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What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Have you ever been in a situation where you were struggling with something or another and you thought to
yourself: There's Got To be A Better Way to do this? Then a few months later, someone comes up with a better
way and makes millions with his or her idea. If you have a burning desire to develop a solution you have and
launch it into the marketplace, then take a look at my 10 favorite answers from Quora.com to the question: What
does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Founder of Pandora
If I had to choose one attribute that would be most predictive of success for an entrepreneur I would have to
say being a good communicator. By that I mean having the ability to get other people excited or inspired about
your vision. In the end, success comes largely from the work and contribution of others around you, not
That includes employees, investors, customers, users, etc. If you can effectively recruit, pitch, sell, and
evangelize to these groups then you're in good shape. There are of course exceptions, but I've almost always
found when I meet great entrepreneurs they all share that capability... in spades. Whenever I speak to young
people about entrepreneurship, I always tell them to learn public speaking. No skill will be more valuable to
their future (and it's surprising how little that is taught).
CEO of Lore Systems and Opus8
The 5 most essential traits an entrepreneur needs are:
- A clear vision
- Burning desire
And, of course, the ability to recognize and capitalize on the little bits of serendipity and lucky breaks that
will inevitable come.
Founder of uTest
Strong intuition to chase the right vision even when the chances to succeed are not high. Obviously part of
the a strong intuition is a solid understanding of the market you operate in.
Bob La Loggia
The guidance in this thread is definitely valuable, but I would add two more traits to the mix. The first is
naivete. Yes, I know that sounds odd, but sometimes knowing too much can cause you to avoid risks. Risk-taking
is absolutely essential to getting any business off the ground. Many of the world's most exciting and
successful companies wouldn't exist today if the founders were focused on the things that could have gone
The second trait is a crazy sense of urgency. Most entrepreneurs have this. They have to have this. It's part
of what pushes you to work late nights, weekends, and while walking on the treadmill. People who don't have
this trait should think twice about trying their hand at starting a business.
Founder, Serial entrepreneur
- Ability to connect to other people
- Willingness to pay it forward
- Having a meticulous post-mortem learning process in place that will keep you honest & learning
Social sector viability
The ability to quickly assess opportunity and risk. There's a fair amount of evidence that entrepreneurs reduce
risk - they don't eliminate it, avoid it or embrace it, but they accept it and manage it.
Find a hungry crowd and feed them what they're hungry for.
Founded of CHINICT
To make a long story short:
Brains + "Balls" + Right Timing = Success!
Been a solo and co- founder
Stop thinking about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Instead, think about what it takes to make the thing you really want to make or to offer the service you really
want to offer.
Being a successful entrepreneur is a biproduct of having something you are obsessed about creating or doing.
Why did Edison go through 10,000 prototypes before he came up with a successful design for a lightbulb? Was it
because he wanted to become a successful entrepreneur? No, it was because he was obsessed with figuring out how
to build a lightbulb.
Ask yourself the following questions:
(1) Is there a (genuine) need for your product? You will notice that I did NOT ask "Do people need your
product?" It is often the case that most people do not even realize what they need until they have it.
Accordingly, the question is not whether people consciously recognize they need something, but whether there is
a need generally, i.e. is there some problem that needs to be solved.)
(2) Will people be better off if you build your product? Will your idea actually have some tangible benefit to
your users? Will the world be at least a slightly better place because of it? Will people, once they have it,
not be able to imagine living without it?
(3) Do you genuinely believe in your product? This isn't just a question of "do you like your idea" or "are you
determined to do it no matter what." The question is, can you genuinely look yourself in the mirror and answer
the above two questions in the affirmative? Do you truly -- but not "passionately," as passion implies an
emotional bias, and this is not for you to give pause to reflect upon your "feelings" but rather your objective
analysis of your idea -- do you truly and rationally believe in your product to such a degree that you can make
others around you believe in it too? Which leads to Question 4...
(4) Do others want your product when you tell them about it? This is sort of a trick question though. The two
extreme answers should be tossed out as outliers: both "Dude, that's a GREAT idea!" and "Meh. It's ok" don't
really mean much. In the first, if it's so obvious, it either has been tried and doesn't work or is fatally
flawed to such a degree that it doesn't exist. In the latter, your idea is actually worthless or they can't be
bothered to think about it. Either way, both extreme answers offer you little feedback. The best answer is
something that goes like this: a speechless, confused expression followed by doubt, some questions, some more
doubt, perhaps even a moment or two of utter disbelief, at last concluded with a double-take followed by an
"aha! eureka moment. If you keep getting this sort of reaction, you probably have a pretty disruptive and
useful idea: it's hard to grasp initially, represents an unorthodox answer or complete paradigm change to a
very obvious problem, and offers a remarkable solution that no one had considered before.
(5) How long have you been thinking about doing this? I have a feeling this question will prove the most
controversial within the Quora community, but I firmly believe that if you've had your idea for a long time --
years, perhaps -- and rather than fading it only gets stronger and more pressing in your mind, it is probably
something really special and worth pursuing. We only get wiser and more experienced as time goes on, which is
why most ideas fade into obsolescence with time. Those ideas whose value increases over time must be something
truly unique indeed.
And finally... the "obvious but still needs to be asked" question:
(6) Do YOU want your product? Would YOU use your product? Seriously: is this a product that you couldn't live
without? Is this something that you want -- and would -- use all the time?
If you answered the above questions in the affirmative, stop reading Quora, stop doubting yourself, and go
start building your new startup NOW.
And do as Nike says. Because after all, everything in life has a chance of failure, and it is far better to
fail at something you love than to fail at something you don't.
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