Last weekend I was with my in-laws and as I was talking with my father in-law, he talked about the course I studied in school (accounting) and was jokingly (or really) saying, “Accountants are usually stingy”
Is that true?
You see, as an accountant, we were trained to be accountable for even the penny spent. If any expenses could not pass the “audit examination”, we usually take caution.
At school when people asked us for money, me and my accounting friends would ask them, “which account do you want us to record this expense?”
That`s a way to avoid such expenses.
A special trait is nowhere peculiar to the accounting profession. In fact, every profession has certain traits that make the professionals in those field successful.
Lawyers are known for their argumentative nature.
Doctors are usually cool, patience, meticulous people.
Just any vocation you could mention has certain attributes and characteristics that are common to the players in that field.
There are characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and I will explain 31 of them in this tutorial.
That doesn`t mean that you must have all of these characteristics before you can ever become successful in the business world.
Many of these attributes of the successful entrepreneurs can be learned and mastered.
So can we check them?
- Vision to see what most people cannot see
One major characteristic of the successful entrepreneurs is the ability to see opportunity before it becomes too obvious. I got to a new area in one of the Nigerian states some days ago and I asked them how much the cost of land in that area is.
I looked at few others real estate “influencers” factors and saw what most people in that area may not see… soon, the land and housing in that area will be on high prices.
Business people look around for “market indicators” which could hint them on what people will be willing to buy soonest.
Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They could use their imagination to see what a small beginning could lead to in the next few years.
If you want to be a successful business owner, you have to be able to see business opportunities around you, even before they are visible to the public eye
(Click here if you wish to get a training about how to discover business opportunities and ideas in Nigeria)
- Courage to start
One other characteristic of entrepreneurs is the courage to start. Some other people call this risk taking.
By this I do not mean to say that a business person must be fearless. In fact, no human being is fearless, not even soldiers. Courage is the ability to act despite the fear of failure.
When I took the decision to resign my job, I was afraid. I never could tell what was ahead of me. I never knew how I will live, yet, I felt like I had to get out of the work I hate.
You will never get to a point in your life where you`re fearless. All you can do is to take action despite the fear in your heart.
- War spirit
I have told you before now that business is a war. Yes, it is.
One of the attribute of successful entrepreneurs is that they handle business with all of their hearts. They are not passive. They are aggressive. They are strategists. They are warriors.
- Game spirit
Though successful business people see business as a battle, at the same time, they approach it as a game.
Okay, what do you think football is?
Yes, in the 15th century. Today, football is not just a game. It has become a business. Because it has become a business, you can see the battle on the field.
Though a footballer knows he`s in for battle, he still has to play with the sport man spirit. So it is with business.
Though you know you have to defeat your competitors, that doesn`t make them your enemies.
- Selling skills.
Business is all about selling. No, not just your products/services. You have to sell your ideas to investors in order to raise capital. You have to sell your vision to your employees in order to get their devotion to your business.
You will have to sell your vision to your partners, your suppliers and even your wife.
Successful business owners are all having this characteristic
- Negotiation skills
Just as selling skills, you will find yourself always amidst people who want to do business with you but are willing to get one reward or another. You will need to get the best from them without being dubious. That`s why you have to master the art of negotiation.
I recommend you should read a great book call, You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen.
- Leadership skills
Successful entrepreneurs are like military generals. They have a team of people they have to lead.
That`s why it`s very important that you as a business person develop your leadership skills.
- Tick skin to criticism
When people decide to be business owner in a society where job is the noise of everyone, what do you expect?
Worse still when you start your entrepreneurial journey and things are not working for you as expected, your family members may be the first to criticize you, then your friends.
This Tick skin attribute is very important to anyone willing to be successful as a business owner because many times you`ll find yourself at the opposite side of the general opinion.
Develop a tick skin.
Don`t let the criticism and opinion of others pull you down.
- Healthy self-esteem
Successful business men and women are people who believe in themselves and their business vision.
Most people in the world are “self-doubters”… even when they have business ideas they don`t believe in themselves to be able to pursue them and succeed.
- Tenacity to continue after failure
If you see anyone who claims to have succeeded in business without ever failing (I mean terribly), please run away from him because he probably got his money from some frauds.
You will make mistakes. You will fail. The courage to continue is what differentiate successful business owners from the failures.
This characteristic of entrepreneurs is likely the most wanting in our society today because most people have been wrongly trained by school that failure is a bad thing and should be avoided.
School is a liar.
Failure is a ladder you must climb to the city of success.
Have you failed before?
I encourage you. Stand up and start all over again.
- Flexibility to change the plan, not the goal
Sometimes when you fail, you will have to sit down and reassess the whole thing about your business. There may be need to change you plans, in fact, there may be need to change your line of business, but never the goal.
Your goal is to become a successful business owner. Even when circumstances could lead you to change the plans you earlier had, your goal must not be changed.
- Let your business be your wife
A distinguishing attribute of successful entrepreneurs is that, they love their business.
They are passionate about that business. They love what they are doing. That`s the reason why they could work extremely hard and still love what they are doing.
If you don`t love your business, there is no way you can become rich through it.
You may read this tutorial about 13 reasons why it`s easier to be rich when you`re doing what you love.
- Don`t take your business into your bedroom
I once read about a man who happened to be the richest man in the world but who has divorced about four times. What will you say about such a man?
A (truly) successful man?
When I advocate that you should go into business in the area you are really passionate about, I am not suggesting that you should neglect your wife and family.
- Take care of the king
Sam Walton has said it probably before I was born. Customer is the one who employed all of us and he can sack us simply by going to our competitor.
Successful entrepreneurs are people who, from the beginning of their business have taken customers to be the kings.
- Brand yourself
Many people in Africa just start selling stuffs and call that business.
Business has to be packaged and branded. This is because the customers are emotional people who are attracted to packaging and brand.
This characteristic of entrepreneurs can be visibly seen all around you by looking at the successful businesses.
Click here to read about how to brand your business
- Investigate your competitor
You must know your competitors just as a general always seek to know his enemy.
Investigate your competitors. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you outsmart them?
Successful entrepreneurs are investigators.
- Take time to know your customers
Business people know that if they don`t know their customer`s needs, wants and behaviours, they won`t be able to serve them very well.
It is typical of entrepreneur to investigate the lives and thoughts of their customers.
- See business as a ministry
Really, if money is the number one motivation for your business, you are not going to be successful.
Richard Branson once said a statement that goes like, business is charity. This attribute of entrepreneurs is what makes them to serve their market with better products and service.
The goal is to make the world a better place, before making money.
- Great products/services alone
So many people (especially in Africa) are into business with substandard products and fake services. No entrepreneur ever became rich that way.
- Don`t be afraid to promote yourself.
Be proud of whatever you`re selling.
- Don`t ever go alone
A typical entrepreneur always work with people.
John Maxwell has told us, have you forgotten? That one is too small a number to achieve greatness. You lack many skills and strengths which other people have. That`s why you need them.
If I mention MTN, Facebook, Coca-Cola, what did you see in your mind?
The picture of specialized businesses.
Even if you`re going to diversify in the future, starting out you must be a specialist. This characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is very obvious, isn`t it?
- Create a unique selling promise
Every successful business differentiates itself from the competitors. This differentiation is what is known as USP (Unique Selling Promise)
- Make it easy for your customer to buy your product
People are lazy. That`s the reason why successful business owners try every time to make their products/services easy for their customers to get.
- Don`t forget to play
Many times it is when you`re playing you get inspirations and business ideas
- Delegate authority
There are too many things to be done. Delegate whatever anyone can do for you
- Have business-minded friends
This characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is one of the reasons why poor people hate them, but you see, you can`t fly with eagle if you spend your time with birds.
- Manage money frugally.
Delay gratification. This is not time to show off and spend on big clothes and shoes, not to talk of cars.
- Give back to those you own
One distinguishing nature of most successful entrepreneurs is that they give back to those they own. When I said those you own here, I am not talking about those you borrowed money from.
You see, all of us are debtors to our friends, family and society. We have to give back to them after we have become successful
- Manage the problem of too much money
Yes, there is a problem in having too much money. You`ll start having too much (fake) friends, too much hatred from the poor people, too much criticism from the media etc.
You must manage all these.
- Never stop learning
If I had my way, this would have been the first point to talk about because even before you start on the journey of entrepreneurship, when you start, as you grow and till you die, learning is the number one thing in the life of successful business owners.
How much anger I have when I see Africans who never read business books or who are not reading enough, yet wish to be successful in the business world!