According to those in the know it is a common fact that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small business fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. Many argue that this is much higher!

Another interesting statistic is that most of those deciding to take the entrepreneurial plunge are between 50-59 years old (35%) a possible indication of experience and know-how, or just an awakening to the fact that there is more to life than working for a boss?

While anything can hold true at the moment and even statistics can turn on its head in the crazy time we are living in today, the COVID-I9 era are going to ask us to be resourceful. We need new ways of working and we need more entrepreneurs.

So what distinguishes a successful entrepreneur from an unsuccessful one and are there any concrete traits or habits that can be attributed to entrepreneurial success?

In an article published by Forbes, Allan Hall lists five characteristics as shared by Larry Levy from the Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice at the Kellogg School of Management. They are as follows:

  • Learn from your mistakes, and then never make them again.
  • Be prepared emotionally for entrepreneurship’s ups and downs.
  • Be willing to live with fear, risk and occasional failure.
  • Understand, nurture and refine your vision of the enterprise.
  • Line your business up with your passions.

The points listed above constitute good advice.  Every country has its own business milieu to consider and surely legislative and regulatory environments as well as local cultural influences and demographic distributions. These are all aspects to be considered by the budding entrepreneur.

All of this made me consider my own entrepreneurial experience.  Therefore, below find my own list of essential entrepreneurial traits, not based on academic research but compiled from my own, honest experience – as seen through the eyes of an entrepreneur to whom the opening statistics readily apply.

  1. Entrepreneurship requires hard work, dedication and focus. Office hours based on the 8am-5pm principle will become a luxury.
  2. Any venture without a clear business plan is an open invitation to disaster. Know what you are getting into, do the research, study the figures and then expect the reality to look a lot different, nonetheless
  3. Know how to pitch and present your product or service. Here I refer to potential customers and investors alike. You might even have to prepare an elevator-pitch applicable to a variety of audiences e.g. investors, customers, researchers, executive boards and communities. Again, a focused offering is essential. You cannot be everything to everybody.
  4. Do not underestimate the value of intangible assets. Identify and protect your Intellectual Property where and when appropriate
  5. Know your customer and your environment. Involve key stakeholders in collaboration opportunities where possible and applicable
  6. Garner support from key role players and strong individuals, find mentors, form strategic alliances (think global where appropriate) and consider the importance of a natural fit between your offering and that of your alliances
  7. Create teams. Capitalise on your own strengths but get expert involvement where your own talents fall short. Contracts are important. Ensure that you give this the attention it deserves. The correct leadership team will be of the utmost importance to the survival of your business
  8. Be passionate and sincere. People need to believe as much in you as in your product or service. Reputation is everything. Be ethical, be trustworthy. Always.
  9. Network far and wide. It is impossible to know everything. Surround yourself with reputable knowledgeable people and associations. There is incredible power in collaboration
  10. Use the power of the internet, social media and e-commerce. The world is a global village and these type of media tools offer immense value in terms of networking, reputation building and branding, to name but a few
  11. Learn daily. Your customers need to rely on you for expert advice. Ensure that you can provide it.
  12. Give back. Whether you transfer skills, teach children or less fortunate communities new skills or donate to charity. I still believe it is an important rule of the universe.
  13. Innovate! The world is changing constantly. Nowadays innovation is expected for survival and if you are not making innovation part of your DNA you will be out—innovated by someone else in your industry.  Identify the opportunities on your path and act on it.
  14. Persevere. There will be plenty of nay-sayers. The experts that know best, the family member that means well. You will have regular opportunities to give up. If you believe in what you do keep at it. There is a very fine line between success and failure. I am not advocating a relentless effort into something that is futile but fortune normally comes to those who are prepared. Believe in yourself.
  15. Know that you will get tired, even despondent sometimes. Possibly questioning everything you do at other times. Remember not to compare yourself with others. Take time to rest. Be you. Learn. Try again. It is all part of the process. That is how you grow and build resilience.

I am sure you can think of a couple of more points to add to the list. I found that I added to it every time I read through the numbered items! One thing is for sure, entrepreneurs need skills and backbone and they need a supportive business landscape.

Remember, if entrepreneurship was easy, the statistics reflected at the beginning of this piece would not have been so disturbing. Entrepreneurs are a special kind of breed, it is an activity definitely not recommended for the faint-hearted! If you are an entrepreneur, you have more courage than most, and your chances of success are therefore also higher than most. Go on…live your best life! Be courageous.

2 Replies to “15 Habits of successful entrepreneurs”

  1. This is a honest and very informative article from someone who knows the ups and downs of business and out of that perspective can give excellent advice and encouragement. Like you I will strive to stay positive and courageous. Thank you, Hannah May.

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