Wondering if you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur? New research from Gallup offers a window into what separates those who launch and grow successful companies from less successful peers.
Gallup studied more than 1,000 entrepreneurs to arrive at a short list of the 10 qualities of highly successful entrepreneurs. They will be discussed in a book by Gallup chairman Jim Clifton and consultant Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal called Entrepreneurial Strengthsfinder, scheduled for release in September 2014.
Having spent much of my career talking with and writing about entrepreneurs, I have to say this is the best list I’ve seen of this kind. Here are the traits. Do they match your own?
1. Business Focus: They base decisions on the potential to turn a profit.
2. Confidence: They know themselves well and can read others.
3. Creative Thinker: They know how to turn an existing product or idea into something even better.
4. Delegator: They don’t try to do it all.
5. Determination: They battle their way through difficult obstacles.
6. Independent: They will do whatever it takes to succeed in the business.
7. Knowledge-Seeker: They constantly hunt down information that will help them keep the business growing.
8. Promoter: They do the best job as spokesperson for the business.
9. Relationship-Builder: They have high social intelligence and an ability to build relationships that aid their firm’s growth.
10. Risk-Taker: They have good instincts when it comes to managing high-risk situations.
In another study of 111 entrepreneurs in Nebraska, Gallup deduced what helped the successful ones outdistance the others by 22 percentage points in year-over-year profit growth. In this case, Gallup found that the stars were more likely to do things like (1) clearly explain the competitive advantage of their offerings to their clients, (2) keep customers in mind when making decisions about pricing and product or service development, (3) spend more time planning for growth and linking employees’ responsibilities with company goals, and (4) to fit employees into roles that suit their strengths and the company’s plans.
What if you are weak in some of these areas? Can you still make it as an entrepreneur?
Citing research showing that entrepreneurship is between 37% and 48% genetic, Gallup’s conclusion is that entrepreneurs with a natural gift for things like opportunity spotting will find it easiest to succeed but that others can compensate somewhat for a lack of inborn talent through efforts like working with coaches and getting technical assistance. And, of course, factors like skills and experience also play a role in entrepreneurial success.
One thing that struck me is that most schools are not set up to encourage kids with these entrepreneurial qualities to flourish. I have spoken with many, many entrepreneurs who said that school was a miserable experience for them and that, unable to sit still at their desks doing worksheets and the like, they felt they had driven their teachers crazy. That’s a shame, given that entrepreneurs contribute so much to American culture and ultimately create jobs for so many of their peers.
It would be exciting to see more schools recognize entrepreneurial talent early and to find ways to let future business creators flourish. A test like this could be the first step toward figuring out how to do that. Meanwhile, it’s likely to be very useful in helping many adults plan their next career move and determine if entrepreneurship is a good fit.