Much has been said about what the traits that define a successful entrepreneur are. The problem with most of the common descriptions lies in their narrow definition of success.
Most, if not all, define a successful entrepreneur as someone “who has been able to make it.” In plain English this refers to that rare entrepreneur who has become wealthy and possibly acquired fame in the process. This is rather a restricting definition of success as fame and wealth could well be temporary rewards (remember Conrad Black or Martha Stuart).
In its broadest definition, a successful entrepreneur could also be an individual who has been able to change the lives of others in a positive way. It could simply be a human being who has been able to raise a family while running a prospering business.
Here is what I believe is the recipe for a durable, meaningful and long-lasting entrepreneurial success (I am using the masculine form but this also applies to female entrepreneurs):
1. The entrepreneur is, first and foremost, in the business of making the world a better place to live in. Financial reward or incentive is a mean rather than an end.
2. The entrepreneur’s reputation is more expensive than money or stock options. In fact, it is priceless. As a consequence, he doesn’t lie to investors, to employees, to his family, or to anyone else including to himself.
3. The entrepreneur is always positive and has the ability to positively influence others around him. Regardless of the circumstances around him he always sees the cup half-full. He can turn challenges into opportunities, and convert enemies/competitors into allies/partners.
4. The entrepreneur is an excellent communicator. He can speak and write with confidence. His clear writings are evidence of his clear thinking. Since communication is a two-way channel the entrepreneur knows that listening is as important as speaking, if not more important.
5. The entrepreneur is a visionary with sharp laser-grade focus. While he learns lessons from the past he always lives in the future.
6. The entrepreneur has a high self-esteem. He doesn’t allow his ego to prevent him from pivoting and from learning lessons.
7. The entrepreneur is an innovator who never accepts mediocrity and the status quo. He fixes a higher standard of achievement for himself when compared to the one he demands from others around him.
8. The entrepreneur treats others with the respect and the honor they deserve, be it employees, suppliers or partners.
9. The entrepreneur leads and influences others by example. His actions are a walking proof of his words. If he makes a promise he fulfills it. If he makes a mistake he admits it.
10. The entrepreneur has the ability to empower others around him to work towards a common goal.
11. The entrepreneur is keen on leaving a legacy behind him for future entrepreneurs to be inspired by.
Some of the above traits might seem naive to those who adopt the traditional definition of success. I wish Steve Jobs were still around so that I could ask him what he thinks about the above recipe.
Or wait a minute: how about you become the next Steve Jobs? Then you will get to tell me whether I am right or wrong.
Good luck in your journey.