What do Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder of Twitter and Square), Mark Cuban (Founder of Broadcast.com and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) and Nick Woodman (Founder and CEO of GoPro) all have in common? Perhaps nothing, or maybe, quite a bit. I don’t have all the answers, but I have met one of them and he is truly unique.
Countless studies and millions of dollars have gone into deciphering the contributing factors that make people the way they are and identify the traits that make someone successful.
The sheer numbers of factors are gargantuan; from genetics to upbringing and experiences, the possibilities are endless regarding the unique personalities of human beings. So, how do we level the playing field?
Habitual or consistent behavior.
From my travels, speaking engagements and meetings with people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds, I’ve noticed certain similarities of every successful entrepreneur. If some of these resonate with you, maybe, just maybe, you should consider taking a step toward a new and fulfilling life path. Check out these seven traits that successful entrepreneurs likely embody.
1. They have no respect for the status quo:
This is a phrase that Steve Jobs often stated when inspiring others to pursue powerful and impactful work. I can now see why. There’s a reason entrepreneurs oftentimes have a slightly negative opinion of the corporate world, with the entitlement of knowing “this is how it’s done,” or “we have to do it this way.” This kind of mentality drains entrepreneurial individuals from creativity.
Genuine entrepreneurs look at the world differently and seek to improve it — they want to see the world around them grow and flourish. This is why most people find them to be inspiring, as they represent the few people who constantly see life through a lens of what things can BECOME rather than what they ARE.
2. They have something to prove:
They have high levels of self-confidence and it’s extremely important for them to believe they are special. They work and work to accomplish and realize their dreams. In their heads and in their hearts, they take on superhero personas to venture on their quests — they have something to prove and may not even be aware of to whom they are seeking approval. But the force drives them, no matter how long it takes to achieve their dreams.
3. They think and act by themselves:
They are the free-spirited, free-flying birds amongst the uniform flock. They have a distinct way in which they do things; their own processes for working through predicaments, making decisions and not fearing the repercussions of the decisions. They are, in many ways, deviants, rebels and individualistic thinkers — characteristics that current education systems don't necessarily reward or value.
4. They absorb information that matters to them:
Information is key. Entrepreneurs are quick to pick up on things and are confident about applying learned skills and knowledge. You’ll often notice that although many entrepreneurs weren’t tremendous students in school (averaging roughly a 2.8 grade point averages), they tend to all have a common an affinity for reading. With the Internet, access to information is so readily available that there’s almost no excuse to not be able to learn something. By sixth grade, Jay-Z had a college level aptitude for reading.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, never studied astrophysics or aeronautical engineering in school and says he learned all of it from reading books independently. Mark Cuban shut himself in a room for years, working a day job then reading computer science books at night. Entrepreneurs put in the effort to learn by reading and by doing. Information is out there — it’s just a matter of you grabbing it.
5. They approach their work like an Olympic athlete:
Entrepreneurs have an obsessive, fiery passion and desire to accomplish what they do. How many stories have you heard about Olympic athletes who suffered from an injury and were told they would never walk again, yet the athletes defied those notions and got back into the grind? Entrepreneurs think and act the same way. It’s truly them against the world and the journey is never easy, with perpetual naysayers and critics present along the way.
A perfect example is when SnapChat Cofounder Evan Spiegel told Forbes about how most people originally hated the idea:
“Everyone said, ‘That is a terrible idea,’” Spiegel said. “‘Not only is nobody going to use it,’ they said, ‘but the only people who do will use it for sexting.’” A venture capitalist sitting in on the class said it could be interesting, if he made the photos permanent and partnered with Best Buy. Spiegel nearly gagged.”
Spiegel stuck to his guns and made it possible.
6. They love to solve problems:
Entrepreneurs are very logically driven. They approach problems like they approach games, strategizing about how to overcome them, learn from them and provide solutions. For most people, problems equal stress, fatigue and nervousness, whereas entrepreneurs are excited about the opportunity to problem solve. You will often notice that due to this mentality, entrepreneurs tend to be very emotionally stable and are able to deal with the blows and punches of the startup roller coaster ride.
7. They understand the world of business:
This trait, when not fully realized, can be a fatal flaw in the startup world. As an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to enter the battlefield without first understanding your business. Take the time to understand it. Read, pick up the phone and ask for help, get advice and put the time into learning the basic concepts of business, from accounting to finance to marketing.
Trust me, when you equip yourself with that knowledge, you will become a more effective leader. It hurts me to see bright engineers, who have an amazing product but have no idea how their business model works, how they will raise money and how will they market and position themselves in the competitive landscape to succeed. These are all significant factors that are imperative to the success of the company.
Now you’re probably thinking “wow, these sound amazing, but are these characteristics prerequisites for becoming a successful entrepreneur?” Not quite. Like your statistics professor told you, correlation does not equal causation.
Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds, industry experiences and skill sets. They are all unique, and that’s what makes them great. But, if some of these characteristics describe you, maybe it’s time to explore the world of entrepreneurship. Dare yourself to take that first step. With hard work and dedication, who knows — you just might join the ranks of the most successful entrepreneurs in history, alongside our friends, Jack Dorsey, Mark Cuban and Nick Woodman.
The greatest energy we have is our potential. Don’t waste it.
Keep hustling, my friends.
Photo credit: Getty Images