Calling All Student Entrepreneurs: Tell Us About Your Startup

The Most Important Characteristics And Skills Of A Good Entrepreneur

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Feb 13, 2016

This question originally appeared on Quora: If I want to become an entrepreneur, where do I start? Answer by Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Investor, Best-Selling Author, Jets Fan, Speaker.

What are the characteristics and skills of a good entrepreneur? What’s the “it” factor that makes for a great entrepreneur? To be a basketball star, you would most likely be extremely tall, fast, athletic, and have real hops. But the qualities of a great entrepreneur are more abstract or illusive for someone studying entrepreneurship and business.

From my experience, I believe there are five major traits that mean you have the chops when it comes to building a business and living the life of an entrepreneur.

1. Salesmanship.
The ability to sell something is absolutely necessary to knowing how to run a business at any stage. Whether you’re starting out on the floor like I did selling a physical product or the CEO of an agency selling the talented employees, you need to know how to make a sale.

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2. A chip on your shoulder.
Yes, I’m serious. And that can come in two forms. Either you were born with nothing, zero, and you’re just hungrier than the average human. Or, it’s the reverse: you born into a lot of wealth and opportunity and you want to prove that you don’t need it, and can do it on your own.

In either case, some kind of chip can push you a long way, especially for the amount of hours and energy you’ll need to put into your business.

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3. An independent spirit.
Being an entrepreneur means you rely on yourself and no one else. At the end of the day, you need to be 100% comfortable with making the final call, being able to trust yourself and your intuition.

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4. Understanding consumers and consumer attention.
Zuckerberg is a fantastic example of someone who truly understands and trades consumer attention. He got it with his product: Facebook.

He held onto it by identifying and acquiring Instagram. And he saw it with Snapchat too, but that deal didn’t pan out. In any case, the lesson is that not only knowing where the consumer is, but also where they are going, is crucial.

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5. Patience.
It can be a slow and lonely climb to the top. If patience is a trait you don’t currently possess, but you want to play in this world, I recommend developing it as much as you possibly can.

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Listen, everybody is born with some capability to run a business. But 90% are born with the capability to run a business into the ground. There is an amazing amount of entrepreneurs who can make $80,000-$90,000 working for themselves running a small e-commerce shop around a personal interest of theirs. And the opportunities to do that have never been more available. If you want to do that, do it. It was the main thesis statement of my first book Crush It. I am all about that life and I support it.

But let’s be clear about entrepreneurs and the businesses they run: there are levels to this shit. The higher you climb and the more the business grows, the stakes become a lot bigger. More and more people are depending on you to make the right decisions for them and the company. The league you’re playing in and the skill set required jumps from pickup ball to NBA very quickly.

Sure anyone can start a business, but only the top 25% will actually grow into multi-million dollar companies with more than one employee. To see what I’m really talking about, check out this infographic on how small businesses operate:

The talent and skill set required to make it to the big time are crucial.Real entrepreneurs are born and prove out their DNA with hard work. What I’m saying is this: only a handful of people have what it takes to truly run a million dollar business.


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