Are there qualities common to entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs? (Courtesy of Digital Trends)
As the world continues to moan over the demise of Apple head honcho Steve Jobs, numerous articles have been written about his entrepreneurial legacy.
These cover the length and breadth of his astounding career as one of the century’s greatest CEOs.
While reflecting upon this, a thought occurred to me.
Are there certain intrinsic qualities in entrepreneurs that make them who they are?
What could we observe about their personalities, emotional make-up and life views that made them different from the rest of us?
Looking back on my own experience in dealing with successful entrepreneurs, and what I knew of them, I’ve noted that there are certain qualities embodied by leading entrepreneurs that shape and mold them. While many of us do have these traits in different quantities, winning entrepreneurs have them in spades.
What are the most definitive characteristics of these business leaders?
Assertive and Outspoken
For a start, entrepreneurs are usually more assertive and outspoken than your average Joe.
They are normally slightly louder and more vocal in any social or professional setting than your salaried staff, asserting themselves in their respective niches. Being able to speak your mind is an important trait of entrepreneurship – you cannot be a wall flower if you want a thousand flowers to bloom.
Curious and Imaginative
Winning entrepreneurs are naturally imaginative and curious. On average, they ask a lot more questions, and do not shy away from probing more deeply in a group learning context.
They are also more “kaypoh” than others, and are often engaged in gossip and discussions that not only serve to strengthen their networks, but help them to uncover critically important information. With eyes and ears wide open, they scan the landscape looking for opportunities and observing everything around them.
Good Head for Numbers
Being business folks, good entrepreneurs are also highly numerate. They have an uncanny feel for financial figures like sales, cost of goods sold, employee salaries, percentages, SKUs, volume and visitor traffic.
After all, money is the lifeblood of business and any entrepreneur worth his or her salt ought to know how the money is made and the bills are paid.
Most business starters have a seemingly endless fount of energy.
I recalled a work trip to London many years ago how an entrepreneur asked a couple of us bureaucrats along for a few drinks, ventured out further while we called it a night, and returned to his hotel room later to send out business related faxes and emails at 3 or 4 am in the morning!
The next day, he was still in time for our meetings, with not a hair out of place.
(PS – he is currently the boss of Singapore’s largest sushi chain.)
Naturally, risk taking is another distinctive trait of successful (indeed all) entrepreneurs.
While some may display a more calculated measure of restraint, others simply go the whole hog when pursuing an opportunity. In Singapore, I do also find that certain Chinese towkays are also heavy gamblers not just in the business sense but in casinos!
Passionate and Combative
Passion is the next defining factor in successful entrepreneurs. Some may call them hot-headed and obstinate, while others may label them as emotionally charged.
Call it what you may, entrepreneurs are not your wall flowers. They will fight for what they believe in, and are masters in playing the game of emotion in order to achieve their ends.
Finally, and perhaps the most important, entrepreneurs are resilient.
That old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is especially true with this bunch. While failure does impact all of us negatively – entrepreneurs or otherwise – they normally bounce back more quickly and often see the silver lining in the cloud.
As long as they have their two hands, a head, and two feet, successful entrepreneurs will continue to pursue their passion in starting, running and managing businesses.
What are some of the other traits of leading entrepreneurs? I’d love to hear your thoughts.