No one ever said being an entrepreneur is easy. Creating your own business and career path is tough—and succeeding in this lifestyle seems to require an elusive mix of traits.
After all, most of the entrepreneurs I know are intelligent. They are hardworking and usually at the top of their given field. However, all too often I’ve watched these smart people go from thriving in the workplace to struggling as a business owner.
Here are seven key reasons why some entrepreneurs fail to live up to their potential, while others make it big.
1. They don’t have a passion for running a business. Passion is usually not in short supply with entrepreneurs; however, this doesn’t mean that all entrepreneurs have a passion for what’s needed. Many times, people have tremendous passion for their product, service or technology—but this doesn’t necessarily translate into a passion for managing a company. Running a business doesn’t just mean developing a product; it takes sales, dealing with customers (and investors), finding partners, managing employees, vendors and more.
2. They need to please. Kindness is a wonderful trait—and one that we need more of in business today. However, a relentless need to please can be detrimental to the entrepreneur. People with this tendency often overextend themselves in the workplace and bend over backwards for others. In short, it’s hard to achieve your own goals when you’re constantly focused on trying to make everyone else in the room happy.
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to recognize the difference between being generous (i.e. wanting to help a customer or colleague) and wanting to avoid conflict and disappoint others.
3. They can’t work without a playbook. When you run your own business, you call the shots. This can be both a blessing and a curse. To thrive in this environment you’ll need to feel comfortable navigating some unchartered, and often rocky, waters. You’ll need to be confident making decisions on the fly and setting your own course without any instructions. If these aren’t your strengths right now, you’ll need to learn them fast.
4. They fear failure. If you’re scared of failing, you’re probably playing it too safe as an entrepreneur. Fear of failure is one of the strongest forces holding people back from their potential. If you fall into this category, you’ve learned that it’s easier to slide along with the status quo than to take that important first step.
But for successful entrepreneurs, failure is practically a rite of passage. In business, like in life, there are valuable lessons to be learned in each failure. And a failure in one business venture is far from the final conclusion to the overall story. If you find yourself nervous about what might happen, think about all the opportunities and possibilities you leave behind by not ever trying. Trying (no matter what the outcome) is your first step toward success.
5. They’re overloaded with busywork. With all of today’s digital chatter, it’s easier than ever to lose control of one’s schedule and goals. After all, we’re bombarded with e-mails, tweets and phone calls—each one expecting a real-time response. In this environment, one could spend an entire day doing a lot, while accomplishing very little.
Savvy entrepreneurs know how to stay focused on their priorities in the face of these distractions. They understand how to manage and lead their time, rather than simply react to issues and requests as they come in.
6. They can’t get past temporary disappointment. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s hard not to take each rejection personally. And entrepreneurs get a lot of bad news—rejection from investors or an incubator program, a lost sale or a lackluster blog review. If you spend time dwelling on the rejection or feeling bitter, you’re just wasting your time. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to learn how to take each rejection as an opportunity to learn, as well as realize that it’s not the twenty “no’s” but that one “yes” that matters.
7. They care more about the product than their customers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s critically important to be passionate about whatever product or service your company provides. However, a successful company is even more passionate about solving customer needs. To make it as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to stay focused on your customers what are they looking for, what would help them and how can you make a difference). By being too inwardly focused on your own products, you may miss out on key opportunities in the market.
Last but not least, being an entrepreneur is not easy. You’ve got to feel strongly about what you’re doing and enjoy the ride (including the ups and downs).
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