Starting a business is a big deal. It takes balls and guts to wake up, look at an idea and trust it to the point of deciding, “heck yeah. I am going to put in my time and resources into turning this idea into a business – a profitable one at that”. This decision could also mean many sleepless nights, longer work hours (with no pay whatsoever in the beginning), anxiety disorders, depression, blood pressure issues and PTSD in most cases (it takes a bucket of bravery!).
However, while the guts to embark on the journey is to be praised, having the guts isn’t good enough. It is a popularly known fact that 90% of all businesses fail (and this is not an exaggeration) and to build a business that is among the 10% of businesses that succeed, requires a lot more than just courage.
So, what then does it take to become a successful entrepreneur? What character trait do you need to develop to become an actual entrepreneur and not just a wannabe who leaves behind a pile of failed business ventures?
As with any other thing in life, it takes more than one trait, habit and principle to succeed but as with every other thing in life too, there are cardinal traits, habits and principles which form the foundation of the requirements and developing those cardinal traits, will give rise to the other traits and habits that are required.
What then is the cardinal trait required to be a successful entrepreneur?
It takes a perfect blend of humility and unapologetic confidence to succeed as an entrepreneur and no, we are not talking about the Bible’s “get slapped on one side of the face and turn the other cheek” type of humility, we are talking about the type of humility that will make you look at an idea you’ve loved and nurtured for months or maybe years, and decide to kill it off because data has confirmed that there is no market for it.
While it takes humility to dump or shelf an idea that is not working, it takes confidence to use the data obtained to come up with and invest in an idea that fits into a market. It takes humility to realize no one man is able to build a successful venture and confidence to realize that the fate of the business lies in your hands. It takes humility to take harsh criticism from customers, investors or partners with grace and it takes confidence to approach another customer, investor or partner to try and score a deal or sale. It takes humility to take feedback and suggestions for customers and employees and confidence to use those feedback and suggestions to make your product or service better.
Without humility, confidence grows into arrogance and narcissism. It grows into an obsession over one’s importance, idea and way of getting things done and thus, clouds objective judgement and decision making which thereby leads to the death of the business.
Without confidence, humility deteriorates to low self-esteem and self-worth. This stops the individual from trying any new ideas, looking for customers, investors & partners and believing it is possible for the individual to succeed as the individual deems himself ‘inadequate’.
Striking a balance between humility and confidence is the key to becoming a successful and valuable entrepreneur and thankfully, both characters can be developed through self-awareness and training.