Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurial spirit—it’s a phrase you might see in some job ads. Granted, your track record might not look like Mark Zuckerberg’s, Lori Greiner’s, or Richard Branson’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate successful entrepreneurs at work.
Put simply, awesome employees and successful entrepreneurs have more than a few traits in common—and employers are eager to hire such people. Being a self-starter can make you very desirable.
“Regardless of who writes the paycheck, we all need to work as if we work for ourselves,” says Belinda Plutz, a career coach at New York City–based Career Mentors Inc.
Develop these nine qualities of an entrepreneur to help set yourself apart from the average worker.
Hard-working business owners are incredibly motivated to succeed. Adopting this mindset—and being able to demonstrate your motivation to an employer—is crucial, says Karen Litzinger, a career coach in Pittsburgh. “You need to bring enthusiasm to everything you do at your job,” Litzinger says.
Fortunately, showing you’re highly motivated is simple: “You have to show up to work every day with a positive attitude,” Plutz says. “Employers want to see you’re passionate.”
No matter what industry you’re in, employers want workers with out-of-the-box ideas, Litzinger says. “They want employees to be able to not only carry out assignments, but also come up with better ways of doing things,” she says.
That’s why it’s important to be creative—to always be thinking of new ways you can improve your company’s workflow, productivity, and bottom line.
Persuasiveness can make you a better negotiator, which gives you an edge when going after a plum assignment, raise, or promotion, says career coach Phyllis Mufson.
“There are times when you are going to need to convince a client, a co-worker, or your boss to take certain actions, so you need to be persuasive” when presenting your ideas, Litzinger says.
Successful entrepreneurs always keep one eye on the big picture, and this ability can make you a better employee. “Vision is about strategic planning,” Litzinger says.
Can you see what direction the industry is going? Can you identify challenges for your company? Can you tackle your day-to-day job responsibilities, while staying focused on long-term goals and initiatives?
You have to be able to adapt to changes in the workforce. “You may be hired for a specific set of skills, but it’s important to be able to shift as needed,” Litzinger says.
You want to be someone that your boss can go to in a pinch, so be prepared to tackle work that’s outside your job description. It’s also important to be an early adopter of new technology and keep your skills current, Litzinger says.
“Every employer wants to grow their business, which often involves risk and change,” says Litzinger. Translation: Don’t be afraid to take risks when pursuing new clients, for example, or testing a new product. (One caveat: Make sure you have your boss’ buy-in before taking a risk.)
Like an entrepreneur, you have to be able to adapt to change and solve problems as they arise, Mufson says. A good team player can shift their priorities to help out whenever the team needs assistance. Thus, flexibility means being receptive to other people’s needs, opinions, and ideas and being open-minded to feedback from your manager.
Do you exercise sound judgment under pressure? When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have room to procrastinate—and the same is true for employees. “You have to be able to take action when needed,” Litzinger explains. You must know how to prioritize tasks and make decisions quickly. (It helps to be organized.)