Are you trying to jumpstart your career as an entrepreneur? Curious about what other entrepreneurs believe are the most important traits for starting a business? The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) of New Jersey conducted an informal survey of their 90 members to discover common traits entrepreneurs tend to have.
In the EO survey, more than 96 percent of responders said that being driven is a personality trait entrepreneurs usually have. Risk-taking and tenacity followed closely with 82 percent and 74 percent, respectively. The other popularly selected traits included lifelong learners, forward thinking, acting with a sense of urgency and focused.
Kurt Olender, managing partner at OlenderFeldman LLP, believes an entrepreneur must be flexible and adept at problem solving.
“They will be faced with challenges that might not have immediate obvious answers, but through creativity, knowledge of their limitations, and surrounding themselves with people who can assist them in problem resolution, most obstacles can be overcome,” he said.
Many other entrepreneurs agreed with Olender and stressed the importance of quick and smart decision-making skills. Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, LLC, believes successful entrepreneurs need the ability to “operate and make decisions with incomplete information.” Similarly, David Rear, president of Advanced Clinical Concepts, said entrepreneurs need to be open to new ideas and flexible “to change direction when needed.” Rear believes flexibility is closely associated with tenacity and said entrepreneurs need to be able to keep going and not give up while continually trying new ways of doing things.
Other traits continually valued were optimism and passion. JB Blanchard, chief strategic executioner of RoofDeck Solutions Inc., said optimism is the most important trait for an entrepreneur to have.
“In my experience, it’s very difficult to succeed without believing in success,” Blanchard said. “The corollary is how easy it is to fail if I concentrate on all the bad things that might happen.”
Denise Blasevick, CEO of The S3 Agency, agrees that optimism is a necessary component of success, along with vision. She stressed that passion drives the vision.
“Vision corrals that passion,” she said. “And so the entrepreneurial success cycle goes.”
So what does it really take? Drive? Tenacity? Good decision-making skills? Optimism? Passion? Perhaps it’s an amalgam of the traits depending on the person, business and situation. Not all entrepreneurs have all – or even any – of the traits considered common for entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs vary in traits tremendously,” said Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan and CEO of Provendus Group. “True entrepreneurs build systems so other people or things can deliver their offering.”
Success takes more than just the right personality. For example, Sophie Shor, vice president of Roman Jewelers, pointed out that you must love the type of business you are in. She loves jewelry and people so being in a retail jewelry business is perfect and she enjoys every minute she is in the stores.
“My entrepreneurial peers seem to be very bright and inquisitive, but not the ‘A’ students and Dean’s List crowd,” Blanchard said. “Generally, we were marginal students with high aptitudes and short attention spans.”
Utilize the positive aspects of your personality and apply them to your entrepreneurial aspirations. Take advice and learn for yourself. In the words of Kurt Olender: “Above all, an entrepreneur must understand that success is achieved in increments through hard work, and that overnight success is the outlier and not the norm.” Have patience with the startup process and keep working hard.
EO is a dynamic global network of more than 9,500 business owners in 40 countries. EO enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. To join EO, an entrepreneur must be a founder, co-founder, owner or controlling shareholder of a company with gross annual sales exceeding $1 million. EO New Jersey has approximately 90 members and their companies have more than $500 million in total sales and employ more than 2,100 individuals.
Alex Zaltsman is CEO of InnoviMobile.com, a mobile application development company based in Piscataway, N.J., and president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of New Jersey.