It seems that in the midst of all the smoke and mirrors surrounding the need for aspiring millennials to step-up and embrace the times by starting their own venture, many are forgetting one very important ingredient for success in almost any field. Aptitude.
Not all of us were cut out for the gruelling and unforgiving life of a champion athlete and common sense would suggest that the same would go for the self-employed arena. There cannot be an unlimited number of CEOs and Founders – in fact, they have to remain the minority for their respective industries to thrive.
We set out to take a look at what personality types fit the startup founder tag best – apart from the usual necessary mix of discipline, acumen and work ethic. In no way is this meant to discourage budding business owners – it purely functions as a guide to highlight certain traits that make one more adept at the trials and tribulations as well as the roller coaster that is the unforgiving world of entrepreneurship.
They are often a Jack-of-All-Trades
This is not to say that founders have no area of specialisation – due to the amount of duties that they have to juggle, however, they tend to lean towards being able to do a multitude of things and not be a master of one particular trade. Stanford University economist Edward P. Lazear proposed this theory, stating that MBAs who took a broader range of classes and held a wider range of jobs were more likely to be self employed. It can be said that they often manage to see the big picture rather than the little details that make up a business. An art in its own.
They Tend to be Willing to Take (calculated) Risks
Entrepreneurs (successful ones) tend to possess the mettle to take calculated risks and sound decisions based on research and analysis. Think of founders who have made it big and you will struggle to find one that took the safe route – security is what you find in your average salaried work complete with annual leave– not in the startup world. It is no coincidence that many a success story began with the dropping out of a tertiary institution to pursue a dream.
The Ability to Visualise
The necessity for positive thought aside, successful entrepreneurs also have the ability to think laterally, spotting opportunities where others haven’t. This is not so much a learned skill but a mix of the ability to identify gaps and being at the right time at the right place. When mixed with a healthy amount of self-belief, this proves to be a potent recipe for success. A survey by TD Bank that included 500 small business owners showed that those who created a vision board that related to their goals were almost twice as confident they’d achieve them than those who didn’t visualise their goals in some way. This points to the old adage of not being able to get where one wants if one doesn’t know what that is.
The Ability to Accept Failure
There are not many successful entrepreneurs that succeeded on their first try at the startup world. Acceptance of failure is not one that everyone can bear but is all part of the founder’s learning curve. Colonel Sander’s recipe for KFC was reportedly rejected over 1000 times before he made it. Henry Ford started two automobile companies that failed before he made success. Sir James Dyson went through over 5000 prototypes of his vacuum before finally becoming successful. All these entrepreneurs embraced failure and had the tenacity to continue at almost all costs. They were a stubborn and headstrong lot, never taking no for an answer.
It should be noted that this is not a comprehensive checklist (the list goes on and on) of personality traits that every founder has to possess, rather commonalities that seem to be evident in most success cases within the startup arena. For those of us without these innate qualities, there is always good old-fashioned hard work.