Is 'quirky' part of the job description for entrepreneurs?
Have you ever heard those stories about successful entrepreneurs with all sorts of quirky habits that should explain why they have become the huge successes they are? Like wearing the same clothes every single day. Or breaking their days down into five-minute intervals. Or reading 50 books a year.
And have you ever thought that if that's what it takes to become an entrepreneur, you're probably better suited for a day job? No need to give up just yet. While quirky habits make good stories and probably work for Zuckerberg, Musk and Gates, you can be a great entrepreneur and still change up your wardrobe every once in a while.
So do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?
The fact that you have thought to yourself, "I want to be an entrepreneur," is already a pretty clear sign. And there's not just one right recipe for what makes a good entrepreneur.
There are some skills, though, that will give you an advantage in the startup game. A good first step to take is to touch base with those skills.
Wondering what other steps you need to take? Check out this course: How to start a startup from scratch - 32 steps from idea to growth
In this course, we'll walk you through the most important entrepreneurial skills and show you how to become a successful entrepreneur. And if they're not part of your DNA already, we will teach you how to work them up.
When you’re done reading, you’ll know
The five skills all entrepreneurs need to succeed
What to do if you don’t have those skills yet
Let's dive right in...
Skill #1: You know how to act
Your ability to act on your idea will ultimately determine your success as an entrepreneur. Poorly executed ideas are worth practically nothing. Ideas that aren’t executed at all, well.. You do the math. Successful entrepreneurs act, even when they don’t quite know what to do.
Not a master of executing your ideas? Here are a few tips that’ll help you:
Having a partner is probably one of the best pieces of advice we can give you, especially if you sometimes struggle to get stuff done. Try to find a business partner who complements your skillset and personality - and someone you get along with, of course. That way, you can help each other push through, even when you’d rather stay home on those dark, cold Monday mornings.
Write a solid business plan
Your business plan is not just a piece of paper to show to investors. A great business plan will help you outline all the details about your business and be a treasure map for you to look at when setting goals and to determine where to go next.
You might want to read: How to write a startup business plan
Prioritize your work and plan your days
If you’re not a planner by nature, this probably sounds just about as fun as matching a laundry basket full of socks. But stick with us. Because as an entrepreneur, you need an overview. Otherwise, you’ll end up constantly forgetting important stuff.
And while it may take you some time and some sighs of frustration, once you get into the habit, we promise it’ll be fine. No matter how you feel about it, being able to plan and prioritize is by far one of the most crucial skills to have as an entrepreneur.
Skill #2: You’re not afraid to fail, and you get back up - every time
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10.000 ways that won’t work” - Thomas Edison
For a true entrepreneur, failure is never definitive. At the moment it happens, failure hurts. Sometimes more than others. But for the people who end up succeeding, failure is lessons learned and will ultimately pave the way for success.
Not completely in love with the concept of failure? Here are a couple of ways you can work on getting comfortable with mistakes:
Accept that failure is inevitable
Everyone makes mistakes. Most people fail more times than they succeed. But if you quit the first time you fail, you won’t ever get the chance to succeed.
Accepting that you will make mistakes can help you get comfortable with the fear of failing. Failure isn’t dangerous. More likely, it will show you what steps to take next.
Know how to get back up
You will make mistakes. Probably lots of them. Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that mistakes and failure can help you go where you need to go - if you let them.
That’s not to say that it won’t suck. It will. And that’s exactly why you should know how to best get back up. This tends to be different from person to person. Sometimes the best thing is to push through and get back to work, while at other times, you may need to take a day off and go do something nice for yourself.
Skill #3: You care about the problem
Let’s be real. While you may sometimes dream of finding that million-dollar idea, even the best idea is worth nothing if you don't put in the work. You won’t reach the startup stars right away. In fact, most startups fail. And the most direct way to failure is working on an idea you don’t really care about. If you genuinely care about the problem you’re trying to solve, you will do what it takes to make it happen.
So.. Do you care? If not, jump back into that brain of yours and try to make a new idea pop. Here are some things you can do to find ideas you care about.
To find ideas, you need to expose yourself to new things and perspectives. Curiosity is one of the best ways to get ideas flowing. Follow the news, read books, talk to people, and don’t be afraid to throw yourself into discussions that challenge your own viewpoints. Do it often and a whole new world of thoughts, ideas and possibilities might just arise.
Find out what pisses you off
Sorry about the language.
But if something in your life annoys you enough, you’ll do what it takes to make it go away. And if something makes you tick, chances are it does the same to someone else. Problems that adds pain to people's lives are problems worth solving. Think of a solution to one of those, and you’re good to go.
Skill #4: You’re motivated - and keep going when you’re not
Most days, successful entrepreneurs wake up with an itching feeling of excitement in their bodies, ready to get to work. They are motivated and great at staying motivated, even when things are tough.
Like everyone else, sometimes they lose motivation. But what distinguishes them from others is that they know how to get back up. In other words, an entrepreneur is one who does what it takes to keep moving.
Do you sometimes struggle to stay motivated? Here are some tips for you:
Remember why you started
If you’re really passionate about your idea, you probably won’t have to struggle too much with your motivation. At least not at first. Hopefully, the sheer passion will be enough to keep you motivated most of the time. But sometimes, motivation will fail you. And in those times, it’s important to remember why you started.
When you feel like you’re about to be buried in crap and want to throw everything you’ve built off a cliff, you need to remind yourself why you jumped into this mad adventure in the first place. So do yourself a favor and write it down. Not on a sucky post-it. No, no, no. Put it on a big ass sheet of paper and put that paper in a place where you can’t avoid looking at it.
Action builds motivation
If you’re having one of those days where your backbone feels about as strong as overcooked spaghetti, pushing through might be the best way to regain motivation.
You can’t stay motivated all the time, but you can choose to keep going anyway. A lot of the time, you’ll find that motivation comes back to you if you just do something.
Skill #5: You’re okay with uncertainty and willing to take risks
The startup path is uncertain. No matter how good a psychic you think you are, you can never predict what awaits in the future. Most of the time, you probably won’t even be able to predict what happens tomorrow. And you need to be okay with that. Unless you want your business to stay a side hustle forever, risks and uncertainty are inevitable.
Is taking risks not really on your list of favorites? We get it. And while there’s really no way around it, there are ways to handle it:
Prepare for challenges and be ready to pivot
There will be challenges. It’s one of the fundamentals of all the startup craziness. So you might as well prepare to face them. Whenever they come, whatever they are.
How will you act when something’s difficult? Are you ready to pivot your startup when you need to? How will you go about that? Have a chat with yourself (or your team) even before it happens. Having thought about it in advance will help you handle the challenges ahead.
Know the unknowns
A risk is a risk because it has unknown factors that are hard or impossible for you to predict. But some of the unknowns can probably be brought to life. That will help you minimize the risk and then calculate if you think it’s worth taking.
Oh, and a side note.
If you think great entrepreneurs are people who jump at risky stuff every chance they get just for the heck of it, you’re wrong. Great entrepreneurs are great at exactly what we just told you. Minimizing risk and calculating if what’s left of it is worth taking.
So.. Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? We bet you do.
Now get back to work!
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