In Full Awareness

The backbone of America

Entrepreneurs.

They are the backbone of America. They are part of the fabric that has made America the greatest nation in the world.

Without entrepreneurs, we wouldn’t have the Apple IPad or anything Microsoft. Where would the auto industry be if not for Henry Ford’s Model T and his innovative assembly line production method? Other famous entrepreneurs? Ted Turner (CNN) Elon Musk (Tesla) and Sam Walton (WalMart). The list is endless.

These people changed the world.

But what skills and characteristics make up a successful entrepreneurs?

Jayson Demers, a contributor to Entrepreneur, starts off with five must-have skills for success: Communications, Branding, Sales, Strategy and Finance.

These skills make sense. You must be able to communicate clearly your ideas and goals, build awareness for your brand online, create a strategy that includes the present but looks to the future and understand your cash flow, funding and profit margins. As for sales, even if you have a sales team, you, the owner, are selling your brand daytime you network in the business community or meet with a potential client.

Forbes listed 8 skills in an article: Resiliency, focus, invest for the long-term, find and manage people, sell, learn, self-reflection and self-reliance.

Steve Tobak, a writer for Inc., analyzed 10 skills that the next great entrepreneur needs: Seeing the Big picture, hunger to achieve, courage, functional competence, prioritization and trade-offs, motivator of people, decision-making, adaptability, initiative and top-down management style.

Gregory Downing, a business coach in Florida and author of “Entrepreneur Unleashed,” in a recent blog emphasized a few essential skills to make a person a better entrepreneur:

  • Effective communication
  • Financial literacy
  • Ability to set realistic goals
  • Negotiation

“Don’t worry if you don’t possess them all now,” Downing wrote, “ they can be taught!’

Both Downing and Demers list communication, finance and strategy. You have read the details to understand they both are talking the same language but use different words. Demers calls it strategy. Downing says it is the ability to set realistic goals.” “Create a strategy to help keep you on track for reaching your ultimate goal,” he writes.

When you dig deeper into Tobak’s and Forbes’s list you also find overlap. The experts on entrepreneurship may use different terminology, some may have a few more characteristics in their list, but they all coalesce around similar themes. The overarching traits fall under communication and strategy.

But there also are personal characteristics that are often mentioned when talking about an entrepreneur. Quotes about the entrepreneurial spirit are not only good for motivation, but they do provide an insight into what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.

As Yoda from Stars Wars said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Guy Kawaski, founder of AllTop, said: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

Entrepreneurs make things happen.

Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. Think about it! What would have happened if Henry Ford had made cars the same old way and didn’t use the assembly line? He tried something different and the world was never the same.

Success is also defined by failure.

In baseball, all stars hitters fail 65-70 percent of the time or hits just 40 homers every 600 at bats. In basketball, NBA great Michael Jordan understands resiliency.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed.”

Jordan never lost his self-confidence. He was always ready to take the next big shot.

NHL great Wayne Gretsky put it this way: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Interestingly, many successful entrepreneurs today began with a modest success or even failed. Their big win was not their first undertaking. Sam Walton first started as a Butler Brothers franchisee. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, started with Student Magazine. Ted Turner first founded Turner Outdoor Advertising.

They moved on, obviously, to greater successes.

Walt Disney said it quite bluntly: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

The next entrepreneur to change the world is starting now. Are you?

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