What Makes an Entrepreneur Successful?
It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur – and an even more special kind of person to be a successful entrepreneur. But what makes an entrepreneur successful? How and why do some people manage to get to the top while others don’t? These are questions that I’m asked more often than any others: how did I get to this point in my career, what drove me to get here and what makes me different from other entrepreneurs that offer the same services I do?
I see this all the time – two entrepreneurs that have the same type of business and are seemingly identical, but only one of them succeeds – how and why does that happen? And can anyone just learn from him/her and do the same?
I think entrepreneurship is very much like a talent, like painting or a beautiful singingvoice that you either have or you don’t. However, having the talent is not enough – it’s knowing how to use that talent to your advantage, having the courage and the drive to go through with even the craziest ideas and, probably most of all, really hard work.
On the other hand, there are also lots of entrepreneurs that don’t necessarily want to go all the way up to the top. They are not interested in growing their small business to a multi-million business, and they are not interested in outsourcing – and in my opinion, it’s okay not to want that. Just the fact that you know you’ve built a business from the ground up all by yourself and are able to live off of it can be so rewarding.
It’s been about eight years now since I’ve been running my own businesses and I feel like I’ve grown so much along with it. What makes me feel like I’ve succeeded is that people know how I am, they are interested in my opinions and major publications are interested in me and my business. I recently started thinking about how I got here,particularly on the back of recently getting listed in Forbes - what I’ve done to get to this point and am wondering what I did right that others similar to me didn’t. There are so many websites that offer the exact same services as Socialable, that I had to ask myself, why are some entrepreneurs more successful than others? Maybe understanding this will help me (and other people for that matter) become better at my job and help me take my business to the next level. And what better way to understand it if not by writing it all down?
Looking at other successful entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, I think the main qualities that made them so successful among their competition are their incredible drive to succeed, their passion for their business and their personalities.
A successful entrepreneur starts with a great idea. Although, that isn’t always the case. Socialable might have been more ground-breaking in its beginnings, but the rest of the world caught on quickly to the social media boom and soon there were so many social media marketing agencies and blogs popping up that it seemed almost impossible to stand out among them. I still somehow managed to make Socialable a respectable social media marketing agency and blog and couldn’t be prouder of my success and Socialable’s. That is why I think people should not be discouraged by the fact that their business idea is not exactly original. It might be harder then if you were one of the few that offered the same services or sold the same product, but a truly ingenious entrepreneur can still dominate his or her niche no matter when they throw their hat in the pool.
Another important quality behind a successful entrepreneur is passion: the passion to work hard and the passion for your product or service. And passion leads to another important quality – drive. A person that is truly passionate about their idea will want more than anything to see it become successful and they will find the drive to see it through to the top. If you love what you do, you will do a better job and people will be able to sense it, and this, in my opinion, is something that works for everyone, not just entrepreneurs.
One of the ‘uglier’ sides of entrepreneurship is that it is, to be honest, really hard work. Really really hard work. Being the boss and feeling like your business is your brainchild can be very time-consuming and at times, very frustrating. Getting a business all the way up to the top by yourself requires a lot of your attention and that means working 18-hour days at times and you’ll often be faced with moments where nothing seems worth the effort. Being a successful entrepreneur requires so much hard work that it can drive you crazy sometimes – in the end, you will need to be strong both physically and mentally in order to be able to handle it all. I’m sure every successful entrepreneur has thought about quitting and moving to Tibet at some point in their careers, but the fact they were able to overcome that is what got them so far. And as any working mother will know juggling children and running a business makes it that much harder!
Thinking about what’s helped me get to where I am is the fact that I’ve tried my best to be very organized with my thoughts, and I was always very clear about my goals for both myself and Socialable. Knowing where I wanted to get made it easier for me to get there. By clearly knowing what I want to achieve, I am almost ruthless in my attempts to get there. I am always very honest with everyone about my goals and focus all my efforts on achieving them – and more often than not, it’s worked beautifully! It’s so easy to get sidetracked from your goals that you can miss them altogether in the end.
An entrepreneur that wants to be successful must also understand that he/she can’t get all the way up to the top all on their own. You have to find other people that you can inspire with your passion, that understand what you want to achieve and that you feel comfortable working with. It’s not just about finding great employees – but also about finding people that share your vision and people that can mentor and coach you and help you evolve. I think it’s very important to understand that even the greatest minds can’t do everything on their own and many of them wouldn’t have gotten to the points they are in their lives without the help and support of other brilliant, like-minded people.
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – everyday I’m learning something new” Richard Branson
“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts” Larry Ellison
“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big” Donald Trump
“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration” Thomas Edison
“High expectations are the key to everything” Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart)
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” Walt Disney
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying” Michael Jordan
“You can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new” Steve Jobs
In the end, I think what it all comes down to is the passion and the drive to do whatever is necessary to be successful. What do you think makes an entrepreneur successful?
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