them.  

For instance, let’s say that you identify a need within your community—a lack of childcare options for parents who have memberships at the small gym you go to in your town. You know that many of these people would like to exercise more, but simply don’t have access to a babysitter for an hour here and there.

Rather than standing by as your gym buddies disappear after having kids, you seize the opportunity to reach out to the fitness center with the offer to open a childcare centre next door, supporting busy parents in their quest to be healthy while also helping the gym to attract more customers.  

Do you routinely solve problems like this in clever ways, or do you have ideas for addressing needs in your community? Then it’s pretty likely that you already have that innovative spark that can take you far as an entrepreneur!

  1. Placing a high value on their time

Successful small business owners understand that time is their most valuable asset; they can always makjasoe more money but they can never get back lost time. That’s why so many entrepreneurs guard their schedules carefully and prioritize the most impactful to-dos on their list, outsourcing less important items (or tasks that don’t fall within their strengths) to others.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink, reports that he spends 80% of his time on engineering and design for his companies, mostly skipping phone calls and only checking email as needed. Focusing on his strengths and leaving the administrative stuff to others has enabled him to build three successful companies—a strategy that you can imitate.

Tip: Poor time management is one common cause of small business stall. Here are 9 others.

  1. Mindfulness

It’s sometimes difficult to remain present and calm in life, or when managing a small business. Negative emotions can get the best of us, especially during busy times, and leave us feeling drained or stressed. That’s why many successful entrepreneurs deliberately practice mindfulness, the awareness of their present state of mind and emotions. Often this takes the form of meditation, which can decrease stress, increase wellness, and help with effective decision-making.

Jerry Seinfeld, whose net worth exceeds $800 million, swears by daily meditation in order to remain productive. Joe Rogan, UFC host and host of the Joe Rogan Show, also uses meditation to manage his stress and stay mindful.

Whether or not meditation is for you, any sort of mindfulness practice—such as taking a few deep breaths and bringing yourself back to the present when you’re stressed out—can make you a more balanced, successful person… especially when starting a small business!

Tip: Psst! Here’s the secret to managing stress and making every day great.

  1. Altruism

Do you love helping others? Then becoming a small business owner could be the right path for you. Some of the most fruitful entrepreneurs started their organizations to improve the lives of those around them. Take Caroline and James Hewson, two Community Futures clients and owners of Hewson’s Enterprises.

After realizing that their area didn’t have an auto repair shop, they set out to provide their neighbors with a repair facility that addressed all things mechanical. Their desire to give back to the community has led to a thriving company (now with two locations!) as well as a better served area with happier neighbors.

  1. Optimism

In his timeless personal development and business book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill says, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” All of the greatest companies, big and small, were once just audacious dreams in the imaginations of the founders.

Entrepreneurship is not a path for the faint of heart. However, if you are able to cultivate and maintain a consistently positive mindset, you will be better prepared to move through the setbacks and struggles you’re sure to encounter on your road to success. The ability to notice the silver lining in tough situations and craft creative solutions will take you a long way!

Tip: Use these eight tips to leave a lasting positive impression upon everyone you meet (including potential customers if you decide to start a small business)!

  1. Leadership

Though not all small business owners start out as strong leaders, they typically develop leadership skills as time goes on. There’s something about owning a company, building it from scratch, and handling day-to-day responsibilities that builds confidence and hones communication skills.

Chris Guillebeau, blogger, speaker, and author of several New York Times bestsellers, is a known introvert. In fact, he used to dread public speaking (he admits to cold sweats and major stress before events in the past). Today, though, he frequently gives TED talks and speeches all around the world, thanks to a dedicated focus on developing his communication skills over the years.

If you’re lucky enough to already be a natural leader and strong communicator, consider channeling your talents into being a shining star for your community. If you’d like to develop more leadership skills like Chris Guillebeau did, speak to Community Futures about possibly starting a small business of your own!

And don’t forget to download our free e-book, “17 Life-Changing Reasons to Start a Small Business in Rural Manitoba,” to discover why entrepreneurs in your area made the leap!

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