There’s a reason the vast majority of Americans prefer the stability of a paycheck over the life of an entrepreneur. It takes bravery, persistence, and determination to face a world of rejection and risk. There’s a word for such a combination of qualities: grit. Grit is the quality that causes an entrepreneur to take risks, defy odds, and keep on keepin’ on.
The very quality that puts the “create” in creator and “invent” in inventor is ingenuity. Having an eye for solving society’s problems in creative ways is the X factor that separates the makers from the rest. Your business doesn’t have to be an invention to require ingenuity. Finding a new way of selling a traditional item (Warby Parker, anyone?) requires the very same skill.
The concept of empathy may be surprising for a list about self-starters, but entrepreneurship is, at the end of the day, about meeting the needs of others. The best brands are those who’ve found ways to understand what their customers feel, then make their experiences—and lives—better.
If any quality on this list faces resistance in modern entrepreneurship, it’s humility. Instagram accounts are full of entrepreneurs broadcasting their spending, their success, and their overall good fortunes. If only it were always true. Among the many problems with rejecting humility is the affect it has on those around you. How lonely it would be to attain success only to have no one next to you cheering it on.
When you lead a company or run a business, you’re bound to ruffle some feathers and have your own feathers ruffled in return. Getting ahead isn’t about avoiding conflict. It’s about moving beyond it. Having grace – both for your own mistakes and the mistakes of others – is vital to making it as a leader without growing bitter.
Launching a business is a pricey endeavor. There are plenty of ways to burn through your seed money, including pricey furniture, flashy clothing, or slick marketing materials. But as made famous in The $100 Startup, it doesn’t have to be that way. Remaining thrifty in the early days is a necessary ingredient in becoming successful over the long term.
Today’s world is full of distraction. Social media has confused running a business with managing a brand. But those who succeed often have a common trait: focus. Being disciplined in managing your schedule, conquering the tasks before you, and sticking to your plans is an absolute must if you’re going to be a self-starter.
Making a cheap buck is actually pretty easy. Selling goods that don’t work or fudging your numbers to make some extra profit may give you a leg-up in the short-term but will give you a rotten reputation in the long run. (Not to mention a well-earned sense of guilt in your gut.) Maintaining high integrity may not always pay off immediately, but it’s essential to living a life of honest success.
The road of entrepreneurship is one marred with potholes. Give up when you hit your first roadblock, and you’ll be in good company. But if you’re able to brush your knees off and try again, you could join the ranks of the many ultra-successful people whose first endeavors didn’t quite pan out.
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