Personality traits that make a successful entrepreneur
Posted Monday, July 9 2012 at 20:19
During a recent seminar, we were discussing entrepreneurial traits. I literally held my breath as one man gave an account of the tribulations he went through establishing his business 10 years ago.
Gideon left his managerial job in a microfinance institution — now a bank — to start his own training and consultancy firm. He had just gotten married and his wife was still in college but the desire to start own business was unstoppable. Armed with self-confidence, determination and faith, he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey.
As the sole breadwinner, he had heeded experts’ advice to save at least six months equivalent of average monthly expenses before resigning.
He discussed this with his wife and both agreed to adopt an austerity budget to ensure the money lasts until the business starts to generate enough profit, hopefully in six months. After this, they would lead a lifestyle of their choice.
But the worst happened. In a dramatic twist of fate, six months after he started his business, he was a fugitive running away from debtors and playing hide-and-seek with suppliers and auctioneers.
He spent most of time calming angry customers whose orders were either not processed on time or whose expectations had not been met, training new staff as turnover was very high, negotiating with lenders to give him more time or pleading with bank managers to pay his cheques or give advances against uncleared effects.
Rather than work in productive areas of his business, he found himself playing the role of a ‘firefighter’.
This sucked all his energies and killed his creativity.
The passion he had initially started to fade and he dreaded every dawn of a new day. After two years, he was deep in debt with no sign of respite on sight. His wife was distressed by the level of debts they were in, although he said that “what she knew was just a tip of the iceberg.”
His wife and relatives tried to persuade him to consider quitting business and seeking employment. They reasoned that with his sociology degree and past experience, he could easily get a well-paying job. His wife even went a step ahead and started writing job application letters on his behalf .
At some point he even started wondering whether he made the right decision to join business in the first place.
He then realised he was trapped in it. He could not quit because he was so deep in debt that no job would give him enough income to pay his debtors.
Fortunately, things started getting better in 2003 after the economic boom. Within the next two years his business had grown by over 500 per cent.
The rest is history.
When asked which entrepreneurial traits that made him hold on when anything that could go wrong was going wrong, he singled out courage. His said: “In my office I have a pin up with the words: ‘Audacity will often get you into trouble, but even more audacity will get you out’”.