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Leadership

Psychological traits of an entrepreneur

You’ve left behind the security of a monthly pay cheque, put you and your family at risk of financial turmoil and must now carry the burden of your employees’ livelihoods—who in their right mind wants to be an entrepreneur? You, that’s who.

But between all your meetings, phone calls and emails, have you ever wondered about the mental attributes that led you to become an entrepreneur and continue to drive your desire to succeed as one? Did you ever have a choice? Are some people born entrepreneurs, or is it a blend of education and experience? Let’s a look at five common psychological traits of an entrepreneur.

Self-confident

This has got to be the number one characteristic of an entrepreneur. Without an unwavering belief in yourself and your abilities, there’s just no way you’d ever start a business of your own, it’s just too risky—but it’s this self-assurance that allows a good entrepreneur to take calculated risks. Every entrepreneur inherently trusts that their talent and intelligence will
overcome whatever obstacles and stress they face, and that their original thinking will drive the business to succeed. Some might call this level of self-belief arrogant, brash or even crazy, but the true entrepreneur doesn’t care; so intent on their ambitions, he or she probably doesn’t even notice the naysayers.

Coffee mug on table with the word 'Hustle' written on the mug
Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Optimistic

Positive thinking is very powerful. An entrepreneur knows this well; to stay calm and fully committed to his or her decisions requires a bright outlook and steady conviction that everything will work out fine. Entrepreneurship can be risky and scary, and any hint of negativity, whether it’s their own thoughts or the opinions of others, will be quickly shut down or ignored.

Resilient

You’ve got to have a thick skin to flourish as an entrepreneur. If you run away at the first sign of adversity or even failure, then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Not only do you have to place enormous faith in your convictions, you have to weather periods of immense stress and responsibility. It can be a very lonely place where wilting and succumbing to fear and self-doubt is simply not an option. For this, you need SAS levels of self-sufficiency, courage and endurance.

Man standing on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea
Photo by Sead Dedić on Unsplash

Rebellious

On a base, primal level entrepreneurship means leaving the tribe and setting off alone into a wild and potentially dangerous landscape. This requires a serious rebellious streak. Not only are you bucking the social norms of a steady job and monthly salary, you’ll likely be going against every instinct inside you that says you shouldn’t do it because it’s too dangerous. Also, the most successful entrepreneurs go against the grain by refusing to think and act like everyone else. For ‘rebel’ read ‘visionary’.

Accountable

You might be brave, robust and charismatic, but none of these mean anything if you’re not prepared to be accountable. As the leader of a company, and with the welfare of your employees in your hands, if you aren’t able to admit mistakes and take responsibility when things go awry, you’re a terrible businessperson. Not only that, by not recognising when you’re wrong, you’re not progressing and neither will your business. You might enjoy the praise and pride that comes when your business is doing well, but you’ve also got to be comfortable with the fact that if and when things go wrong, it’s you, and only you, who’s going to be answerable for it.

Nurturing

This is an interesting one. An article on Entrepreneur.com spoke about a Finnish study which concluded that entrepreneurs had similar feelings for their business as they did for their children. The gist of this idea is an entrepreneur should feel love for their business and a profound desire to see it grow into something great. If you’ve ever referred to your business
as your ‘baby’ now you know why.

  • Do you recognise these traits in yourself? Have you always had them, or did they emerge and strengthen through learning and life experience?

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