Entrepreneurs are a species of their own.
Read any important business biography of the last 100 years, and you’ll find many of the same personalities, exploits and innovations that color the stories of great artists and explorers.
But the psychological traits that drive industries aren’t limited to legends such as Steve Jobs and Oprah. In my experience, entrepreneurs of every age, public status and occupation share fundamental characteristics that set them apart from others.
This isn’t to say that possessing these characteristics is a guarantee of success. As with any other human quality, the entrepreneurial disposition can be used for good or bad, might blossom or wither, or never be nurtured at all.
I’ve found it helpful to observe certain traits in my own life, both retrospectively and on a day-to-day basis. Doing so has helped me hone my skills, polish rough corners, and improve overall as a father, husband, friend and business owner.
Here are five personality traits that will likely help you as an entrepreneur, and ones that I feel are worth taking advantage of:
1. You’re independent.
As an independent person, you get stuff done. You don’t rely on others to be told what to do or what to think. You know what interests you, you know what you want, and you pursue these goals regardless of outside support or encouragement.
I remember being 15 years old and deciding that I wanted to skip a year of high school. I did the research by myself, learned which hoops I had to jump through, and went in front of the school board without my parents present to argue my case. Once they approved, I told my mom about it. She said “Ok, Levi, that’s great.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back I see how that kind of self-reliance facilitated my career.
2. You’re relentlessly curious.
Curious people want to understand how things work. Whether the subject is business, economics, or politics, they’re always trying to improve their grasp of the mechanisms that move the world.
Much of their knowledge comes through reading and study, but the lion’s share originates in hands-on practice and experimentation. They have skin in the game and the scrapes and bruises to show for it.
3. You’re obsessed with efficiency and quality.
I was raised on a farm, and assigned daily tasks that included everything from irrigating to milking cows. I quickly figured out that the faster I finished, and the better I did, the more time I’d have on my hands to pursue my own interests.
Entrepreneurs realize that perfection is unattainable, but they seek it anyway. Every moment counts. If, at the end of the day, they find themselves with 10 extra minutes on their hands, they don’t sit back and relax. They plunge forward on the next assignment, taking care that speed never trumps excellence.
4. You question the rules.
Nothing inspires creativity like questioning established orders. I have a daughter, Gabby, who exemplifies this principle. She’s never content with a “yes” or “no” or “just because.” It can be annoying as hell, but I’d be a hypocrite to complain about it It makes her creative and clever. She recently interrogated me about bedtime, for example. Why did she have to go to sleep at such-and-such o’clock–was it gospel, set in stone? I told her if she didn’t, she’d be tired in the morning.
Gabby promptly figured out how to sneak a reading light into bed and stayed up late with a book. Later, she informed me of her experiment and said she’d been wide awake at breakfast. In her mind, she’d proved me wrong.
Her bedtime didn’t change, but she learned that rules are often arbitrary, and that challenging them can lead to new discoveries (I fully expect her lesson to redound to my benefit in my old age).
5. You’re scrappy and don’t care what people think.
Saying someone is scrappy is another way of saying they’re a fighter. They’re inventive and tenacious; they scrape and claw for every inch; they’re quick to seize an advantage, and slow to surrender it. If they have to surrender it, they’re instantly on the hunt for ways to make up ground.
Consider an acquaintance–later an entrepreneur–who didn’t have the grades for a college scholarship. He found a workaround by applying for a bunch of micro-scholarships instead. If it was true that very few people would write an essay for a measly $200 dollars, it was also true that this left the field wide open, and that several small rewards amounted to one big one.
It didn’t bother him how people perceived it. Progress was all that mattered, money was money, and he wouldn’t get anywhere waiting for a miracle. Fight for your dreams, and doors will open.
Written by Levi King
NB: Culled from inc.com