What makes a good entrepreneur?

At Catalyst Founders, we are looking to find the best young entrepreneurs from across the country. In order to do this, we need to have a solid understanding of the skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Before we delve into the attributes of a successful entrepreneur, it is worth mentioning that the entrepreneurial personality type is incredibly difficult to define. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes which is what makes our job exciting! You don’t have to have a particularly academic inclination, nor is it a prerequisite that you dropped out of school after starting your first business. The answer to the question of entrepreneurial success is far more nuanced and opaque. The below list is not exhaustive, nor is it ranked, however if you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, it is worth stepping back and considering whether you have, or are committed to learning how to display, these attributes before pursuing an entrepreneurial venture.

Firstly, to be a great entrepreneur you need to attune your internal sensors to opportunity identification. Once you have adjusted your frame of vision from resigned acceptance to problem solving, a whole host of things start to look like an opportunity. I would recommend trying it for a day and seeing what ideas you come up with. Try your morning journey to university; where are the inefficiencies, what are the problems? Am I unsure of where I parked by bike last night, taking 10 minutes to find it? Do I get angry when I missed my bus for the nth time? Is my train always overcrowded in one carriage but completely empty in another? Once you start thinking like this a whole host of amazing opportunities arise.

The next step on the road to entrepreneurial maturity is to have a really strong understanding of your ability to deliver. Take the above train carriage example; your solution might be an app. that identifies the emptiest carriages on the train, based on historic and live data. A great idea, but are you the right person to spearhead this fledgling business? What relevant experience and expertise do you have in this space? Do you have any personal connections that could turbo-charge this idea? Do you have a strong network that could support your market research and beta testing? Do you have app. building and tech. experience? A rational understanding of your own ability to succeed is essential once you have started identifying opportunities.

Subsequently, you must be acutely self-aware. You need to know what you are good at and what gaps you have in your entrepreneurial arsenal. If you know (and have validated) what you are good at, you can become a confident self-promoter in these areas. Entrepreneurs are often seen as talismanic and self-assured, attributes which are essential in growing your business and looking to build a team. Unfortunately, no one has a full suite of skills; consequently, an awareness of your own deficiencies and a proactive desire to fill your entrepreneurial gaps with colleagues who complement your skillset, are critical in ensuring your success.

Next, you need to be passionate and determined. If you don’t believe in what you do, then why would investors, customers or first hires? If you are not truly determined and singularly passionate, a simple setback, in the form of a sales dip, investor rejection or resignation can curtail your fledgling enterprise. You need to be able to bounce back from setbacks, with a clear vision of the end-game and a singular determination to succeed. By all means surround yourself with rational people that will help you take a more considered approach to your startup, but maintaining that deep-seated passion and determination is of vital importance.

Finally, you need a strong work ethic. This doesn’t necessarily mean working every hour under the sun, but it does mean having a methodical attitude to an unstructured career. You must be able to meticulously plan your week, month, and year ahead and stick to it; giving yourself time to step back and strategize, and allowing appropriate leisure time to avoid burn out. Without this you will be both wholly unproductive and perpetually over-worked; a devilish combination.

And there you have it. It’s not rocket science, but it isn’t easy either. If you work on these crucial skills, you will be well-placed to pursue an exciting, energizing, and deeply fulfilling career.

Stephen Barnett is the Founder of Catalyst Founders, a company which seeks to invest in and support young entrepreneurs from across the country. If you have a desire to pursue your idea please apply: www.catalystfounders.com/apply.


Catalyst Founders are now a Youth Employment UK Member and have this article as part of their membership package. If you would like to have articles published on the Youth Employment UK site along with many other benefits please click here to register.


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