An entrepreneur is more than an individual with an idea. At some point or another, just about everybody has what they consider a winning business idea. The difference is that most people will not act on their idea, or will give up on it after hitting their first speed bump or realizing how difficult it is going to be to transform an idea into a real business that makes money. Which brings us to our first leadership characteristic of an entrepreneur: resilience. Resiliency in the face of those early speed bumps can get your business over that metaphorical bump in the road.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur is a familiarity with the market they plan to enter. Maybe you’ve been in the business for years working for somebody else. Maybe you’ve never participated in the field, but have spent enough to familiarizing yourself with it through personal research or by taking classes. However you do it, gaining a good degree of familiarity with the field you’re entering is essential. If you can’t even speak the language, you’re not going to go very far.
As an entrepreneur, you must always get the most out of your resources. This doesn’t mean working your employees to the bone, of course. Happy employees are usually going to be more efficient themselves. Keep everybody and everything working on task, and utilize your resources so you get the most out of them. In the early days you need to be very mindful of your spending.
An entrepreneur should also be innovative to some degree. There have been plenty of businesses that have followed the model laid out by those who came before them. But innovating does not mean releasing a new product that revolutionizes the field. It can be as simple as coming up with a new and creative way to run an aspect of your business, or a new way to perform an age-old service. Keep your mind sharp and open to new suggestions and ideas—yours or your employees’.
A willingness to take some risks is also an important characteristic of entrepreneurs. For one, starting your business is itself a risk. You’re not guaranteed success or even survival in the market, so a willingness to accept some degree of risk is necessary. Managing the risks you accept as your run your business is just as important so you don’t suddenly find yourself betting the farm.