“One of these days I’m going to start my own business!”
How many times have you heard someone make this pronouncement ? Perhaps a colleague said it in response to a complaint about her boss or her working conditions. Maybe your significant other has an idea for an invention that he just knows is going to make him a millionaire. Or, perhaps you have said it because you long for the perceived freedom and flexibility that accompanies working for yourself.
Regardless of the motivation for embarking on a new business, it is important to consider that while entrepreneurship is a path that allows many people the opportunity to live out their dreams, the reality is that not everyone is up to the challenges of this less stable way of life.
If you are thinking about taking the leap into being your own boss, read on to learn some qualities you will need to possess. And, if you are already an entrepreneur, check out this list to see if there are any aspects of your personality you should be developing to boost your chances for success.
1. Risk Tolerance
Let’s start with the obvious – having a tolerance for risk is a necessity for being an entrepreneur. Working for yourself lacks the security of a regular pay check, paid vacation, benefits, and the like. And, there’s the chance that things may not turn out as well as you had hoped. If you can’t stomach the risk of potential failure, entrepreneurship is not for you.
2. Emotional Resilience
An entrepreneurial lifestyle is one that can be quite stressful. In addition to the lack of guarantees regarding income, the path can be fraught with disappointments, like products or services not taking off like you had hoped they would, losing clients, or unexpected expenses. And, unfortunately, when the buck stops with you, you’re the one who has to ultimately figure out how to solve the problems. In order to manage the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life, you will need resilience so you can move on from mistakes, setbacks, or failures without dwelling on them.
3. Learning Orientation
In addition to being able to bounce back quickly from setbacks, the ability to learn from them is important. Instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go as planned, you will be better off if you take a step back and figure out the lessons learned. Being open to feedback, willing to change direction when strategies aren’t working, and receptive to mentoring by others with more experience will increase the odds of your success. If you are not open to learning and trying new approaches, the entrepreneurial life may not be for you.
While I wouldn’t recommend being blindly optimistic, a positive attitude is a necessary ingredient for an entrepreneur. Without a sense of optimism, how will be able to put yourself out there to face possible rejection? Without optimism, how can you keep trying in the face of “no’s?” Without optimism, how can you innovate? An ability to see the glass as half full will take you far in your journey, and keep you motivated when the going gets tough.
Think being conscientious is important when you’re working for someone else? It’s even more important when you’re the person in charge. To run a successful business, you have to be self-directed and self-disciplined, with the ability to structure yourself and manage your time. Without these qualities, your ideas may remain just that – merely ideas – that aren’t being executed on.
To be a successful entrepreneur, self-awareness is essential. Knowing your strengths and areas for growth enables you to position yourself appropriately to leverage your strengths, and either work to develop in the areas in which you are weaker, or augment yourself with others who can complement you in those areas. Having allies who will tell it to you like it is will help you to guard against blind spots so you can make sure you are performing at your best.
Given the time, energy, hard work, and risk associated with being an entrepreneur, having a sense of passion for what you’re doing is a necessity. Research shows we are more productive and engaged in our work when we see it as a calling, and given the high stakes involved, having a high sense of drive and purpose about what you’re doing will gives you a sense of purpose that will help you to persist.
Finally, to keep your spirits up, reflect on these inspiring words from Mark Twain,
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”
Are you an entrepreneur or entrepreneur-to-be? What other qualities are needed for success?
Comedian Kevin Hart once said, “Laughter heals all wounds, and that’s one thing that everybody shares. No matter what you’re going through, it makes you forget about your problems. I think the world should keep laughing.”
But Hart’s words show that he’s more than just a talented comedian; in fact, he’s full of scientifically-backed wisdom. In particular, this statement shows that he has his finger on the pulse of current scientific research about laughter, and its positive effects on your health, relationships, and even your cognitive abilities.
Read on to learn some more specific reasons why you should have a good laugh as often as possible …
1. Humor can have a notably positive effect on your relationship.
Who doesn’t like to share a good laugh with their partner? Enough said.
But laughing with your significant other isn’t just fun. It’s actually a powerful force that can help strengthen your relationship. Humor can bring shared positive emotions, a feeling of connection, and defuse uncomfortable situations. In addition, one study found that in heterosexual couples, humor was associated with greater feelings of intimacy and relationship satisfaction amongst women. However, it is important to note that the type of humor associated with this is positive (supportive) humor, not the passive-aggressive humor or jabs that people sometimes use.
Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.”
This quote highlights the importance of awe, that feeling you get when you are overwhelmed by the beauty of a mountain, the miracle of birth, or a spiritual insight. You know the feeling is a good one, but you don’t quite understand it. It’s a feeling that can bring goosebumps, tears, or feelings of euphoria.
Interestingly, awe has increasingly become the subject of scientific research because of its benefits for us on both an individual and group level. For example, research has shown that experiencing awe can have a positive impact on our health; specifically, it’s linked with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Sustained high levels of cytokines are associated with poorer health such as depression, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.)
And when it comes to emotional health, awe is also a natural stress-reliever. It expands our sense of time, and makes us less prone to impatience. Research has also shown that people who experience awe on a regular basis are more inclined to be generous to strangers. In one study, students who had the awe-inspiring experience of spending a short period of time looking up at some majestic trees were more likely to help someone who had a minor accident than other students who had been looking at a building. The researchers argued that awe fills us with a feeling of connection to others.
Click here to read the rest of the article on MindBodyGreen.
“If you want something done right, do it yourself!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a client say this (or something very close to it), I would be one wealthy woman! While on the surface, this statement sounds like the kind of “take the bull by the horns” sort of self-reliance that many of us admire, the reality is that if you are a leader, this sort of approach could lead to your eventual demise.
Although delegation is a critical skill for leaders, my experience in coaching hundreds of executives across the years has shown that it is a behavior with which many leaders struggle.
Here are some of the common excuses I hear that prevent people from delegating, along with my rebuttals to these arguments:
1. “ I don’t have time”
People who make this argument express that delegating a task to an employee, checking in on progress, reviewing the person’s output, providing feedback, and having that person (potentially) do it again to correct any errors is too time-consuming. As a result, it is easier to just do it themselves.
Rebuttal: While delegating a task the first time around can be time-consuming, and you probably shouldn’t choose to do it when you have a tight timeline, the fact is that in the long run, delegating will actually save you time. The better trained your team is (as a result of having practice with delegated activities), the more you can off-load onto them. And, this will give you more time to spend on higher impact activities. So bite the bullet, and take the time to allow them to learn new skills through delegation.
2. “I can do it better”
Some leaders who have high needs for control or perfection can be reluctant to delegate for fear that the work product they get back won’t come out exactly the same as they would do it. Instead of risking this (guaranteed) outcome, they opt to do it themselves.
Rebuttal: If you’re a strong leader, you should have composed a team of people who have diverse talents and skills. As a result, you should actually respect your people enough to want to see their approach, and perhaps learn from it. Assuming that your way is the only way to accomplish an objective is likely to squelch their creativity and limit the opportunities for your horizons to be expanded.
3. “I don’t have anyone to delegate to.”
In this case, I am not talking about people who literally have no one to delegate to. Instead, I am talking about the cases of those leaders who suggest that their team lacks bench strength, and as a result, there is no one up to completing the task at hand.
Rebuttal: While this may be true in some instances, it is your job as a leader to develop your team. So, your goal should be to (a) coach the people on your team by giving them stretch assignments and/or (b) deal with those who (after being coached) are showing that they are unable to fulfill the demands of the job by repositioning them or letting them go. If you feel that you don’t have time for this, review excuse #1.
4. “I don’t want to over-burden them.”
I often hear this argument from well-meaning and compassionate leaders who, instead of asking their team to do more, would rather fall on the sword and take on everything for themselves.
Rebuttal: While this is a noble sentiment (and I’m not suggesting that you become the sort of leader who delegates everything then sits back with your feet on your desk), it may actually be holding your people back. If there are people on your team who actually want to grow into bigger jobs with more responsibility, then they will need to figure out how to prioritize, manage their time, and juggle multiple tasks. Plus, my experience has been that if you are burning the candle at both ends, but encouraging others to live perfectly balanced lives, your employees will judge expectations based on your actions as opposed to your words. In other words, they often conclude that their boss expects the same dedication and long hours that she or he is putting in, and as a result, they end up working hard anyhow. So, spread the wealth and follow the adage “many hands make light work.”
To close, consider this wise quote from legendary leadership expert, Stephen Covey, “People and organizations don’t grow much without delegation and completed staff work because they are confined to the capacities of the boss and reflect both personal strengths and weaknesses.”
Are you limiting yourself and your organization by your unwillingness to delegate? Delegate, and enjoy the contributions of everyone on your team.