I hear this question a lot. People wonder, sometimes out loud: “Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?” … as if there is an omniscient sorting machine in the hospital nursery that decrees upon infants “This one will be a business owner” and “This one, worker bee forever!”
The truth is that anyone can enter into business ownership. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to turn out well.
So how do you grow into being a good entrepreneur?
Forbes published a list of the 6 Personality Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs. Calling them “personality traits” is a bit of a misnomer because it sounds, again, like something you’re either born with or not.
As I reflect on my own journey, it seems to me that these are less traits but more skills that have been cultivated over time … and with a lot of help from people around me.
So that’s the good news! The freedom afforded by business ownership is available to anyone who is willing to give themselves over to the long term process of growth and development.
There is one critical trait of successful entrepreneurs that is missing from Forbes’ list.
When I observe successful business owners, I see that they listen. Really listen. And they listen a lot.
- They listen to customers and they create opportunities for customers to share what they are dealing with and what they need.
- They listen because they humbly realize that they didn’t get where they are on their own. Advisors and employees are their constant teachers.
- They listen with intense curiosity, keeping eyes on the prize and an openness about how to achieve their goals.
So, the question really isn’t, “Is being an entrepreneur right for me?” Rather, it is “Am I willing to develop the skills and traits to be a successful entrepreneur?”