While there are many reports published about the rate of failure of new business ventures, few of them are encouraging. A study by a Harvard Business School senior lecturer provides a case in point: about 75% of venture backed firms in the US fail to return investors’ capital.
To start a new business is anything but easy. Any entrepreneur worth his or her salt knows that, to do it right, you don’t rush into the market with a lame-brained “completely unique” idea. The way you get started is to approach an existing fertile market with a slightly new angle, and a lot of energy.
The problem is, an existing fertile market already has a lot of players, so the new kid on the block is destined to encounter an immense amount of rejection. That’s because the fledgling entrepreneur is trying to rock the boat. And markets already in motion don’t take kindly to boat rockers.
It’s the entrepreneurial energy factor that ultimately tips the scale for moving a new business from rookie to veteran status. But it’s not just wild, undifferentiated energy that makes the difference. The successful entrepreneur requires a combination of personal ingredients to pull off the special magic that keeps his or her new venture afloat until it arrives. Here are five of those most essential personal attributes:
When suppliers bail, employees fail, and clients or customers want to revert back to the tried and true, it becomes easy for the entrepreneur to lose sight of the prize. But that is the time for him or her to dig in their heels and make it happen. Time does not favor the new kid on the block, so they need the confidence to act quickly. But they also need that jolt of confidence to reinforce their faith in their original vision of the business.
In her Psychology Today article, writer Hara Estroff Marano has this to say about a resilient person:
“Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.”
Think for a minute how important resilience is. What would have happened to Ford if it hadn’t changed its strategy once it found out its Edsel was a bomb? Or what would have happened to Coca Cola had it not faced up to the absurdity of the Classic Coke vs New Coke fiasco? An entrepreneur just starting a business needs resilience even more than the Ford and Coke executives who presided over their respective marketing faux pas. He has less capital and company identity to fall back on.
No doubt about it, the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs are extroverts. By that, we don’t mean that they’re glad-handing, back-slapping types or boors. But face it: if you’ve just developed a new product or service, it’s like your child. You want to talk about it, you want the world to know about it, and you want it to do well. The true entrepreneur is at ease in the company of strangers, and captivating enough to make people remember him or her and what the product will be able to do for them. In other words, the entrepreneur is adept at instantaneous marketing.
Have you ever met someone with fantastic ideas for a new business that never got off the ground? Chances are that person was suffering from a lack of focus. Maybe that person had ten ideas that could have gone somewhere. But you know something? The entrepreneur with more limited vision, but who has the determination to see just one of those ideas through to fruition, has a much greater chance for success.
The cliché of the entrepreneur who sacrifices family and love for business has to be re-examined. A truly successful entrepreneur knows why he’s creating and working his business, and has a true sense of where he’s going with it. As Tony Robbins puts it:
“Fulfillment can only be achieved through a pattern of living in which we focus on two spiritual needs: 1) the need to continuously grow; and 2) the need to contribute beyond ourselves in a meaningful way.”
This sense of purpose is particularly important for the entrepreneur, because when he’s alone nights when his employees have long left for the day, he has to understand why he’s where he is, and needs to have a clear sense of direction for his life and his business.