Do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? 7 must-have traits

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Becoming an entrepreneur is THE dream for many people, regardless of gender, race, location, background etc. Some spend years of their life talking about being an entrepreneur and the great ideas they have, but don’t ever realize that dream. At Caravanserai Project we call them “armchair entrepreneurs”. Yet others are taking action and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. They leave no stone unturned until their idea takes off and shapes into a business.

We all measure success differently when it comes to entrepreneurship. For many, success means being able to increase their economic mobility, achieve financial independence and build personal wealth that will be passed on to next generations. For others, it is about being their own boss and enjoying the feeling of owning something they built and that represents them. Of course, for some a successful entrepreneur is synonymous to being recognized as a Silicon Valley household name.

While it may be true that some amount of luck, connections, karma etc. are part of becoming a successful entrepreneur, nothing can replace hard work, commitment, creativity, and some key personal traits to make-or-break. These traits are the same whether we are talking about for profit or nonprofit entrepreneurs. The effort, the strategies, the commitment, and determination should be similar.

Based on Caravanserai Project’s experience in mentoring, coaching and funding numerous entrepreneurs and reading hundreds of applications received from startup and early-stage entrepreneurs seeking to join our programs, we identified a set of 7 traits that any individual with aspirations to build a business enterprise should demonstrate. 

So, do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?

Strong desire, self-motivation, and passion to create something new and make a difference in the world. This is the “square one” of any entrepreneurial journey. The passion and motivation to create something unique and innovate must be in our DNA. It is also about what kind of impact you want to have on those around you, your community, and the world. Making a difference should be part of any entrepreneur’s mindset, regardless of the business model they are adopting. 

Entrepreneurs are resonating at different stimuli, they just don’t see obstacles and barriers, but “something” that is bothering them, and they need to get rid of it quickly so they can stay focused on what is important and advance.

Creative problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking. Being able to always be in the shoes of somebody else, identify their desires and needs, look at existing solutions and understand what is missing and how you can improve them is not just the key is a must. Effective and innovative entrepreneurs are those who can navigate the existing status-quo and are able to use it to start building and developing different solutions to challenges they are committed to tackle.

Comfortable taking risks and willing to make bold decisions. Entrepreneurship is all about making decisions and taking risks, both small and big. There is not much room for “FOMO” – fear of missing out. Sometimes it requires a high degree of assertiveness and decisiveness, while in other instances having the capacity to pause and consider the next steps is a risky decision in itself.  

Resilience and persistence in the face of obstacles, setbacks, and failures. An entrepreneur’s journey is never smooth. Sometimes you fail, other time you succeed. Keeping up the pace and moving forward, even if it requires changing the plans, should be part of every entrepreneur’s mindset.

Keep that momentum going despite the risks and setbacks. You might have to quit a job, move to a new place, buy a jacket or suitcase in preparation for a business meeting, learn about law, regulations, design, management, and social media. This is all about being persistent, resilient and believing in your idea.

Adaptable and able to pivot quickly when things don’t go according to plan. Learning from both failures and successes is part of being an entrepreneur. Inability to evaluate, monitor and incorporate the lessons learned can hamper progress and will most likely lead to failure or stagnation. For committed entrepreneurs, failure and successes are just checkpoints along their journey. Failure translates to “not there yet” while success is a “this way” sign.

Clear vision and ability to communicate that vision to others. At Caravanserai Project, we have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of entrepreneurs in various stages of their growth. From startup to more advanced entrepreneurs, having a clear vision of their future and their ventures’ path is always an encouraging sign. They might not yet be able to fully articulate all the details of how they will get there, but thinking big is crucial. And so is their capacity to clearly convey that vision in oral or written presentations, pitches, or any other context.

Leadership and ability to inspire and motivate their team to work toward a common goal. Many argue that entrepreneurship is a lonely endeavor, and it is a very accurate statement. Yet being able to influence others to believe in your mission, vision and plans is essential. An entrepreneur needs to have the capacity to inspire others, have them join their vision whether as investors, adopters, or buyers.

When you become your dream and vision, it is usually easy to become a leader. It is important to leverage people and resources to start your business. Do not forget to give back and take the “leader” position as another hat to wear. It always pays off when you know when to take it off.

The list of traits expected from entrepreneurs is much longer, of course, and it changes case-by-case. Yet, based on our experience working with a plethora of entrepreneurs involved in a wide variety of sectors and bringing unique professional acumen and lived experiences, these 7 traits have always been part of their profiles. It is also a checklist that we have in mind as we are reviewing applications, engaging with them or supporting their efforts.  

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