Blog | Entrepreneurship

Two Key Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

Millions of people dream of quitting their job and becoming entrepreneurs. This is a noble dream, but the problem is that for most people this is only a dream and never a reality. Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? These two key characteristics are vital for having a shot at making it big.

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Have the courage to fail…

Today, there are millions of people who dream of quitting their job and becoming entrepreneurs. They want to run their own business and become rich. This is a noble dream, but the problem is that for most people this is only a dream and never a reality.

The question is, “Why do so many people fail at their dream of being an entrepreneur?”

A friend of mine came up with the best answer to this question. He says, “Entrepreneurs have two characteristics…ignorance and courage.”

You’re telling me to be ignorant…?

Yes, and no.

My friend’s answer is simple, yet profound. When he says “ignorance” is key to entrepreneurship, he’s not saying be an idiot. He is saying don’t let knowledge hold you back. For instance, kids are prone to say they want to be things like an astronaut, a pro baseball player, or the President. They lack the knowledge to know how hard it is to achieve those dreams so they don't limit them. They are ignorant in the best possible way. They still dream and believe they can achieve those dreams.

The best entrepreneurs are willfully ignorant. When they have a dream, they pursue it with passion. When others tell them it can’t be done, they ignore that advice and push forward. When their own mind tells them to quit, they ignore their negative thoughts and press on.

Why some smart people fail

The reality is that many entrepreneurs are very smart and have a lot of knowledge, but they don’t let that knowledge hold them back. They have the courage to overcome the fear that knowledge can bring.

Perhaps a story will help illustrate this.

I have a friend who is a brilliant hairstylist. When it comes to making women look beautiful, he’s a magician. For years, my friend has talked about opening his own salon. It’s a big dream, and sadly, one he’s never acted on. Instead, he still runs a single chair in a big salon. And he doesn’t even like the owner of that salon.

My friend knows the salon business, and he knows how hard it is to succeed. This knowledge holds him back from starting his own salon and achieving his dream. He lacks the courage to be an entrepreneur.

I have another friend whose wife was a flight attendant. A few years ago, she quit her job, went to school to learn how to be a hairstylist, and opened her own salon. It’s a big dream, a spectacular environment, and she has some of the best stylists in the city.

My other hairstylist friend heard about her salon and said, “How can she open a salon? She has no talent, isn’t gifted, and hasn’t trained in New York like I did. I give her a year.”

She might fail. After all, 95 percent of all businesses do fail in the first five years. But entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to statistics like that. The point of this story, however, is to show the effect of ignorance and courage on our life. One hairstylist had knowledge but lacked courage. The other lacked experience but had courage.

In the real world, courage is more important than knowledge. Ignoring negative thoughts is key to having courage. Always remember, your mind is infinite and your doubts are limiting.

Have the courage to fail

At the end of the day, an entrepreneur’s most courageous act is to embrace failure. Through failure, an entrepreneur learns the most valuable lessons about business and life. They understand and embrace the fact that you cannot be successful without failure.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to have the courage to fail. You need to be brave enough to know you don't know everything, ignore what needs to be ignored, and have the tenacity to push forward despite all odds.

If you fail, learn. Take it as an opportunity to increase your financial education and intelligence. If you succeed, relish your success. You can only know the sweet taste of victory after many bitter struggles.

What’s holding you back?

To increase your financial IQ, check out our free, financial education community here.

Original publish date: August 07, 2012

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