I’ve long been fascinated by the common traits of successful entrepreneurs. What makes them "go for it" when so many others hold back? Looking at typical attributes among this group can give us a sense of what keeps them successful and resilient. The characteristics below by no means exclude other traits, but tell you what many top entrepreneurs have in common:
• Raw Talent—As an entrepreneur, you need to know where you have raw talent and intelligence that exceeds that of others. Is it in your financial acumen? Is it your ingenious product? Is it based on the fact that you can present or sell your socks off? Being aware of your smarts and levering them will undoubtedly serve you and your business.
• Competitive Advantage—What about your offering or product fills an unmet need? What about your product attracts customers in ways that other firms’ offerings have faltered? Once you know the answers to these questions and can ensure that you have a unique or needed offering, you can best position it.
• Optimism—Most important, entrepreneurs tend to have a confident, optimistic attitude. If not, how else would they take the financial and other gambles that they do? One of the women I interviewed for my book, Mei Xu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Chesapeake Bay Candle, Blissliving Home addressed this topic. Said Mei, "Entrepreneurs are a special species. . . . Entrepreneurs have an overly optimistic attitude, which you really need in order to thrive. Our optimism is not about blind faith; it is about overcoming obstacles."
• Tolerance for Risk—A critical characteristic of an entrepreneur, having a tolerance for and even embracing risk is important. There are no guarantees in entrepreneurship, so a business owner must assume risks almost every day.
• Passion—A requirement of entrepreneurship, having enthusiasm and interest in your business is necessary. Having real passion for your service, product, or business offering helps give you drive and longevity.
• Leadership—Clearly, entrepreneurship requires leadership abilities since YOU are the one in charge. To thrive as an entrepreneur, you must be able to guide, inspire, influence, and direct others. These people may be employees, partners, customers, or other stakeholders.
If you decide to embark on forming your own company, consider whose support you can enlist. While not for everyone, entrepreneurship certainly represents an opportunity for a woman to lead on her own terms.