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1. Having the right skills.

Entrepreneur Quote

Are All Entrepreneurs Alike?

While entrepreneurs have in common certain characteristics and skills, there is a wide range of individuality among them. In sports, some athletes do well because they love a sport and are trained to play it. They have developed their skills. Others are full of natural talent and require much less specialized training. Still, others simply find their own successful approach to playing a sport even though they may not have been trained. Entrepreneurs are the same way. Some receive formal training and skill development. Others have a natural flair for it. Still others break every rule or device very unusual approaches, but still, succeed. Which do you think would be your style? While there is no recipe for becoming a successful entrepreneur, certain characteristics are associated with entrepreneurial success.

Marketing innovation. As Michael Ellsberg wrote in  The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful the prerequisite to selling is listening. It’s important to understand people and their needs, build networks and relationships and create unique solutions to pitch effectively.

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The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful
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The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful
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Master at managing risk.

Most entrepreneurs are risk takers by nature. They sometimes face losing everything they invested into a startup business. When choosing this career path, you leave security as a wage earner behind as well as extra time to spend with your family, all in order to create something new.

Some people may say: Entrepreneurs aren’t risk takers as much as they are risk minimizers. One way to minimize risk is to bootstrap: Provide the resources for a startup with customer revenues. Another way is to follow the advice of Eric Ries, pioneer of the lean startup movement, a proponent of the “build-measure-learn” mantra.

Test all business model assumptions, ranging from the notion of the customer problem to the hypothesized revenue stream. Startup expert Ash Maurya wrote in  Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean (O'Reilly)) , that the job of entrepreneurs is to find a business model that works before running out of money.

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Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean (O'Reilly))
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The process of leading oneself and others.

Entrepreneurs keep going when others stop trying. Also, Entrepreneurs overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Most Entrepreneurs build tribes. They transcend the status quo, form new relationships and patterns of behavior and bring change where it’s sometimes unwanted.

Having experienced the process, entrepreneurs quickly adapt and confidently try new things. And things don’t always go as planned. Entrepreneurs, like leaders in the “fundamental state,”  a term coined by Robert Quinn in  Building the Bridge As You Walk On It: A Guide for Leading Change ” /]have the “adaptive confidence,” “detached interdependence” and “grounded vision” to figure things out.

Related: The 3 Stages Of Entrepreneurial Growth

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2. Knowing the right process.

process quotefancy

Entrepreneurship is a discipline.

Peter Drucker, sometimes called the “inventor of management,” argued that entrepreneurship is a management discipline. It’s a process that can be learned and applied.

Discipline implies a process.

Entrepreneur and educator, Steve Blank, outlined the customer development process in  The Four Steps to the Epiphany 2nd edition by Steve Blank (2013) Hardcover , which was validated and further refined by Maurya and Ries for their own startups (Spark59 and IMVU, respectively). The process begins with customer discovery or understanding problems from consumers’ perspective and testing whether the entrepreneur’s solution fits.

Then there’s customer validation or determining how, when and where customers (the market) and the entrepreneur’s solution (the product) meet and value can be exchanged. And customer creation entails discovering how to entice the next wave of customers to move en masse toward the sales channel. Then and only then should resources be spent to build a company to support the business model.

That last step is called company creation. Before I became a lean startup convert, I used to ask students to do the company creation step first. They wrote long business plans outlining the structure of their company before any of them knew or had tested if they had a business model that worked. How wrong I was. And how much student time and resources I wasted!


3. Having the right heart.

heart quote

Love of the game.

It takes much trial and error to find a business model that works. If a businessperson doesn’t love the process, he’ll lose energy not only before running out of money but also before it’s even the right time to ask for money.

Commitment.

So what determines if entrepreneurs keep going? Love, like skill, involves both nature and nurture. It entails affection, passion, and discipline. It requires both the heart and head. As is the case in a marriage, a commitment to putting others first is needed for getting through the tough times. The entrepreneur should find ways to compliment others’ skills and invite them to complement hers. Entrepreneurship is one of the ultimate team sports.

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