The popular misconception is that brilliant ideas, like the “Hula Hoop” or the “Cabbage Patch Doll,” are necessary to success. Many entrepreneurial wannabes chase one miracle idea after another with the goal of getting rich quick. They have no idea of how to run a business or no comprehension of the hard work that any endeavor entails. It can be done, of course, but the likelihood of it happening is probably less than the potential for making money in Vegas or being struck by lightening.
Looking around the landscape of truly successful businesses, it becomes obvious that the owners who invested a considerable amount of time and money over many years and have “survived” every possible catastrophe are the ones who are rich today. And the rewards are not only financial they are also psychic. Whether the business is run for a modest return necessitated by constraints on time and resources when in school or on a new job, the thrill of making something work is the greatest reward of all.
Also, the freedom to be one’s own boss has universal appeal; if only in fantasy land—but if you think being your own boss means unlimited time off, forget it. Most of those who begin a new operation work around the clock and are driven to “make it work”: hardly the idealized version of the carefree business owner.
Even the mom and pop business owners have often made it into an easy retirement by “surviving” and by doing something very basic such as purchasing the building where they operate and allowing their business to pay the rent on a property that becomes, in effect, their annuity. Fortunes can be made in a relatively short time with dedication to basic principles, hard work and a little luck (most people make their luck or are around when opportunity comes along), but the bottom line is that get-rich-quick personalities should work for someone else and go to Vegas for the thrill and excitement of losing their money. Failed business ventures are no fun at all. That is not to say that every new venture has immediate success.
Even George Washington suffered defeat from time to time and like George, perseverance will bring handsome rewards-if a lesson is learned from the failures that help to insure a profitable, long-term outcome. Long term could be a few months if the scope of the project is limited, always remember that learning from mistakes is a life-long endeavor leading to maturation as a person or as a business.
Perseverance is only one of the personality traits that help determine success or failure. While there are many ways to profitably manage a business, there are some personality types that are more suited to the entrepreneurial role than others. There are books out there on the subject like “The ten most common traits of highly successful people” but the goal of this discussion is to simply list a few traits that are critical and let the self-improvement books attempt to educate the un-educatable. A few of the meaningful attributes are as follows:
Self-confidence, not false pride or bluff or bravado, with a constant belief in one’s own ability to prevail regardless of the circumstances along side a willingness to listen to others but to not be unduly swayed by contrary opinion is essential. The “consensus manager” belongs in a large organization. The faint of heart should never leave the confines of a safe, secure job working for someone else.
A bias for action. Not “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”, but a well-considered and aggressive, positive “act now” attitude with no excuses for delay.
A belief in the product being sold. The difference between a con man and a salesman is that the salesman believes in the product while the con man can sell anything regardless of whether or not he believes it to be of value to the customer. Con men often make a good living but they have trouble making the repeat sale, which is where the real money lies, and have a problem engendering the respect of their employees—or anyone else.
A firm knowledge of individual strengths and weaknesses. A true “Renaissance” person is hard to find. Usually strengths fall into one of three categories: sales and marketing: product development and design: operational expertise. To thy own self be true.
An enjoyment of making a business success rather than making money for its own sake. The moneygrubbers often fall into the con-man category.
And finally and most importantly, drive and dedication to a specific goal.