I’ve covered the traits of a survivor in this post  10 traits of a survivor; and it’s time I wrote about being an entrepreneur. Being a survivor and being an entrepreneur might be similar, but it’s not the same. So what personality trait makes you an entrepreneur?

10 traits of an entrepreneur –

1. Persistence

Yes, this person might be the laziest and the most incapable person to be even considered an entrepreneur. But the same person will one-up everyone else and do what he’s supposed to do when he has his eyes set on a particular target. When that time comes, he will be more persistent than you could ever hope to be, just to achieve what he wants to.


2. The long con.

I recently took an OLA cab and traveled for quite some time because the driver was very interactive. He gave me a lot of information about how OLA does business. He said that right now, OLA is not making a lot of money because it is busy getting a lot of private owners to tie up with them by giving them incentives, extra money per kilometer, etc., When I asked him how this was profitable, he said that eventually, every person in every small town, to every major city will start using OLA instead of other cab services, or auto rickshaws due to the cheap rates.

“They will eventually make every penny they have invested in the past” he said.

This is what I meant by “the long con”. Having that mindset to think well into the future and then making a move now. That mindset is essential in an entrepreneur.


3. Humility.

In my experiences, pursuing my ventures and partnering with other people taught me a lot of humility. Being an entrepreneur is being a leader, as well as being a follower. Ofcourse, the people you employ follow your vision, but the ones you partner with might have a different, better way to approach a lot of aspects. When that time comes, you need to be sure not to be stubborn.

Don’t mistake your partner, or anyone giving you advice to be cocky. They just know that aspect better than you. You can always use that advice to grow YOUR startup. Starting a business doesn’t mean that you get to be bossy over everyone else. It mostly means that you need to be friends with everyone to even survive.


4. Striking when the iron’s hot.

Yes, I know it seems like a cliche. But I’m going to go deeper into this aspect.

I once met a guy who ventured into a lot of industries, setting up businesses wherever he found an opportunity. I asked him how he was able to do it. He said –

“Look at that food cart over there. He’s making a significant amount of money, that’s a given. But what do you think would make his business a lot more profitable? What do you think we can do to improve his business both visually and financially? (visually, because it was a cart)”

I gave it a minute’s thought. “I don’t know. Get colored lamps, cover the cart with nice sheets, get some chairs to sit,  or set him up in a nice place?”

“See? now you can partner with him to improve his established business. He obviously will hesitate to make any investments. If you take care of atleast half of the investments needed to improve his business, I’m pretty sure he would want to partner with you.”

Just to be sure, I spoke with the cart guy if he would be interested in this kind of partnership. Surprisingly, he was.

That friend of mine saw every single thing as an opportunity to set up a business. You need to develop that trait in you which sizes everything down to a “this is how I can make money out of it” form.


5. Pragmatism.

You might have this great idea to build the next big thing, which would help you be the next Steve Jobs. That is great. But, are you sure that your idea is practical? Are you sure that it is actually make-able? Are you sure it doesn’t require the technology of tomorrow just to build it? Are you sure that your idea has a viable market?

Being a dreamer is one thing. Being practical; now that’s hard to be. I can imagine virtual reality taking over the world with all it’s fancy gizmos and software; but it will not happen in atleast a year or two. It will take time to even build mind-boggling products like the one you see in minority report. So it might not be a good idea to establish a startup for these products right now, unless you have investment and a firm vision of how your product / service will be in the future.


6. Incredible adaptation.

They have another term for this in the startup lingo – pivot.

Your idea may be an incredibly unique one. There might not be anything out there which even comes close to how your idea works. But you can’t get a big enough market for it; you can’t get a big enough market for your idea, unless you pivot. Maybe not completely, but just enough to gain enough potential customers.

At this stage, if you’re being stubborn about adapting, then you might not even survive later, regardless of whether you have a big market right now.


7. Ability to accept failure, like a boss.

You’ve come up with a new idea, and you want to turn that idea into a business. Chances are, you’re going to fail more than you will succeed, statistically speaking. If you succeed, then great. But if you don’t, then you need to have the guts to stand up and fight again. Most people just give up after their startup fails. I get it; there’s a lot of hard work behind every startup. But you need to understand that accepting failures, assessing them and then rebuilding your startup is part of being an entrepreneur.

It is more practice than skill. Assessing why you failed, and then correcting them the next time you try is a common trait in every great entrepreneur. That practice of assessing makes it a skill. But turning it into a practice; that is what defines your inner entrepreneur.


8. You don’t know everything.

Yes, this holds good even if you’re Bill Gates. The exciting thing about entrepreneurship is that every step along the way is an opportunity to learn about your own industry, as well as the others. If there’s somebody yapping their mouths off about your niche, LISTEN. You may filter it off as bullshit just because he/she comes across as a condescending person. But, don’t do that. Listen to them. Chances are, you’ll find out something about your industry, or another industry that you can tap into and grow your business.

Most of the times I meet people, I listen, rather than talk a lot about what I do. If I decide that that person actually knows what he’s talking about, I listen more than I talk. Otherwise, I’m just networking. Either way, I win.

I used to shop for groceries with my mom, and whenever she negotiated the prices, I used to be ashamed of my mom about the fact that she was negotiating prices (which used to work all the time). Little did I know about how important that skill is in business. So, the next time we shopped, I listened to how she negotiated with people. And, now I’m more than glad I learned a new, important skill.


9. Playing By The Rules? LOL .

I’m not saying that to be an entrepreneur, you need to have this trait. If you do, then that is great for you; But if you don’t, then you ought to learn to break more rules. Breaking the rules merely means to not follow the convention. Why should you let some unknown authority dictate the terms of your living ? Don’t mistake this for breaking the law. Breaking the convention is totally different. If you’ve read Steve Jobs – A Biography, then you’ll know what I’m taking about.

Having that rebel inside you is good for you. Don’t filter out that trait saying that it’s too dark, or unconventional. A small percentage of that trait defines the awesomeness of your inner entrepreneur. ( watch Ferris Bueller’s day off to know what it is like to be a rebel. )


10. Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying.

If you’re not moving forward, then you feel that pressure of time strangling your neck. You’re not content with where you are, and you see a clear path of what lies ahead and you know that can be yours if you decide to take that path. This isn’t some greed for more power, or for more money, or anything. This is that unrelenting surge of passion and drive to innovate and succeed at it. You can’t put it in words. You can only do it and show others that they can do it too, if they had the courage to pursue their dreams and ideas.


And finally, a lot of people might say that having a clear vision is necessary. But, no one can know what their startup can become. Google is much more than an advertising company, facebook is so much more than what it was wen it started, gadget companies have evolved so radically that no entrepreneur on the planet could even dream of what it has become today.

So, if don’t have a vision, don’t panic. Not every great entrepreneur had a clear vision of what their companies could be in the future.