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Anne Wallingford, WordSmith


Freelancer's FAQ

What Are the Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur?

The Components of a Successful Business
  1. A competent entrepreneur
  2. A viable business concept
  3. Access to adequate capital
When these three components come together, then you are in the right place at the right time. If not, you will probably fail.

Following is the summary of an article written by Judith L. Glick-Smith that ran in the July/August 1999 Society for Technical Communicators' journal, Intercom. This is a well-researched article and includes an impressive bibliography. Anyone thinking of becoming self-employed would do well to compare his/her own personality to the traits described in the article.

Check with your local library for copies of the STC's journal or purchase a back copy directly from the STC. (The STC is one of the links on my Interesting Links page.)

- Anne Wallingford

Successful Entrepreneurs
by Judith L. Glick-Smith

According to Webster's dictionary, an entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. Entrepreneurs live in the future. They have creative personalities, are innovative, and thrive on change. But what makes an entrepreneur successful? Research done by Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business came up with common characteristics of over 200 successful entrepreneurs. Successful was defined as being in business for at least 5 years and who has gross revenues of at least $1 million.

Common Traits in a Successful Entrepreneur

1. Good health. Successful entrepreneurs must work long hours for extended periods of time. When they get sick, they recover quickly.

2. A Need to Control and Direct. They prefer environments where they have maximum authority and responsibility and do not work well in traditionally structured organizations. This is not about power, though. Entrepreneurs have a need to create and achieve by having control over events.

3. Self-confidence. Findings showed that as long as entrepreneurs were in control, they were relentless in pursuit of their goals. If they lost control, they quickly lost interest in the undertaking.

4. Sense of Urgency. They have a never-ending sense of urgency to do something. This corresponds with a high energy level. Many enjoy individual sports rather than team sports. Inactivity makes them impatient.

5. Comprehensive Awareness. They have a comprehensive awareness of a total situation and are aware of all the ramifications involved in a decision.

6. Realistic Outlook. There is a constant need to know the status of things. They may or may not be idealistic, but they are honest and straightforward and expect others to be the same.

7. Conceptual Ability. They have superior conceptual abilities. This helps entrepreneurs identify relationships in complex situations. Chaos does not bother them because they can conceptualize order. Problems are quickly identified and solutions offered. The drawback is that this may not translate well to interpersonal problems.

8. Low Need for Status. Their need for status is met through achievement not through material possessions.

9. Objective Approach. They take an objective approach to personal relationships and are more concerned with the performance and accomplishment of others than with feelings. They keep their distance psychologically and concentrate on the effectiveness of operations.

10. Emotional Stability. They have the stability to handle stress from business and from personal areas in their lives. Setbacks are seen as challenges and do not discourage them.

11. Attraction to Challenges. They are attracted to challenges but not to risks. It may look like they are taking high risks, but in actuality they have assessed the risks thoroughly.

12. Describing with Numbers. They can describe situations with numbers. They understand their financial position and can tell at any time how much they have in receivables and how much they owe.

Written by Judith L. Glick-Smith and reprinted with permission from INTERCOM, the magazine of the Society for Technical Communication. Arlington, VA U.S.A.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013