Dec 22 2013, 6:12am CST | by Forbes
Every entrepreneur is different. It couldn’t be any other way.
Similarly, the companies they create are as unique as they are. That, too, is a given.
And while, as we have seen, there is a common logic that the best entrepreneurs follow in building their companies, we have never really talked about the traits or characteristics that help make someone a successful entrepreneur in the first place.
Some of those traits are obvious..
Being smart is always a good thing. And drive and determination are definitely required, given the inevitable obstacles you will face.
But those are the price of entry. They don’t seem to separate entrepreneurs from everyone else.
After studying entrepreneurs for more than 30 years, I have decided that a writer–and not a businessperson–may have identified the necessary traits, although the writer in question–William Falkner–did it inadverently.
The following is from an interview The Paris Review did with the Nobel Laureate
Question: “How much of your writing is based on personal experience?”
Faulkner: “I can’t say. I never counted up. Because “how much” is not important. A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination—any two of which, at times any one of which—can supply the lack of the others.”
I think those same three traits–observation, experience and imagination–are required to be a successful entrepreneur. But unlike in creating a novel, I think all three are absolutely required at all times.
However, I don’t think they should be weighted equally.
While I believe observation and imagination are always necessary, experience is a two-edged sword.
Sure, it can be helpful. But, ironically, too much experience can be a liability.
Once you gain a lot of experience, you can get set in your ways and decide you know what will work and what won’t.
I am making this up, but I am willing to bet that the people at Blockbuster knew–based on their experience–that no one would ever rent movies via mail and so they dismissed NetFlix, when it was first beginning, out of hand.
Conversely, a lack of experience be an advantage. Because you don’t know how things are supposed to be done, you can forge your own path.
So, in my way of looking at things, observation and experience get full marks. Experience is worth half of either one.
And that brings to the quiz itself.
If You Are Scoring At Home
On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your powers of observation. Are you always looking at things and finding patterns and saying “hmm, I wonder why they did X like that.”
If you do that every minute of every day, in every situation everywhere, give yourself a 10. If you constantly walk around in a fog, give yourself a 1. If you fall somewhere in between, write down the appropriate number.
Take the same approach with imagination.
Are you one of those people who always looks at one thing and see something else (or multiple something elses)? If you are, give yourself a 10.
If what you see is always what you see and clouds in odd shapes are just clouds in odd shapes, write down a 1.
If you fall somewhere in between, give yourself the appropriate score.
As for experience, if you are a complete newbie to the field you are considering award yourself a 2.5. A complete and utter pro 5. Again, if you are in the middle, grade appropriately.
Now, add up the scores.
I would LOVE to hear from successful entrepreneurs what they think the minimum score is. (Please click the “comment button” to tell me.)
But until I do, let me tell you where I come out..
Because I believe everyone is going to have to become an entrepreneur or at the very least master entrepreneurial thought and action in coming years, and because I believe becoming an entrepreneur is less scary than you think, my position is if you scored 16 or higher you should seriously consider that idea you have been toying with (at least on a part-time basis.)
And the higher the score, the more confident you have the right to feel in starting.
Start small. But start.
And do let me know what you scored, and what you think.
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Source: Forbes Business
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