What separates great entrepreneurs from everyone else? Most people would say things along the lines of hard worker, smarts, expertise, dedication, thinking out-of-the-box, producing quality work and more. These are all good answers, but above all else, in my 30 years as a successful business owner and working with very successful entrepreneurs, I've found some characteristics that usually prove if someone has what it takes to succeed.
They are: not being afraid to fail and even welcoming failure, having fun in what they do, great listening skills, being able to overcome obstacles, a dedication to never stop learning and the self-belief that they can win.
To better illustrate the point, here are six quotes that you must believe in order to be a great entrepreneur.
"There can be no failure to a man who has not lost his courage, his character, his self-respect or his self-confidence." -- Orison Swett Marden, founder, Success Magazine
Most people believe that failure is painful and should be avoided in order to maintain a sense of pride and dignity. The most successful people in business, on the other hand, see failure as a necessary building block of mega-success, and treat it as a teacher. Champions aren't in the business of protecting their egos; they're in the business of learning, growing and becoming. Stop avoiding failure and welcome it with open arms. It's the only way to become successful.
"When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun, and when you have fun, you can do amazing things." -- Joe Namath, professional football player
One of the most closely-held secrets of world-class performers is how much fun they have in what they do. Outsiders see big-time performers as super self-disciplined, self-sacrificing, success-and-achievement machines. Yet a closer look gives a more accurate portrayal of what really drives these people: fun. Most people go to work and plod through the day; champions go to work and have fun. When you're doing something that encompasses your natural talents, abilities and passion, you're going to be one step ahead of everyone else.
"Listen to everyone in your company, and figure out ways to get them talking. The folks on the front line - the ones who actually talk to the customers -- are the only ones who really know what's going on out there. You'd better find out what they know." -- Sam Walton, founder, Wal-Mart
Listening is a key factor in uncovering what is really going on inside the minds of other people. Most people don't listen, and are usually more focused on what they're going to say next. If you ask most successful sales people what makes them so successful, most will tell you listening to the needs of prospects. Human beings are emotional creatures with a need to be understood. Listening is the most effective method of getting to know what motivates and moves people into action. Top entrepreneurs have a profound respect for the art of listening and they use this skill to help them achieve their goals.
"The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong." -- Thomas Carlyle
While most people see obstacles as their primary adversary, champions view them as opportunities to expand their level of thinking and competence. The only way to truly become mentally tough enough to manifest your vision is to struggle and fight your way through obstacles. Most people want to avoid obstacles and find the easy way out. World class performers get great by overcoming as many obstacles as they can. They get tough because they're in the game, getting hit and taking shots. The great ones are sometimes fearful, yet develop more courage with each new obstacle, until they stand up one day as true mental warriors.
"An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive business advantage." -- Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO, General Electric
For most people in modern western culture, learning means memorizing facts, theories and dates. Higher education, as commendable as it is, isn't the answer, either. Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. The pros invest heavily in books, audio programs and seminars on everything from personal development to business sales, marketing and management. They read and study and become world-renowned experts. Most people believe they have little left to learn. The most successful people know the more they learn, the greater level of awareness they reach. School is never out for the great ones.
"In the second grade, they asked us what we wanted to be. I said I wanted to be a ball player and they laughed. In the eighth grade, they asked the same question, and I said a ball player and they laughed a little more. By the eleventh grade, no one was laughing." -- Johnny Bench, major league catcher
Let's face it: being an entrepreneur can be tough. Those who succeed aren't just driven to win. They believe they can. If you inherited a treasure map from your best friend, would you be driven to follow the map and find the fortune? So would anyone else. If this is true, why are the majority of people trying to survive in a world of wealth and abundance? The answer is simple: they don't believe they can find their own treasure. Most people have limited beliefs, and subsequently, small ambitions. The most successful people aren't necessarily smarter or more talented, they are more focused and driven every day to continue to win. Do you truly believe you have what it takes?