Psychology of an Entrepreneur
Updated: Oct 10
After a decade of being an entrepreneur, I’d say, the journey of starting one’s own business feels more like an amusement park ride. You know that it’s going to be fun, which is why you got on it, in the first place. But there’s no telling if you will be screaming, laughing, or crying through the ride.
Entrepreneurship and business leadership are filled with uncomfortable moments, those that make you doubt your path. No person is born an entrepreneur (although the kids who run lemonade stands would have you believe otherwise!). Qualities of an entrepreneurial mindset can be developed and nurtured in anyone, who wishes to take their passion in this direction.
Characteristics of a successful entrepreneur
People who venture out on their own in business, give up their current comforts to chase a vision they are passionate about, one that may or may not ultimately pan out. While never guaranteed, when success does finally knock at an entrepreneur’s door, it is generally satisfying beyond their wildest dreams.
While many people are not cut out for this lifestyle, there is no denying that the entrepreneurial mindset is one of the most sought after in today’s business world. It is a mindset that has been developed over years of hard work, failure, and perseverance. Based on the psychological theory of entrepreneurship, the following are some common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs:
1. Courageous risk takers
One of the necessities of starting a business is the courage to believe in one’s future path. However, the notion that every entrepreneur would naturally be a gambling risk-taker has often been debunked. Although, the concept of entrepreneurship and business leadership requires one to take on a degree of instability in their life. The truth is that most founders (including this writer) are cautious and calculated when taking risks, especially in the first few years. The only bet founders place is, on themselves.
Passion is the cornerstone of entrepreneurial leadership. Having a genuine love for your business idea makes starting a venture more fun and rewarding. Plus, you’ll find it simpler to handle the imminent upcoming challenges of a new business. As we’ve often heard, if you love what you do, you won’t have worked a day in your life.
3. Resilient and determined
The journey of chasing a rainbow, so to speak, needs a certain degree of stubbornness in your beliefs. Starting a business requires you to have the inner power to wipe out negative voices (and believe me, there will be plenty of those around you). While everyone may think you may not make it; you need to be pretty determined to see your business idea through.
4. Lifelong learner
In business, as in life, there are lessons to be learned, every day. Self-correction is a much-required entrepreneurial leadership trait in someone starting out on their own since, at least initially. You will lack the benefits of a corporate job environment with outside voices, like bosses and teammates. Adapting to evolving situations requires a growth mindset, and the ability to draw valuable insights from your operations over a period of time.
People who are intrinsically disciplined and self-driven do really well at running their own businesses. A commitment to oneself becomes the key parameter for how an entrepreneur handles projects, deadlines, and the daily schedule. Every founder learns quickly that with no ‘other boss’ to oversee your work, the buck stops at you.
Having met many fellow founders in my own entrepreneurial journey, I’ve noticed that most of the ones that don’t make it, go in with unreal expectations of their business idea being a fast track to financial success. Every long-term businessperson knows that the path of creation and learning, takes patience, and the resilience to stick it out through the rough patches.
7. Follows instinct
The ability to follow one’s deep gut instinct on decisions is an entrepreneur’s secret tool; knowing that if a decision doesn’t ‘feel’ right in the pit of the stomach, it’s best to take note of that instinct and tweak it accordingly. I’ve found myself walking away, without a second thought, from a deal or a client that doesn’t sit well in my gut.
What are some downsides of being an entrepreneur?
The process of giving up the stability of a day job, to take on the challenges of a day-n-night job requires a certain kind of psychology, better known as the ‘Entrepreneurial Mindset’. Going onto the path of starting a business with your eyes open, will save much heartache down the line.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that this journey is lonely and all-consuming, at least at the beginning, and requires long hours of solo thinking and planning. Ensure your personality is suited to working alone.
Business numbers become an obsession for a founder. Having key metrics for your start-up in place, along with a clear vision for achieving financial targets, is essential.
As you start, you will need to be ready to handle every aspect of your business (even the unpleasant tasks). During my early days of starting a catering business, I’d often joke about being its co-founder and dishwasher!
The flexibility to adapt, and pivot a new business to evolving circumstances, is essential to getting things going in the right direction.
Even experts in their industry need time to start and ramp up their business ventures. Expertise in your field may be a given, but growing a company from scratch takes time and patience.
In a study, it was found that 82% of small business owners struggle with imposters syndrome, which refers to the feeling of comparison and not measuring up to others. Developing a healthy ego and strong entrepreneurial leadership skills will help founders get over these feelings, since, faith in one’s skills and business ideas, is essential for running a business.
It is typically said, that those who have no expectations, will seldom be disappointed by the outcome. And one of the foremost requirements of an entrepreneurial mindset needs you to let go of expectations, and give in, as your business idea takes on a life of its own.