We live in a time of unprecedented opportunity. With a simple Internet connection anyone and everyone has the potential to launch a profitable, high-impact Internet business.
But if this is true – and it is – then why doesn’t everyone become a successful Internet entrepreneur?
In a recent episode of the TechSmart Podcast one of the things Lee and I talked about was what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
That discussion really got me thinking…
What DOES it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Which traits have I most relied on over the past 9 years to get where I am right now?
Which traits do I need to continue developing to reach new heights of success?
Most importantly, which traits should you be identifying and nurturing to ensure that you see success?
Just because the Internet makes entrepreneurship accessible doesn’t mean that there is no barrier to entry. There are still several requirements that each and every one of us must meet before we will see our way to the top of the digital food chain.
I can tell you right now, though, that a college degree and J-O-B experience are not on this list. In fact, just the opposite… These traits will almost always come easier when left untainted by the collegiate and corporate world.
“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.”
Napoleon Hill – the Godfather of self-development and writer of Think and Grow Rich – realized this simple truth after studying the traits and habits of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of his time. The people who made the biggest impact on the world (and made the most money doing it) were also the people that most fervently DESIRED their goals.
As human beings, there is one rule that governs our behavior – we do exactly what we want to do. And it doesn’t matter whether our wants help us or hurt us.
If you want to sit around and be lazy more than you want to create a thriving business, then you will never get anything done.
If you want to make your own way and carve a new, unexplored path through life, then you will.
Even though it’s a dark example, you can see this rule played out most clearly through an addiction.
Whether to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs (or dare I say, procrastination?), an addiction won’t be broken until the pain of continuing that addiction is greater than the pain of stopping. An addict won’t be able to really, truly quit until they WANT to quit more than they want to continue.
This same rule is why desire is a prerequisite to success. Without desire, you will never be driven to create something of value.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Thomas Stearns Eliot
I wish I could lie to you.
I wish that I could boldly proclaim that the entrepreneur’s world is one made of marshmallow mountains and chocolate rivers, with rainbows on every corner.
But I can’t.
So I’m telling you this with a heavy heart, like a parent tells their kids that Santa’s not real. You deserve the truth:
There is no way to guarantee that your business or start up will see success.
That’s why one of the essential traits of a successful entrepreneur is the guts to take a leap of faith. You need to take risks.
Many young entrepreneurs aren’t reaching their full potential because they’re afraid to explore unknown territory. They never realize that the best ideas are completely unique, which makes it impossible to determine how your audience will react to your proposition ahead of time.
Sure, you can use some of the tactics we’ve discussed here on StartupBros to increase the likelihood of your success…
For example, you can predict an audience’s response to your business’ name by split testing paid traffic. You can make sure your business idea has all 5 crucial ingredients. You can even ask your family and friends for feedback on your idea or product, although the it may not be reliable.
Despite all this, in the end there is nothing you can do to guarantee your success. All you can do is go as far as you can, just to see how far you can go. So buckle in and enjoy the ride, baby!
Access to Seed Money
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”
As we all (hopefully) know, free money doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, a sad number of people are rather predictably attracted to the prospect of free or easy money. Just look at the countless MLM schemes out there, or get-rich-quick infomercials. Those things don’t come out of nowhere, and they wouldn’t continue to pop up if somebody isn’t making money.
That’s why this is something that a lot of “gurus” won’t talk about. One of the hard but true facts of life is that it DOES take money to make money. It doesn’t necessarily take much, but it always takes some.
If you’re reading this in dismay because you don’t have access to any seed money, don’t be discouraged! There are a few exceptions, but just about every successful person (entrepreneur or otherwise) started from the bottom of the barrel and worked their way up.
Just look at Bill Simon, Walmart’s current CEO. He started out washing dishes for $2.50 an hour. Now he’s head honcho for one of the largest companies in the world – ever – that makes $34,880 per minute.
It’s important to understand that “seed money” doesn’t have to mean tens of thousands of dollars.
If you plan to start an Internet-based business (aka, most of you reading this), then you can reasonably get started on $1,000 or less. Especially if you have enough time and savvy for a DIY approach. Just take a look at our secret weapons; almost all of these tools come in under $100.
If you’re tight on cash at the moment, get creative. Sell some old stuff on e-bay. Go mow some lawns as the weather gets warmer. Offer to do some freelancing for a local business or through places like Freelancer or Elance.
Or hey, you can hone your marketing skills and earn some start up cash by working part-time as a telemarketer. Recommending any job is normally not something you’ll catch me doing, but this is one of the few that will provide real-world experience relevant to launching a business. In fact, several top copywriters I know have honed their skills in exactly the same way.
Whatever you choose, the important thing is to put some extra cash in your bank account and move forward with your business.
Shiny Object Immunity
“Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
I cannot tell you how many potential entrepreneurs I’ve seen waste away because they did not have this crucial trait.
The Internet is a very fast-paced environment. It seems like every week there is a new fad that gets heralded as “the next big thing” in digital marketing.
Even worse, there are a surplus of marketers out there that know exactly what buttons to push. They’ll make you honestly believe that you NEED to capitalize on each and every one of these “shiny objects”.
In order to succeed online, you need to be able to recognize “shiny objects” when you see them. But, you also need to recognize legitimate trends (such as social media) so that you don’t get left in the dust. This is where a knack for objective evaluation and awareness of your target market become important.
If you ever deviate from your business plan in any way shape or form, make sure you’re actually improving and not just succumbing to the latest trend.
Whatever happens, don’t let some slimy marketer forge your opinion for you… That’s a quick way to lose a lot of money and a lot of time.
Patience and Persistence
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
Yeah, yeah, I know that I already used a quote from Napoleon Hill. I can’t help it; the guy’s a stud! Really knows his stuff. And he hit this one right on the head.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t magically gain business-prowess overnight. It takes time in the real world to develop the skills you’ll need to become successful. It can be a tedious process.
Actually, scratch that; it WILL be a tedious process.
You have to put your nose to the grindstone every day just to get a little further on your journey to success.
And the days that you don’t work hard? Well, you’ll just stay put.
If you get discouraged? The only person to cheer you up is yourself, unless you’re part of a great community like the one here at StartupBros (have you joined our Rewards program yet?!).
Nobody said being an entrepreneur would be easy. This is where that first trait becomes relevant; if you’ve got an unquenchable desire, then you won’t be satisfied with anything less than your full potential. Even if you have to push yourself beyond your limits to get to it.
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.”
Self-awareness is a trait that you will never fully master. Let’s get that out of the way up front.
It’s easy to slip into this autopilot state where you let your your mind go numb and fall into a box of routine, but that is a very unproductive place to be.
One of the best ways to move forward is through self-examination. Give your self an objective analysis:
- How do you see yourself?
- How do others see you?
- Who is the person that you actually are?
- What needs to improve about your habits, or how you spend your time?
- What are you doing well?
- Are you moving towards your goals, or are you staying stagnant?
Now, start asking yourself those questions every day. Get used to it.
This isn’t an exercise to make you doubt yourself – You and I both know that you have what it takes to see success. Rather, this exercise is designed to develop an objective mental mirror to check that you’re going where you want to go as an entrepreneur. Learn to check it regularly.
I will finish by trying to salvage some semblance of modesty.
Just because these traits make up my prerequisites for a successful Internet entrepreneur does not mean that I have mastered each and every one of them. However, I see at least a glimmer of each in myself, and I’ve seen them in other successful entrepreneurs, too. I’m sharing them with you to give you a jump start on your own personal entrepreneurial journey.
Still, keep in mind that it’s possible there are a few essential traits that I missed. Can you think of any?
I’d love it if you’d chime in below with any other important entrepreneurial traits you see in yourself or others around you. Share with the community, help us all be better!
If not, you definitely should. It’s free and eye-opening, although should be taken with a grain of salt since it’s 75 years old… You can download it here if you’re interested
But I digress.