If there is any one thing every new entrepreneur would love to know, it will be the key qualities of famous successful entrepreneurs. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook said ” If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.”
We do not need to go very far in our search for a successful entrepreneur. Have you ever read or follow the story of some Gambian entrepreneurs? Here are 3 names I happen to follow:
Abdoulie Touray of Sahel Group
In his interview with Standard News Paper, this was what Mr. Touray said :
” I derive satisfaction from giving back to society because I believe that society has done a lot for all of us. We live in an interdependent world and I think the most formidable attribute or asset you can give to a human being is knowledge.”
Kumba Daffeh Kah of Tresor
Ms Daffeh is the CEO of “Tresor, the Closet and Beyond” a leading high-end fashion store in The Gambia and USA. I do not know what inspired her to start a business, but If you follow her Facebook posts, you will notice her passion for education, empowerment and positive interest in other people’s development. She is also the COO of KEO Foundation.
Muhammed Jah of Q-Group
Mr. Jah asked himself, ‘How come we have a consultant coming all the way from Europe just to teach our people how to type a letter on a computer? Yes, this was one of the key questions that motivated him to set up QuantumNet as explained to BBC series African Dream.
Did you notice one thing these three people have in common? Their passion to give, help, solve and develop others. Trust me, no matter what type of business you intend to start, unless you have a strong passion and commitment, you cannot be a successful entrepreneur. If you want to start a business, you have to assess if you are prepared to run such business. There is no wrong or right approach but self-assessment help you think about the critical aspects before you invest your money and time. For example do you have the relevant skills and experiences? Do you have the self-confidence, discipline, health, honesty or motivation to your start your own business? Will you start the business on part-time or full-time?
To assess yourself in details, read and compare yourself to these 17 qualities of famous successful entrepreneurs.
1. Knowledge and Skill
Do you have the relevant skill that can convert your business idea into solution and revenue? If you want to start a software developing company, you should understand the software business model and coding.
2. Risk Taker
You must willing to take some risk. Unfortunately, there are lots of uncertainties in a new business. You’ll need to prepare for the responsibilities of whatever happened to your business. Entrepreneurs are risk takers ready to explore the future of uncertainty. Successful entrepreneurs will risk time and money on an uncertain outcome, but they also keep resources and plans for dealing with such risk. When evaluating risk, a successful entrepreneur will ask herself, is this risk worth the cost of my career, time and money? And, what will I do if this venture does not work?
Those who are not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali
3. Relationship Manager
As the CEO / President of your firm, you will meet different stakeholders including customers, vendors, employees, professionals such as lawyers, accountants, bankers etc. Some customers can be demanding whiles vendor and consultants can sometimes be unreliable. Can you effectively manage such relationship ? Think about it.
4. Do you have some Savings
This is very critical for early stage startups. You may not be receiving any salaries in the early life of the business and your personal bills will still come. That is why most expert advice that you save at least 6 months living expenses in addition to your startup cost. Savings is even more important if you will resign from a full-time job to start your own shop.
5. Work Overtime without pay
Yes, there is no 8 am to 5 pm anymore. Sometimes you will have to work till 1 a.m. for you to meet deadlines. I am not also proposing that work life balance is not important at this stage, but researchers have found that many world successful entrepreneurs works about 60 hours a week. Again, this long hour work can be seen in the early startups.
You have to understand that some people may not urge you to pursue this journey. As mentioned earlier there is a risk in starting a new business venture, and that’s what they will tell you too. If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen.
7. Persistence and perseverance
Successful entrepreneurs inevitably face challenges and even setbacks, during their quest for business success. Once you put your mind to something, you have to stick to it. Don’t just give up, because failure is an exams which many successful entrepreneurs have taken over and over again. You may have difficulty obtaining the financing to get started or your initial marketing efforts may prove unsuccessful. You may have to face starting all over or even closing some businesses. Successful entrepreneurship requires that you persevere and pursue your idea even when your situation appears challenging.
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” -Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple.
Time management, cost management are discipline issues in all types of business. Successful entrepreneurs are always conscious about time, spending and relationship management. As an entrepreneur you must have a high level of self-discipline. Unlike the typical work environment, there is no boss watching over you, and nobody forces you to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.
9. Are you Flexible
You must be flexible and willing to change course when things are not going your way? Flexibility does not mean given up, but the ability to adjust yourself to the situations.
10. Practical Experience
Do you have any experience on the business you want to do? Or are you ready to learn. Mind you, possessing certain qualification is different from practical application of the knowledge (experience). You can tap into the experience of other successful entrepreneurs through mentoring.
11. Multiple Business Skills
If you start a small business, you will likely be doing most of the office jobs such as accounting, sales, marketing, and so on? Multiple skills can be very helpful for a one-man shop. If you are running a small fashion shop, it is vital to understand how to market your products or record transactions.
12. Can you handle pressure?
Yes, pressure! To start and grow business is not easy and that is the reason many people associates startups with hard work and perseverance. Successful entrepreneurs also goes through business, social and sometimes health issues.
13. Can you make your own decision?
You can have access to lot of consultants and mentors but the decision making in your business still stays with you as the CEO. You will be making decision under pressure and often quickly. For example you may be required to fire a staff or reject an offer from your customers.
Most successful entrepreneurs always want to listen and learn from others. They ask for advice and beliefs that others should be free to express their views and that the value of others’ knowledge should be recognized. When you are receptive to new ideas, you will learn a lot.
You should be willing to talk and be friendly with other people. Take interest in other people’s life such as customers, staff etc.
16. Don’t forget that Family Support is very important when starting your first business. There are lots of emotional, physiological and sometimes financial stress at the beginning.
17. Others – Positive, logical, patient, sociable, hardworking, communicator, quality, focus etc.
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” – Zig Ziglar
How does Successful entrepreneurs handle their skill gaps
It is very rare for one person to have all these 17 qualities at the beginning of the journey, however there are few things you can do, to handle any limitation:
- Learn to improve yourself – read books, join weekend classes, attend seminars and other relevant courses etc.
- Employ someone to do it for you – If you have time or skill constrain on a key activity, you can employ someone to do the task for you e.g account clerk, sales attendant.
- Outsource the function – Functions such as computer repairs, marketing, promotion or tax filling can be outsourced to a professional firm. This will make sure that you focus on the core business activities.
These are few of the important qualities of successful entrepreneurs, however you must remember that your burning desire, discipline and sacrifice are very critical to successfully transform your idea into reality.
We would love to hear your opinion on these qualities.