Entrepreneurs are a peculiar species of people – they confidently take risks, create new ventures, and sometimes even make money from their businesses!
If you fancy yourself an entrepreneur, here’s a simple test: Which of these four psychological qualities do you possess in abundance?
- Optimism – you always see the glass half full
- Discipline – you do the things that have to be done, even if they’re boring or repetitive
- Persistence – you have a high level of drive, and can stick at things
- Emotionally robust – you can cope with tough news
Now here’s the good/bad news: If you don’t have all four of these characteristics, chances are you’re not going to be a successful entrepreneur.
Truth is you need these qualities because entrepreneurs face big challenges constantly. At any one time, they are juggling the following range of major activities:
Entrepreneurs have to plan the creation and delivery of their offerings (the products or services they are selling).
Trying to be unique in a crowded marketplace, where it seems every idea has already been thought of, takes an almost blind optimism. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart or doubters.
Entrepreneurs understand the importance of marketing.
A painful lesson I learned when running my own business making corporate training video packages was this: however much time, energy and money you spend on developing your offering, you will need to spend the same amount on marketing it. Ouch!
Clients need to find out about your products and/or services and then be motivated to spend their money on them. Whether it’s advertising, using social media, hosting events or dropping leaflets into letterboxes, a marketing campaign is crucial.
But marketing is hard and it never ends. It requires high levels of discipline to keep at it.
Care for customers
Entrepreneurs need to be customer-centric. The business challenge doesn’t end once you’ve got the customer walking through the door, or placing an order online. The quality of the experience they have is vital. So, do their questions get answered promptly? Are you flexible, courteous, efficient? Is your product reliable, easy to use? Does it do what it promises?
Persistence involves sticking to things even when the going gets tough, like when dealing with unhappy customers. The temptation is to let them go. But we know that unhappy customers tell on average 10 to 20 other people about the bad experience they’ve had. Better to turn them around by listening intently, acknowledging the issue, apologising if necessary and rectifying any problem promptly. If possible, give a ‘freebie’ to the customer as a way of saying sorry. We know from research they will then tell, on average, 5 people how wonderful you are.
So, show persistence to turn unhappy customers into ambassadors for your business.
Focus on the figures
Finally, a successful entrepreneur has to keep an eye on the bottom line.
I know a young guy who finally realised his dream of opening an Italian restaurant. But try asking him how it’s going financially and he literally doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to know.
It amazes me how many would-be business people don’t keep track of expenses and income and just blindly believe or hope it will all work out in the end. You need to be emotionally robust and willing to face the reality of how your enterprise is tracking.