Entrepreneurs don’t just have great ideas, they do something about them by creating businesses. And what do most successful entrepreneurs have in common, apart from lots of money? Chances are, rather a lot. Here’s a quick look at four key characteristics of entrepreneurship, why they’re important and how to work out whether you’ve got what it takes too.
It all has to start somewhere, and almost all entrepreneurs kick-start their projects with a single idea. But entrepreneurs see beyond the horizon. And it’s that long-term, goal-orientated view that keeps them moving forward, closer to achieving their vision.
A great example is Blake Mycoskie, whose vision is for a fairer society where businesses and consumers are driven by social consciousness. This vision led to the development of shoe brand TOMS. For every pair of shoes bought, TOMS donates one pair to someone in need.
This unique concept is now known as the one-for-one model. It also provides eye care and clean water to communities through sales of sunglasses and coffee. So far, TOMS has helped more than 100 million people across the world.
Whether it’s for philanthropy or everyday need, one basic characteristic of entrepreneurship is motivation. Without that, it’s simply too easy to give up and settle for the status quo. Demonstrating this is Brian Chesky, one of the founders of Airbnb.
Although the firm has taken a hammering thanks to the pandemic, its existence comes down to one simple need – cash.
Chesky and his roommate (now business partner) Joe Gebbia were broke and jobless. During a busy conference in San Francisco, the pair decided to take advantage of the lack of hotel rooms by renting out their apartment to visiting attendees.
Armed with extra air beds to maximise space, they also provided breakfast and added themselves into the mix as tour guides. To sell their services, Chesky and Gebbia set up a website, calling it ‘Air Bed and Breakfast’, which later became Airbnb.
The path towards successful entrepreneurship is rarely straightforward, which is why tenacity is so important. But tenacity isn’t just about gritting your teeth and steamrollering over problems. It’s about solving them and overcoming challenges.
If ever an entrepreneur embodied tenacity, it’s Eric Yuan, founder of Zoom. Born in China, Yuan had his visa request rejected by the United States no less than nine times. His persistence eventually paid off.
The idea for Zoom later came while working at various telecoms firms. Inspired by the need to keep in touch with his long-distance girlfriend, Yuan’s vision was for a fun, user-friendly video conferencing tool.
He initially pitched the idea to bosses at Cisco, explaining that Zoom’s unique selling point was its virtual backgrounds that could make users look like they were anywhere in the world.
Cisco rejected the idea and Yuan left to go it alone. Unfortunately, investors weren’t forthcoming either, so Yuan turned to friends and family for help. The rest, as they say, is history. Zoom is now worth an estimated $35 billion.
Entrepreneurship comes with risk, and successful innovators aren’t afraid to embrace it.
Vera Wang perfectly illustrates that risks are well worth taking, even when the stakes are high. Despite a long and successful career in fashion editing and as a designer for Ralph Lauren, Wang decided to leave it all behind.
At 40 years old, when most of us have settled into a comfortable routine, Wang decided to set up her own bridalwear brand. Now considered a leading designer, Wang has created wedding dresses for the likes of Chelsea Clinton, Mariah Carey and Victoria Beckham.
Do you have characteristics of entrepreneurship?
Picking out characteristics of entrepreneurship in successful entrepreneurs is one thing, but it’s quite another recognising them in yourself. Yet, chances are, most of us have all these qualities albeit at different levels.
If you’re keen to seek out your inner entrepreneur, try jotting down all the things you’re good at. You could even go as far as digging out old appraisals to see what line managers had to say.
If you think you fall short, never fear. The good news is that you can learn and develop all of these entrepreneurial characteristics. Just don’t give up.
And if you do decide to start your own business, check out our article on commonly overlooked details that could help you get ahead.
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