Blog | Entrepreneurship

3 Essential Entrepreneurship Characteristics Needed to be Successful

To most people, entrepreneurs are a little bit crazy. But then again, it’s all a matter of perspective. To me, it’s crazy to deny yourself an opportunity to pursue your dreams because of your fears.

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Today, November 16, 2021, is National Entrepreneur’s Day. So I thought I’d write a bit about my entrepreneurial journey and three qualities every entrepreneur needs to succeed.

I launched my nylon and Velcro surfer wallet business in 1976. Two friends and I started it from scratch, part-time, while working full-time for Xerox. I knew I could not stay with Xerox for long because the business was beginning to take off and more and more time was required.

For me, the hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business was dealing with what my friends, family and coworkers would say or think. For me, that was the hardest job of all.

Are entrepreneurs crazy?

I can still remember telling a few of the people at the office that I would soon have to quit my job at Xerox and run the surfer wallet business full-time. “You’re crazy!” said one of the more senior salespersons. “You’re going to fail.”

“You know how many people want to work for Xerox?” said another senior salesperson. “You have a great job, great benefits, good pay and lots of promotion opportunities. If you keep your nose clean, someday you could be a sales manager. Why would you risk losing such a great job?”

“You’ll be back,” said another salesperson. “I’ve seen countless people like you. People who think they’re hot shots. They leave the company, fail and come back with their tail between their legs…if they have any tail left.”

The group of six salesmen and two saleswomen laughed with that comment and went on talking about the new copier the company was coming out with, and after that they talked about who was going to win the baseball game that night. I realized I had talked to the wrong people about my business and about my dreams. I realized I was talking to people who would pull me down rather than push me up.

Entrepreneurs have a different mindset

How many times have you heard people say some of the following statements?

  • “I wish I could quit my job.”

  • “I’m tired of going from job to job.”

  • “I wish I could make more money, but I can’t afford to quit and start all over with a new company. And I don’t want to go back to school and learn a new profession.”

  • “I’m working hard, but the only people getting rich are the owners of the company.”

  • “I’m working hard, but I’m not getting ahead financially. I’ve got to start thinking about retirement.”

  • “I can’t keep working this hard. I’m getting too old for this.”

These are often statements made by individuals trapped in the employee or self-employed quadrant of the CASHFLOW Quadrant. Deep down, many people want more than they have in life, not just more money, but also more freedom, more control, and more happiness.

Entrepreneurs are able to not just acknowledge these feelings but to also do something about them. They really do quit their job to follow a dream, and they don’t look to another job to bring the fulfillment they’re looking for.

In short, they have a different mindset—and they act on it.

Why I really worked for Xerox

The reality is that I didn’t work at Xerox because I wanted a safe career. In fact, I’d given up very lucrative career paths as a pilot or a merchant marine in order to take the job at Xerox...making significantly less.

So, I joined Xerox to learn one thing—how to sell. Why did I do this? “If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you’re going to have to learn to sell,” rich dad said. It was his advice and I’m glad I followed it.

I still remember my first sales call on the street along Waikiki Beach. After spending about an hour working up the nerve to knock on the door, I finally got in to see the owner of a small tourist trinket store. He was an older gentleman who had seen new salespeople like me for years.

After I stammered and sweated through my memorized sales pitch on the benefits of Xerox copiers, all he did was laugh at me.

“Son,” he said, “You’re the worst I have ever seen. But keep going because if you can get over your fears, your world will be very bright. If you quit, you may wind up like me, sitting behind a counter 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, waiting for tourists to come in. I wait here because I am too afraid to go out and do what you’re doing. Get through your fears and your world will get smaller every year.”

To this day, I give thanks to that wise older man. I went on to become the top salesman at Xerox, and when that happened, I quit. My sales skills helped me scale my Velcro wallet business to a million dollar enterprise. Unfortunately, I had a lot to learn about running a business, so that business would eventually fail. But even that helped me to be a better entrepreneur.

All this is to say that entrepreneurs have a different mindset than most people, which is why they succeed. If you are thinking about starting your own business, I recommend learning the same entrepreneurial skills my rich dad taught me and that I honed at Xerox.

Entrepreneurial sales skill #1: Overcoming fear

Learning to sell was extremely important for me. It helped me overcome my fear of rejection and communicate the value of a product and a service. Just the act of entering that tourist trinket store many, many years ago was an act of overcoming fear and becoming a better person. Each sales call, each rejection, each win...was a lesson in itself in overcoming fear.

If you want to start your own business, you will need to be able to overcome many fears and in order to gain traction, you will need to be able to communicate why what you’re doing brings value, both quickly and expertly. This applies to future customers, investors, partners, employees and so much more. No one follows someone who clearly is afraid. No one buys from someone who is afraid. Overcoming fear is essential to success.

Entrepreneurial sales skill #2: Public speaking

If you want to grow your business, you need to be able to speak in front of groups of people—sometimes very large ones—and keep them interested in what you have to say.

More than anything, business leadership involves being a great speaker and presenter. If you can learn to present well in front of lots of people, you can increase your cash flow, your operations, and your capital. If you can’t, your business will not grow…and will possibly fail. Nothing prepares you better for this than consistently speaking in front of groups of people.

After getting over my fear of selling, I joined Toastmasters at my rich dad’s recommendation to learn to overcome my fear of speaking in front of large groups. When I complained, he replied, “All great leaders are great public speakers. Leaders of great businesses need to be great communicators. If you want to be a leader, you must be a speaker.”

Today, I can speak comfortably in front of tens of thousands of people in convention halls because of my training in sales and my early training from the Toastmasters organization.

Entrepreneurial sales skill #3: Communication

Among the important qualities a job in sales will teach you is the ability to communicate effectively. When my rich dad told me to get a sales job, I balked at the idea of going door to door to sell copy machines. All he said to that was, “Poor people are poor communicators.” He knew that learning to sell would make me a better communicator, which would make me a better businessman.

I am always amazed at how little time business people put into improving their overall communication skills. Whenever I find a business that is struggling, it is often a reflection of poor communication. As rich dad said, “Cash flowing into your business is in direct proportion to the communication flowing out.”

One of the reasons good communication is so important is because it allows you to meet demand better. Rich dad said, “To be a good communicator, you first need to be good at human psychology. You need to know what buttons to push. Different people have different buttons.” Key to knowing which buttons to push was listening. He said, “Many people are talking, but only a few are listening. Money goes to the best communicators.”

Beyond just meeting demand, good communication internally in your company is vital as well. Many times, by simply looking at the financial statement of your business, you can easily see which areas of the business are communicating well and which are not. When your different departments are communicating well, the business will run better and cash flow will be healthier, either in the form of increased sales or decreased costs…or both.

Develop your entrepreneurial sales skills today

In the end, being able to overcome fears, to speak well in front of others, and to communicate effectively makes you someone that others want to follow. It’s really that simple. And if you want to be a successful business owner and leader, you have to be someone that others want to follow.

As my rich dad said, “There are speakers that no one listens to, there are salespeople that cannot sell, there are advertisers that no one watches, there are entrepreneurs that cannot raise capital, and there are business leaders that no one follows. If you want to be successful in the world of business, don’t be any of those people.”

If you want help honing your skills in overcoming fear and public speaking, I encourage you to look into Rich Dad Coaching. With a good coach, you will have the advantage you need to stay motivated and push forward to achieve your goals.

Original publish date: October 21, 2014

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