Many factors will dictate how well you succeed as a young entrepreneur. Luck. Preparation. Hard work. Timing.
There’s also personality. The most successful entrepreneurs in the world share a handful of personality traits. Traits like perseverance and self-motivation. By looking at what successful entrepreneurs have in common – throughout history and across cultures – you can sharpen those skills within yourself.
Some of these traits might feel natural to you. When you were born, you already had a certain disposition wired into you. You may be a natural risk-taker. Or, you have always felt a strong creative flow. Whatever you feel comes naturally, try to build on those traits in terms of entrepreneurship.
However, some of these traits may not come naturally to you. Not everyone is a born risk-taker. And that’s fine! As a young entrepreneur, your mind and personality are still growing and learning. You can learn these skills, including how to become comfortable with them.
Not one single successful entrepreneur got where they are by slacking off. True entrepreneurs understand the importance of finding motivation inside themselves. There will always be outside reasons to not do a thing. The difference between success and failure lies in maintaining the “why” of doing what you’re doing. Remember why you started this in the first place. Think about all the ways your business will help others. There will be blocks, setbacks, and detours. The successful young entrepreneur knows better than to let those things kill your dreams and drive.
➜ Self-motivation is a skill anyone can learn! Once you do, it will help you in all areas of your life, not just entrepreneurship.
If entrepreneurship were to be summed up in one personality trait, it would probably be risk-taking. That’s because nearly every aspect of entrepreneurship is about risk. The risk of rejection. The risk of failure. The risk of not being taken seriously.
But without risk, there is no business. Your idea will stay inside your head and never be made into reality. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, there’s a chance you’ll fail. But as hockey great Wayne Gretsky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” That means the only 100% sure way to fail is to not even try.
➜ Even if you’re the person in your family or friend group who waits at the bottom of the roller coaster for everyone to finish the ride, you can still learn how to be a risk-taker in business. Don’t let fear hold you back!
We’re not talking about painting or dancing. Not entirely, anyway. Creativity is also a business skill. The creativity to find solutions to problems. The creativity to think outside the box. (Yes, it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.) The creativity to imagine a better world, a better you, a better life. This particular trait will be what separates you from your competition and helps you stand out in a crowd.
➜ Everyone has creative muscles, even if they think they don’t. The key to developing creativity as a young entrepreneur is to make an effort to work at it, think about it, and build those muscles!
Let’s get real: you may be the luckiest, most self-motivated, and creative risk-taker out there. But without good communication skills, how will anyone know what a genius you are? Who will want to help you, or buy your product?
Good communication is one of the most important qualities of good leadership. Think of it like this: if your English teacher doesn’t tell you what books will be discussed in class, how will you know what to read? If your parents aren’t clear on what time everyone is leaving the house for a family vacation, how will you know when to be ready?
➜ Whether you are a naturally strong, charismatic speaker or a shy introvert, anyone can learn how to grow and sharpen their communication skills. It takes some practice, sure, but once you get out of your comfort zone, you’ll find that your entrepreneurial journey goes much smoother.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your decisions. No one is ever 100% certain of their decisions 100% of the time. However, indecisiveness will almost certainly work against you. Even a wrong decision is better than nothing. A wrong decision will be a life lesson, a chance to learn and change things up next time.
Without decades of life experience behind you yet, making business decisions can feel, well, wrong. You may not have had to make decisions like these before. But that’s ok! A big part of your entrepreneurial journey is experiencing things for the first time. Including making decisions. While it’s unlikely you’ll have to make actual life-or-death decisions, you’ll still have to consider things like pricing your product, marketing your business, and whether to hire your friends. Remember: few, if any, of your decisions will be set in stone forever.
➜ As with all the other traits on this list, you absolutely can learn how to be better at making decisions. This, in turn, will lead to self-confidence and success!
If there’s one thing all five of these traits have in common, it’s not letting fear hold you back. Fear is the #1 enemy of successful entrepreneurship. Even if you feel timid now, you don’t have to live that way. And if you want to become a young entrepreneur, you can’t live that way.
You don’t need to be expert-level at every one of these traits before you head down your entrepreneurial journey. In fact, it may be better to learn them as you go along. It’s simply the nature of entrepreneurship that you’ll have to nurture these traits within yourself as they come up.
Remember: these aren’t just entrepreneurial traits. These are life skills that will take you far in school, relationships, and business!
Young entrepreneurs in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we have to offer and how to apply.