– We can safely limit ‘entrepreneur’ to someone who undertakes creating a new for-profit or non-profit venture.
– We can also focus on personal qualities that make entrepreneurs successful – meaning they achieve (or steadily move closer toward) whatever purpose they set out to achieve.
Successful entrepreneurs have a very specific tension that has become a passion (as not all tensions do). That passion is a tension between POSITIVE CHANGE and STABILITY.
This will be clearer in the description of personal qualities of successful entrepreneurs:
1. PASSION FOR POSITIVE CHANGE – This isn’t (just) about change in one’s own life. It’s not as petty as “I need to get out of this place” or “I need a job” or “I need more money.” Though many new business pursuits grow out of these desires, and most fail if self-centered change is the only object of passion.
Successful entrepreneurs are motivated by improving circumstances at a broader level. Helping individuals attain their greatest potential… Making communities or economies stronger… Creating new or better products to solve existing problems or fill existing gaps… Helping organizations function efficiently and profitably… Addressing global problems, such as poverty or crime or government waste, etc.
It is pretty much safe to state that all successful entrepreneurs are driven by a passion for some sort of change at these levels – change that extends beyond self, change that has positive impact on part of the rest of the world, change that is at least partially selfless.
2. RISK AVERSION – Contrary to common wisdom, entrepreneurs are not risk addicts. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs are risk-averse. They like stability and security. But they come to terms with the fact that no positive change comes without risk. Because they _are_ “positive change addicts,” they’d rather manage the risks themselves.
3. SELF-AWARE, NOT INDEPENDENT– Success comes from a brutal honesty with yourself about both what you do well and what you’re willing to do, and a willingness to engage others to fill in your gaps. This is a deep commitment to only focus on your areas of excellence, not just your capability. If someone else can do it just as well, let them do it. Use coaches, consultants, and partners where needed. Focus on your own core.
4. PASSIONATE ABOUT RESULTS – But this results-passion is subjected to the passion for positive change, risk-aversion, and self-awareness. From those come strategies, from strategies come decisions, and decisions are acted upon to generate measurable results.
The tension between positive change and risk aversion is alleviated through self-awareness, partnerships, and results-orientation.
Incidentally INTRApreneurs – those who experience this same tension but for whatever reason remain in established organizations – will succeed if given a great deal of freedom and influence to do these very things.
Every for-profit and non-profit organization – even the largest international corporations – began as an entrepreneur’s dream. The successful ones incorporated the above. It is unfortunate that as they grow, and as they move further away from the original dreamer, many lose these core attributes.