Four Characteristics of Exemplary Entrepreneurs
It seems that behind every successful entrepreneur is a kid who was always doing some kind of business from an early age. But what exactly is it that sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest? What is it that makes certain people believe in themselves enough to take the prospect of failure head-on and have the determination to come out on top? It takes a special kind of person to set an idea in motion, riding the highs and lows from humble beginnings to ultimate success. The entrepreneurial spirit is a gift that inspires others to become the best they can be.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin mega-brand embodies the word passion. Part of Branson’s passion lies in his insatiable appetite for starting companies and surrounding himself with equally passionate people. Founded in 1970, the Virgin Group has expanded to more than 200 companies, ranging from music, publishing, mobile phones and even space travel. “Businesses are like buses,” he once said. “There’s always another one coming.” He makes it sound so simple.
Part of Branson’s appeal is that he not only has passion for business, but an incredible passion for life. Branson is famous for his adventurous streak and zest for life, making him one of the most admired entrepreneurs for his ability to have a successful work/life balance.
Some people call this ambition. Ambition has to do with drive and determination, which are critically important but purpose gets to the core of why you are doing anything and will sustain you through the inevitable ups and downs and direct your decision-making.
At age 20, Debbi Fields didn’t have much. She was a young housewife with no business experience, but what she did have was a great chocolate chip cookie recipe and a dream to share it with the world.
Fields opened her first Mrs. Field’s store in 1977, despite being told she was crazy to believe a business could survive solely on selling cookies. Fields’ determination and deep purpose to get more for her family, helped her grow her little cookie store into a $450 million company with more than 600 locations in the U.S. and 10 foreign nations.
Having the ability to adapt is one of the greatest strengths every entrepreneur needs. Every successful business owner must be willing ask great questions and listen to the answers from employees and customers in order to improve, refine and customize their services to continually serve the people who benefit from their product or service.
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page take this concept a step further by not just reacting to change, but leading the way. Google continually leads the internet with innovative ideas that allow people to see and do things in ways they couldn’t before (think Google Earth). With their ability to continually be one step ahead, its no wonder Google is one of the most powerful companies on the web.
A good leader is someone with charisma, a sense of ethics and a desire to build integrity within an organization–someone who’s enthusiastic, team oriented and a great teacher. All of these attributes were embodied by the late Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, a company that has helped more than half a million women fulfill their dreams of owning a business.
Ash’s story began as a single mother, working in sales for a home products company. Despite being one of the top sales directors for 25 years, Ash was repeatedly refused the promotions and pay raises her male co-workers were receiving. Fed up with the way she was being treated, Ash started Mary Kay Inc. in 1963 with $5,000, which would be about $35,000 in 2014. Thanks to her powerful leadership skills, Ash has been named one of the 25 most influential business leaders in the last 35 years.
The spirit of an entrepreneur may be a gift but it is also something that needs to be directed, developed and grown. If you have ideas for a business, my advice is to surround yourself with successful people and find some great coaches and mentors. If you want to be in business you are in the people business so it is essential that you develop mutually beneficial and trusted relationships with other like minded people. Ask good questions and listen, reflect and always stay in motion. When you blend your passion and purpose with adaptability and leadership you will have a formula for success.
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