What does it take to be successful as an entrepreneur? It’s a frequently asked question. Common answers are passion, smarts, audacity—not to mention the ability to work 70-hour weeks with no end in sight.
However, there are other traits that can be just as advantageous but might not fit into our typical profile of the high-flying entrepreneur. In particular, here are six characteristics that can help you thrive in your entrepreneurial pursuits:
1. You are genuine
In a world where everyone wants to build their brand, be an expert, and get attention on social media, just being a genuine person is an increasingly rare quality. It’s also a huge competitive advantage, as no one wants to work with a phony. You should pursue a business if you genuinely care about solving a problem or improving people’s lives in some way. Forget about all the hype surrounding “launching a startup” and just be yourself.
2. You can take a break
Most people think that the best entrepreneurs live, eat, sleep, and breathe the business. However, it’s usually the opposite. Great business owners are typically grounded, well rested, and healthy. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to take care of your business, employees, and customers.
There are numerous ways to take a break from the business. Keep your exercise routine up, no matter how hectic your schedule gets. Hang out with friends and family. Meditate, go to a museum, take a long walk, or just put your phone aside. Any of these activities will give you the physical and emotional boost needed to make it through the tough weeks.
3. You know when to cut your losses
I will be the first to admit that nothing came particularly easy to me as an entrepreneur, and I needed to persevere through some very tough times. Grit and determination are critical, but you also need to know when to cut your losses and move on. Clinging to a bad decision is a surefire way to run your business into the ground.
When something isn’t working and circumstances are stacked against you, it’s best to stop, change gears, and move forward in a different direction. After all, the best decision is the one that works, not necessarily the first one.
4. You don’t know everything
The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t know-it-alls. They aren’t even the smartest people. So how do they do it? They know when to ask for help and surround themselves with smart, talented people.
Some entrepreneurs may think they have no weak points, but it’s simply not possible to be an expert in all things. The key is to identify where your weaknesses are: operations, sales, marketing, employee management, etc. Then rely on someone else for those areas. Remember, you don’t have to be a financial guru to hire a great accountant or CFO.
5. You can say no
When you are new to entrepreneurship, it is tempting to go for any and every opportunity that comes your way, whether it’s a last-minute client request or new potential market. However, success doesn’t come from taking on everything, but rather your ability to prioritize all of these opportunities. As Steve Jobs said, “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”
Set your priorities and use them as a guide for evaluating each new opportunity and request. Most importantly, keep in mind that saying no to something doesn’t mean you are not a nice person. You’re just setting your own priorities and boundaries.
6. You’re empathetic
Great entrepreneurs understand that business is more about people than money or sales. Instead of just creating new features and pushing new products, successful entrepreneurs build long-term relationships with employees and customers, think about their needs, and how they can help. Rather than rushing through your day, take the extra 15 minutes when talking to a customer or associate to really listen. It could end up being the most valuable 15 minutes of your whole week.
Do you agree? Are there other important traits to have as an entrepreneur?
Read all of Nellie Akalp’s articles on AllBusiness.com.