I often get asked by potential entrepreneurs, what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I don't claim to be an expert on this, but here's what I think would be necessary components:
- Gumption. Spunk. The ability to be knocked down on your knees and get up and brush off the dust and get going all over again.
- Optimism. Not blind faith. The hope that things will get better. But not blind faith that they'll get better by themselves. No sir, you'll have to do a lot to help things get better. But they surely will. This also involves faith in yourself.
- Integrity. Lots of entrepreneurs think its all about the money. It really isn't. It's really about who you are as a person, and how much conviction you have in yourself, not to take those shortcuts, not to pay those bribes, not to shortchange your customers and your people.
- Ideation. Innovation. Ingenuity. Your venture is not just about that one big idea. Heck, I've never had one big idea. It's always about a whole host of ideas. You keep trying as many of them as you can, pursue those that work, and discard those that don't. This also entails the willingness to be a lifelong student. To continuously learn and adapt as you go along.
- Mentors. I have been lucky in this regard. But then I've also learnt that finding good mentors is really difficult, and you also don't need someone handholding you for every little problem.
- The dream. When the chips are down, sometimes what keeps you going is the dream you behold in your mind's eye. What kind of an office will your people work out of one day? What kind of deals will you be closing some day? Maybe it's childish, but that's the kind of dream that has always kept me going.
- Ability to move on. Every time you notch up a success, you need to have the ability to celebrate it, but then move on. Don't rest on those laurels. They no longer count, and you got to set your sights higher now. And every time you fail, learn the lesson and then move on as well.
- Consideration. Gratefulness. Humility. You're never going to get ahead without being humble enough about how much you've contributed, and how much others have contributed to your success. So acknowledge that and give people their due. Also, if you only listen, your people will come up with some of the greatest ideas. So give that equal consideration, if not more.
- Good communication skills. Both verbal and written. If you can't get your point across in a direct, convincing, non-confrontational manner, then it's going to be an uphill climb. So work on those communication skills. With practice and effort you can get really good at them.