By Christie Day
Do entrepreneurs have common personality traits that help them to succeed? While there is no magic formula that will guarantee success, if we look at the mental attributes of some of the leading entrepreneurs there are shared characteristics among those that flourish. Motivated, confident, persistent, intuitive – we don’t need to delve too deeply into the psychological side to recognise the more obvious qualities. The question is, can these entrepreneurial behaviours be learned or are successful business people born leaders? Can anyone adopt a winning mind-set to help their personal business prosper?
There are several well-known executives who clearly had a natural entrepreneurial gift from an early age. Take Sir Richard Branson who started selling records from a church while was running a student magazine, or Lord Sugar who sold car radio aerials and other electrical goods out of a van when he was a teenager. Humble beginnings and now billionaire business owners.
Then we have those who had the entrepreneurial foresight and ambition during their early careers in different fields. Baroness Karren Brady began her career in advertising sales straight after leaving school and aged just 23 was appointed Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club. She is now one of the most high profile, respected business leaders in the UK. Also, Lady Michelle Mone, who was made redundant from a promising sales and marketing role at a brewing company and had a lightbulb moment that took her from designing bras to founder of the nation’s leading lingerie company.
These inspiring success stories may seem unachievable to some, but as Karren Brady quotes on her website “You can’t determine where you start in life, but you can determine where you end up.” In other words, if you want to start your own business and really make it work there are steps you can take to help you on the journey. Adopting a different mind-set could allow you to think and act like the entrepreneur you aspire to be.
As champions of women in business, the WIB Expo team has a few key tips for female entrepreneurs. While these ways of thinking are certainly not exclusive to women, statistics show that only a third of UK entrepreneurs are female so we feel it is important to encourage more women to go after success. There is a pool of untapped female potential out there and with the right support and guidance their business ideas could take them to the top of their game.
Confidence, confidence, confidence.
A fundamental characteristic of all successful entrepreneurs is their level of confidence in both their business idea and their ability. When you want buyers and investors to believe in you and your ideas, you need to truly believe in yourself first. You can still be open to feedback and critique, but you should be completely convinced that your business idea will yield positive results and that you have the capacity to make it happen. Carrying out in depth research into your business idea will help to dispel any doubts. So know your market, your USP and your key personal strengths to bolster your self-belief.
Take risks and don’t fear failure.
Risks are inherent in any new venture and we frequently hear many successful business people say that failure is an inevitable part of success. Being willing to take risks and move outside of your comfort zone is all part of the journey. It’s crucial that you frame failure as an opportunity to learn. The path to success will hopefully have an upwards trajectory but it is rarely a straight line. Any failure should drive you forward. Observe and absorb what you have learned, brush yourself off and start again.
Don’t be a Jack or Jill of all trades
Successful entrepreneurs leverage their strengths and understand that they can’t do everything. All business people are naturally better at some things more than others, and where there are areas of weakness or lack of knowledge, that is the time to outsource and seek external help. Knowing that you can’t tackle every obstacle on your own is a strength in itself. If budget allows, build a small, solid reliable team of experts around you. If bringing people in house is ruled out on financial grounds, hire consultants to look at the more complex, labour-intensive parts of the business. That will ensure you can focus on the overarching business strategy and not get bogged down by minutiae.
Being rigid isn’t an option in business and can be a great way to fail. The ability to adapt to change quickly is critical, whether there’s a new competitor springing on to the scene or dip in demand in the target market. Being flexible means having the courage and conviction to rethink a situation, keeping track of feedback about pricing, products and services and making tweaks when necessary. The path of an entrepreneur will occasionally go off course and flexibility is an important skill to keep you on track.
The latest statistics show that women only make up 27% of full-time chief executives and senior officials. Yet, research also shows that female role models are incredibly important for aspiring women entrepreneurs to empower, provide inspiration and reset negative mind-sets. Whether it is for advice on a business plan or funding for an idea, having other people who can say they’ve been there, done that, will be a huge help. There are several options for finding female business role models. Women’s mentoring schemes are widely available and can be found via a simple online search. Also, networking and attending events aimed at like-minded business women, such as WIB Expo, can be an invaluable way to build your confidence and contacts book, as well as getting practical advice on making a start-up a success.
Women considering starting their own business can attend the free WIB Expo, which takes place 16-17 October in Farnborough. The event will offer inspiration and genuine business opportunities to any budding entrepreneurs, with high-profile speakers including Karren Brady and Michelle Mone, sharing their success stories.