It Takes More Than Guts and an Idea to Start a Business. Learn What Attributes Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common.
You have the perfect idea for a business. You have positive feedback from potential customers. You’ve even sold some of your first-generation product in stealth mode with great customer response. You think you are ready to quit your job and get started. But, there’s just one lingering question on your mind:
Do I really have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
Maybe you come from a family of old-school company men and women. They’ve always worked for other people and had a regular paycheck with generous health insurance and plenty of vacation time. Are you going to be the one to leave that comfortable lifestyle for one where you’re on your own with minimal initial resources and little to fall back on to make sure your rent or mortgage is covered?
Before you submit that resignation letter, there are a few things you might want to consider. Starting and running a small business is no easy task. Being a successful entrepreneur requires a unique mix of skills that go far beyond being passionate enough to quit your job and take on your project full time. According to the New York Times best-selling book for entrepreneurs, Hearts, Smarts, Guts & Luck by Tony Tjan, there are four essential personality traits of a successful entrepreneur:
- Hearts: passion and purpose
- Smarts: strong analytical abilities
- Guts: comfortable making the tough calls
- Luck: positivity leading to good outcomes
Other research regarding the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs draw on the widely-used Myers-Briggs personality test, which categorizes people along four dimensions:
- Extroversion vs. Introversion (more likely to turn outward or turn inward)
- Sensing vs. Intuitiveness (preferring concrete information or abstract concepts)
- Thinking vs. Feeling (problem-solving through logical reasoning or empathizing)
- Judgment vs. Perception (favoring structure or freestyle thinking)
According to this model, as reported in Young Entrepreneur, the preferred Myers-Briggs profile type is ENTP (Extroversion-Intuition-Thinking-Perception). On the surface, this makes sense. Common sense would suggest that an entrepreneur would be extroverted enough to sell her idea, intuitive enough to dream about the possibility of a successful business, thinking enough to solve critical problems as the business develops and perceptive enough to be able to “think outside the box” in the pursuit of something new and creative.
Although both the Hearts-Smarts-Guts-Luck and Myers-Briggs frameworks hold some truth, it would be a mistake to rely too heavily on them in pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. Good business leaders are much more likely to be able to call on different elements of their personality than to rely heavily on one characteristic or another. For example, an extremely extroverted leader is great for motivating the troops and raising capital, but may be terrible for analyzing the industry and creating a business plan.
You will be facing innumerable challenges as you move forward and will undoubtedly see qualities in yourself emerge and develop that you never thought possible. What got you here today may not get you there tomorrow. Keep learning. And, go ahead and order Tjan’s book or find out your Meyers-Briggs personality type. It may help you learn something about yourself and be a fun experiment to boot!