If you thought a top-notch degree from a B-School makes for a successful entrepreneur, you couldn't be more mistaken. Guts, grit and the ability to dream big. That's what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Not everyone with a great business idea can become an entrepreneur. Translating that idea into an actual business calls for a certain kind of person, one who can see himself or herself through their darkest hour.
Here are seven traits common to entrepreneurs who have built empires from virtually nothing but a viable idea.
1. That one big dream
This one is a no-brainer. To be an entrepreneur, you must have that one big dream. Let's face it, even if your idea is truly extraordinary, chances are you are going to meet with rejection more than once, even when you bounce it off your closest friends and family.
But if you have courage and conviction, and obviously a solid business plan to back your dream, there can be no stopping you. Chances are, those who scoff at you initially will be admiring you when you're a success!
Prajakt Raut, co-founder and President at Angel Investors Consortium (AIC), says it is important for any entrepreneurs to have a "large aspiration" and the willingness to create something "valuable". Raut, who has handheld several start-ups and early-stage companies, defines 'large' and 'valuable' in terms of impact.
2. Taking calculated risks
They say life is all about taking risks, so why should running a business be any different? As an entrepreneur, you cannot always play it safe. But running a business means taking calculated risks, not being impulsive. Always weigh the pros and cons carefully before you do something that might seem risky.
3. Decision-making skills
A successful entrepreneur is able to think on their feet and take quick decisions in the interest of one's business. There is no room for dilly-dallying, which could, for instance, increase overhead costs or take a toll on bottom lines. However, there is a fine line between taking 'quick' decisions and 'hasty' decisions. Make sure you know the difference!
4. The organiser
Entrepreneurship is all about multi-tasking and organisational skills. Sure, you will have employees working for you, but as long as you hold the reins, you will have to wear several hats at once. Running a business means you have to understand and analyse every aspect of the business as well as execute efficiently.
5. The quintessential salesman
An entrepreneur has to understand the concept of sales, says Raut of AIC. By 'sales', Raut does not mean the final sale of a product or service. 'Sale' begins when you conceptualise your business. It's about selling your very concept to just about everyone, from customers, to vendors, to early-stage investors. You will cut ice with each of these stakeholders only if you can make a convincing argument. This calls for excellent communication skills. If you cannot explain your vision lucidly to the various stakeholders, chances are you will meet with repeated rejection.
6. Never-say-die attitude
Kunal Bahl, serial entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Snapdeal.com, one of India's best known online retail market place, believes the most important quality of every successful entrepreneur is the 'never-say-die' attitude. Bahl says an entrepreneur must have uncompromising determination. "There are times when things don't work according to plan, but giving up is a luxury that no entrepreneur can afford," says Bahl. Every entrepreneur, by default, takes the path less travelled. The corollary is to never back down or give up.
7. Learning and change are the only constants
A successful entrepreneur is always open to change. While you usually start out with your own ideas, and while it is good to have conviction in them, there is no reason to believe you and your approach is always right.
To stay at the top, you must be ready to learn from your mistakes, keep abreast with what is happening in and around you and embrace change whenever necessary. If there is scope for improvement in your business and it requires you to change the way you operate or perceive a given situation, you should be humble and flexible enough to do so without hesitation.
India is fertile ground for entrepreneurs and policy-makers are slowly but surely warming up to fact that entrepreneurs of today are the movers and shakers of tomorrow. So if you think you have it in you, now is the time to put your best foot forward!
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