Being an entrepreneur is a challenging and rewarding journey, but it's not for everyone.
In this article, we'll explore the essential traits that successful entrepreneurs possess. You'll learn how to evaluate yourself against these traits and determine if you have what it takes to run your own business.
1. Unleash Your Vision
Your vision is the lifeblood of your entrepreneurial journey. It's the driving force that shapes your goals, motivates your actions, and ultimately defines your success.
To harness the power of your vision, you need to dive deep and make it crystal clear. Let's explore how to craft a compelling vision for your business and yourself.
Make It Meaningful
A clear vision is the foundation of your entire entrepreneurial game plan. It serves as the beacon that lights the way for you and your team, ensuring everyone is moving towards a shared goal.
Think about the leaders you admire, like MLK, Walt Disney, or Steve Jobs. They all had powerful visions that inspired and guided their actions. Your vision doesn't have to be as grand, but it needs to be meaningful to you and your business.
Make It Personal
To make your vision truly impactful, you need to connect with it on a personal level.
Reflect on what you truly want from your entrepreneurial journey. Is it more time with your family? A chance to make a difference in your community? Or perhaps building a legacy for future generations?
Whatever it is, make sure your vision aligns with your values and desires.
Make It Actionable
Many businesses develop a vision only to see it gather dust on a shelf, forgotten and unused.
Don't fall into this trap. Integrate your vision into your daily operations and use it as a constant reminder of your goals and aspirations.
Keep your vision front and center, and let it guide your decisions and actions every step of the way.
As you craft your vision, think back to the successful people you identified earlier.
What made their visions so powerful? How did their clarity and direction fuel their achievements?
Learn from their examples. Then incorporate those lessons into your own vision.
When you make your vision meaningful, personal, and actionable, you'll have a powerful tool to guide you through the challenges and triumphs of your journey.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Payal Kadakia (ClassPass)
Payal Kadakia, the founder and CEO of ClassPass, has always been driven by her passion for dance and her desire to make a positive impact on people's lives. Her journey as an entrepreneur exemplifies the power of a clear and meaningful vision, as well as the importance of aligning vision with personal values and goals.
Payal's vision for ClassPass was born out of her experience as a fitness enthusiast. One day, she tried to book a ballet class in New York City. She realized there was no easy way to discover and book fitness classes, and she saw an opportunity to solve this problem. She came up with a vision to create a platform that would make it simple for people to find and book fitness classes, while also helping people explore new activities.
Payal’s vision was meaningful. She understood the power of dance to connect people and to allow them to express their identities.
Her vision was also personal. Her love for dance and her desire to help others discover the joy of movement were central to her mission.
Finally, her vision was actionable. She launched ClassPass in 2013, offering users access to a wide variety of fitness classes through a monthly subscription. ClassPass quickly gained traction and expanded to thousands of locations across the globe. By 2020, ClassPass achieved "unicorn status" with a valuation of $1 billion.
Payal believes that the biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful people is execution. She says that while ideas are common, the ability to get things done, work hard, solve problems, and get your hands dirty is what sets successful people apart. Her journey as an entrepreneur shows how a clear and meaningful vision can guide and motivate strong execution and lead to success.
2. Communicate with Confidence
Your ability to communicate your vision with confidence and conviction is crucial for inspiring others to join you on your entrepreneurial journey.
A powerful vision can be transformative, but it's only when you can effectively convey it to others that it truly comes to life.
Let's delve into the art of communicating your vision and motivating others to take action.
Open Your Vision to Feedback
Sharing your vision requires opening yourself up to scrutiny, judgment, and criticism.
Start by discussing your vision with those closest to you. These are people who can be both supportive and constructively critical.
Gauge how your vision sounds and whether you can share it with pride and confidence.
Once you get input from trusted sources, take time to adjust your vision as you see fit.
Communicate with Conviction
Reflect on the leaders you admire. Did they share their vision openly and confidently? Were they able to stand before others, outline a future direction, confront skeptics, and persevere?
Learn from their approach and adapt it to your communication style.
Your ability to confidently communicate your vision is paramount to your success as an entrepreneur. By refining your communication skills, you'll be able to rally others behind your vision and turn it into a reality.
Inspire Loyalty and Dedication
Think about a time when you worked hard for someone else, driven by a belief in the vision they shared.
A team’s passion and dedication are powerful forces that can propel a business forward.
Now, it's your turn to inspire that same level of loyalty and enthusiasm in the people you recruit and hire.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Aarjav Trivedi (Ridecell)
Aarjav Trivedi, as the CEO of Ridecell, is driving the digital transformation of fleet operations with a vision of unparalleled efficiency and sustainability. Through Ridecell's innovative platform, Trivedi aims to create "self-acting" fleets that automatically resolve issues and optimize utilization, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable transportation ecosystem.
As CEO, Aarjav has demonstrated a keen ability to communicate with conviction, rallying his team and partners behind Ridecell's vision. Recognizing that ong-term partnerships are essential to the company's success, he works diligently to establish relationships with fleets around the globe.
Aarjav’s ability to communicate his vision with confidence and conviction has inspired loyalty and dedication among his team and partners. Aarjav understands the importance of opening his vision to feedback, and he has fostered a culture of innovation and collaboration at Ridecell, where new ideas are welcomed and valued.
Aarjav is a forward-thinking entrepreneur whose confident communication and unwavering dedication to his vision have propelled Ridecell’s success. Aarjav shows us that when you communicate your vision with passion, you can make amazing things happen.
3. Set Your Timetable for Success
Establishing a timetable for your goals is essential for turning your vision into reality. By setting deadlines and milestones, you create a sense of urgency and accountability that drives progress.
Let's explore how to effectively set a timetable for achievement and ensure you stay on track.
Turn Vision into Action with Deadlines
Great leaders not only share inspiring visions but also set concrete deadlines for realizing them.
A timetable serves as a powerful motivator and helps to turn aspirations into tangible achievements.
Remember President John F. Kennedy's commitment to putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade? That bold deadline fueled the progress that ultimately made the vision a reality.
Urgency drives progress.
By setting a timetable for your vision, you transform it from a dream into a plan with clear steps and deadlines.
Track Progress to Hold Yourself Accountable
As an entrepreneur, it's crucial to hold yourself and others accountable to the deadlines you set.
A clear timetable helps to ensure that your vision is more than just wishful thinking. It will guide you to take decisive steps towards realizing your vision.
Assess Your Progress with Milestones
Recognizing progress can sometimes be challenging, especially when working towards long-term goals.
Setting milestones along your journey helps you measure your progress, celebrate your achievements, and stay motivated.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Whitney Wolfe Herd (Bumble)
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of the dating app Bumble. With a vision to disrupt traditional dating norms, Whitney set out to create a platform where individuals could establish equitable and healthy relationships. Her app, Bumble, prioritizes women's safety and empowerment by allowing women to make the first move.
Whitney set clear deadlines and milestones for achieving her goals, transforming her aspirations into tangible achievements. Whitney experienced internet harassment early in her career. Rather than succumbing to anxiety, Whitney used her experience as inspiration to create a kinder, more respectful online space for women.
As Bumble grew from a small team operating out of a two-bedroom apartment to a publicly traded company, Whitney recognized the importance of holding herself and her team accountable to the deadlines and milestones they set. She was honest about her strengths and weaknesses, and she assembled a diverse team of subject-matter experts to complement her skills in marketing and branding.
Whitney works to achieve work-life balance and mental well-being, setting her apart from the "hustle culture" often associated with entrepreneurship. At Bumble, she implemented unlimited paid time off and company-wide weeks off to support employees' mental health. Whitney believes that kindness is power, and she created a culture at Bumble that reflects her platform’s principles of openness, diversity, accountability, and kindness.
Whitney Wolfe Herd's achievements have earned her widespread recognition, including being named to TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, Forbes "30 Under 30" list, the Bloomberg 50, and InStyle's 50 Women Who Are Changing the World. Her rapid journey serves as a testament to the power of setting a timetable for success.
4. Turn Setbacks into Learning Opportunities
Setbacks are inevitable in any entrepreneur’s journey. The key to success lies in viewing these challenges as opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow.
Here's how to embrace the bumps in the road and turn them into valuable lessons for your business.
Just as you wouldn't give up on reaching your destination when faced with a closed road, don't let setbacks in your business journey deter you from pursuing your vision.
Adapt your approach, find new routes, and stay focused on your end goal.
Iterate and Improve
When you encounter a setback, it's essential to examine the reasons behind it and learn from the experience.
Did your marketing campaign fail to deliver results? If so, analyze what went wrong and try a different approach next time.
Don't let one failure define your entire journey. Instead, use it as an opportunity to refine your strategies and grow stronger.
Stay Focused on Solutions
Successful entrepreneurs focus on finding solutions, not dwelling on setbacks.
When one approach doesn't work, pivot and try another.
Keep your eyes on the prize and maintain your belief in your vision.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tristan Walker (Walker & Company)
Tristan's journey began with a realization that the health and beauty market lacked companies that focused on the needs of people of color. Drawing from his own frustrations and experiences, he founded Walker & Company Brands, including its most famous brands, Bevel and FORM Beauty, with a mission to make health and beauty simple for people of color.
Tristan’s approach to business is characterized by a relentless pursuit of solutions and a willingness to turn setbacks into learning opportunities. He built partnerships, tweaked marketing strategies, and stayed focused on his end goal of creating brands that resonated with an underserved market.
In 2018, Procter & Gamble acquired Walker & Company Brands. Today, Tristan envisions a bright future for retail, one that is centered around experiences rather than mere transactions. His story shows the enormous potential we unlock when we embrace challenges and learn from them.
5. Dare to Be Different
Taking the path less traveled can be challenging, but it's often what sets successful entrepreneurs apart.
Standing out from the crowd means embracing the risks and potential rejections, all in pursuit of your vision.
Let's explore how daring to be different can fuel your entrepreneurial success.
Face Skepticism with Courage
Making unconventional choices can be met with skepticism or even ridicule from those around you. Friends and family may doubt your decisions, but don't let their doubts hold you back.
Embrace the change. Stay true to your vision, even when you face adversity.
Understand Calculated Risks
Successful entrepreneurs know the difference between taking calculated risks and making reckless decisions.
Calculated risks are informed choices, grounded in research and planning. They’re risks, but they’re not risky.
Embrace calculated risks as part of your journey, because they're essential for growth and innovation.
Pursuing your vision will come with its share of obstacles, but your ability to overcome these challenges will determine your success.
Stay committed to your goals, and be prepared to face adversity with resilience and determination.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Emily Weiss (Glossier)
When Emily Weiss launched Glossier in 2014, she faced skepticism. Starting a beauty brand from scratch in a saturated market was no small feat, and many questioned her decision. However, Emily had the courage to stay true to her vision of a beauty brand that prioritized real people, authentic conversations, and minimalist products.
Glossier's direct-to-consumer model was a significant departure from traditional beauty industry practices, and Emily leveraged social media and her popular beauty blog, Into the Gloss, to gather valuable consumer insights that shaped her first few products. She spoke of "democratizing" beauty and created a direct feedback loop with customers, inviting them to Glossier's offices for their opinions on products. This innovative approach helped Glossier amass a cult-like following, with over 60,000 people signing up to be notified when sold-out products were back in stock.
Emily faced adversity with resilience. Glossier faced criticism from retail employees over their treatment during the pandemic, prompting Emily to apologize and pledge to "get it right." Sales were down 26 percent in 2021, and the company laid off dozens of corporate staff members. Glossier also faced pressure to diversify its products and address the needs of customers with darker skin tones.
In May 2022, Emily Weiss announced that she would be stepping down as CEO of Glossier. She stated, "I will always be Glossier's founder. But a CEO is the champion that a company looks to, to lead it into tomorrow."
Glossier's success accelerated the creation of an ecosystem of direct-to-consumer beauty brands. Her journey with Glossier shows the power of daring to be different.
6. Get Going and Keep Improving
Don't let the pursuit of perfection hold you back. "Good enough" can propel you towards success.
Learn how to get started. Then continuously improve as you move forward.
Unleash Your Potential
In many professions, striving for perfection is the norm. But as an entrepreneur, waiting for the perfect idea or moment could mean missing out on opportunities.
Instead, focus on finding a "good enough" idea. Then take action to make it better over time.
Accept that there will be bumps along the way. Entrepreneurs understand that no business plan is perfect and that unexpected challenges are part of the journey.
Learn from imperfections, grow, and adapt.
Your role as a business owner isn't to create a perfect business. Your role is to actively drive your business toward your goals.
Success comes from a combination of activity, effort, and courage. Be prepared to refine your approach as you gain experience and learn from your mistakes.
Get started with what you have and continuously improve to drive your business forward.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Alli Webb (Drybar)
When Alli first dreamed up Drybar, she didn't sit around waiting for the stars to align. She took her "good enough" concept and ran with it, launching the first Drybar salon in L.A.'s Brentwood neighborhood in 2010. But Alli quickly realized that she and her co-founders were in uncharted territory. "We were not ready; we were making all sorts of mistakes," she admits. But Alli's laser focus on a niche market—blowouts and styling—gave her the edge she needed to seize the opportunity and thrive.
The road to success wasn't without its bumps. Alli's obsession with creating the perfect "Drybar experience" led to some early challenges, like hair dryer cords that weren't long enough and mirrors that didn't align with her vision for the "big reveal." But Alli didn't let these setbacks get her down. Instead, she embraced the imperfections, learned from them, and refined her business model. She even made sure that the "bartenders" (a.k.a. receptionists) greeted customers with warmth and made them feel like they belonged. "Everything in Drybar is very intentional," Alli says.
Alli's unwavering commitment to continuous improvement has been a driving force behind Drybar's success. With nearly 150 salons and a $100 million valuation, Drybar has become a nationwide sensation. Alli knows that her role as a business owner isn't to create a flawless business, but to actively steer it toward her goals. And she's done just that. Now, with her new venture, Squeeze, Alli is bringing the same attention to detail and customer experience, but with a more mature and relaxed approach.
Even in the face of challenges, Alli remains optimistic, taking time to reflect on her next moves and encouraging her customers to prioritize self-care. By getting started and never stopping the pursuit of improvement, Alli Webb has transformed Drybar into a brand that's truly one of a kind.
7. Commit to Continual Learning
To thrive as an entrepreneur, you need to commit to ongoing learning. It's not just about formal education; it's about staying informed and growing both personally and professionally.
Go Beyond Degrees
Don't limit your concept of learning to academic pursuits.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the value of broadening their knowledge beyond formal education. They're always looking for ways to improve their skills and stay informed in various areas of their businesses.
Learning Never Ends
Recognize that you'll never know everything, and that's okay. Embrace the journey of constant learning and self-improvement.
When you encounter gaps in your knowledge, take the initiative to fill them through reading, attending workshops, or seeking mentorship.
Learn from Experience
Business lessons are everywhere.
Treat every business experience as an opportunity for growth. Whether you're reading a book, attending a conference, or tackling a new challenge, you'll constantly learn and refine your skills as an entrepreneur.
Compare Yourself to Your Heroes
Think about the successful leaders you admire. How do they compare to your own traits?
After you reflect on this, identify areas where you can grow.
Remember, everyone has similar traits to some degree. It's about leveraging your good (and “bad”) traits effectively.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Arlan Hamilton (Backstage Capital)
Arlan had no formal education in finance or tech, but that didn't stop her from learning about the tech ecosystem, recognizing the funding disparities in the industry, and pursuing her passion for supporting underrepresented founders. As she puts it, she became "semi-obsessed with the world of startups."
Arlan's diverse background also reflects her commitment to learning. She has worked as a tour manager, indie magazine founder, and podcast host. All these experiences gave her a unique perspective, which fuels her work today.
Arlan focuses on global impact. She likes to ask, "What changes the game? What saves lives?" Whether you focus on global impact or supporting your local community, this mindset can set you apart and inspire you to put in the hard work of building a successful business.
Arlan is a case study in how you can achieve success, with or without a degree, through ongoing learning from reading, mentorships, and diverse experiences.
As you reflect on these essential traits to master, consider the successful people you admire and how they embody these qualities.
Assess yourself honestly and determine which traits you already possess and which ones you need to develop further.
The journey to entrepreneurship is challenging. By developing the right mindset, skills, and traits, you’ll position yourself to turn your dreams into reality.