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Five (5) Behaviours of Successful Entrepreneurs

According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 2022, on average over 100,000 small- and medium-sized businesses are started each year. Seventy percent of those business fail due to a variety of factors including limited number of employees, industry competitiveness, but mainly due to management issues (Made in CA, 2023). Despite the high failure rate, there continues to be interest for individuals to start a business, indicated by the 62 per cent increase in the number of small businesses from 2021 to 2022 (Equifax Canada, 2022). 

The question that arises from these points is: If there continues to be a demand for individuals to pursue the entrepreneurial path, then how can entrepreneurs be more successful at starting and maintaining a business? Listed below are five (5) behaviours of successful entrepreneurs.

1. Enjoy Your Pursuit

The entrepreneurial journey can be long and is often lonely. Making the decision to ‘go on your own’ indicates that sometimes only you can see the outcome, only you have that vision. Therefore, only you would be willing to commit hours, months, and years to see your vision become a reality. You may not always find enjoyment in the process—this is where a network of supporters, with varied backgrounds and experiences, will be an asset. They can help be a sounding board for when you need to vent, or to solve a problem that you have not encountered before. There is also the option of allocating those less-desirable responsibilities to others on your team, allowing you to focus on your strengths. 

2. Be Adaptable and Creative

There are many books, videos, and courses on entrepreneurship. While these resources can be valuable, they often follow a linear approach, which does not reflect the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship.  Starting a business involves adapting to unforeseen circumstances and responding to competing priorities: an employee calls in sick, a delay in goods from your supplier, or a customer is late in making payment. Being able to “pivot” and find alternate paths is essential to function in the uncertainty of business.  The ability to “think outside of the box,” i.e., creativity, is necessary to respond to the different scenarios. Creativity will allow you to innovate on typical options and develop new, unproven approaches to address the problem. 

3. Raise Your Risk Tolerance

Adopting a “bias for action” is a mindset that focuses on making progress and acting, without being bogged down in unnecessary details or caught in an exercise of “analysis-paralysis.” This approach can cause concern, as decisions are made with incomplete information and create a fear of imperfection.  However, not acting often results in lost opportunities, disappointment, and regret. To be comfortable with this approach, start small, make decisions that have a low impact (risk) to the business. As comfort increases with this type of decision, then move to medium-and high-impact decisions, with appropriate assessment and mitigation of the risks. Be comfortable with the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and using an iterative process to make progress. Keep in mind the famous quote: “It’s not about making the right decision, it’s about making the decision right” (Harvard Business Review, 2013).

4. Increase Your Level of Openness

Dictionary.com, defines Openness as being “…receptive to new ideas, opinions, or arguments…” which is a critical requirement for anyone starting a business. The entrepreneurial journey is filled with unknowns, so it is necessary to have an open mind to new and unfamiliar ways of solving problems.  Months, possibly years, may be spent developing a new product or service. This commitment to create something of value can lead to blindspots. The final version may not meet customer expectations or is no longer competitive in the market. Build a network of individuals with diverse and supportive points of view who can provide feedback, as the product or service is being developed.  Being receptive to different ideas and different points of view, and accepting that plans may need to change, is an entrepreneurial strength.

5. Build Higher Levels of Resilience

Grit, “…the power of passion and perseverance…,” was made famous by psychologist Angela Duckworth.  Perseverance describes the ability to continue doing something difficult to achieve success. Resilience relates to the ability to recover, to “bounce back” from the difficulties and stress encountered in trying to achieve a goal. Being able to respond to setbacks and apply the learnings from that experience is an advantage of resilience. Being declined by customers, making a bad decision, missing a deadline are difficulties that can be encountered while trying to launch a successful business. Resilience is also a valued quality by customers, employees, lenders, and investors. A proven way to build resilience is through physical activity, e.g. training to run a 5K, 10K, or even a marathon (The Washington Post, 2023). Training, while more physically demanding, can be easily measured to provide clear indicators of progress.

Nigel Taklalsingh | Contributing Writer

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