Why Very Few Entrepreneurs Succeed (And Why Majority Fail)

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An entrepreneur is defined as an individual who starts a business and is willing to take risks to make money. The success of an entrepreneur is generally determined by the ability to do this effectively, which is quite a feat, considering that the vast majority of startups fail. In addition to financial rewards such as income, revenue and profit, business experts also argue that success for an entrepreneur can be defined by other factors. For example, the degree of intellectual stimulation, the status of a personal brand, or the ability to give something back to a community. Whatever defines success, entrepreneurs usually share a range of characteristics and personality traits.

Anatomy of An Entrepreneur

A recent infographic from a study by the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship digs a little deeper into the “anatomy” of successful entrepreneurs, with a focus on factors such as the human psyche, class upbringing, work experience, and marital status. Three quarters of the 549 business founders surveyed said that “becoming wealthy” was one of the primary motivators for going it alone, but this came from a position of relative stability and comfort as 75.4 percent said that they had been working for a third party for at least six years before starting their business, while 70 percent were married and 60 percent had children.

The ability to pursue entrepreneurship effectively also appears to date back to childhood in some form as 71.5 percent of respondents came from a middle-class home, and respondents had an average of more than three siblings, which may have instilled more of a competitive streak at an early age. Higher education is also a major trend for new entrepreneurs as 95.1 percent started out with at least a bachelor’s degree and three-quarters said that they were among the highest achievers academically when at school.

While these factors provide a grounding for entrepreneurs, work experience is arguably more important for attaining the skills and life experience needed to go on and succeed, as respondents had an average age of 40 before founding their first company, and four in ten said that overcoming and learning from failures was “extremely important.” A sizeable 96 percent also said that prior work experience was a prerequisite for doing well in all areas of business. These factors are not always a hard or fast path to entrepreneurship, but they can increase the likelihood of long-term success.

Top Traits – Leadership and Motivation

Every entrepreneur has a unique set of soft and hard skills, but there are several traits that can be identified as being crucial to becoming an accomplished businessman or woman. The first of these is strong leadership qualities. Entrepreneurs set themselves apart through their ability to lead, make critical decisions, and guide others, and though the “leaders are born, not made” mantra is true to a certain extent, experience and learned skills can develop and strengthen the ability to manage and direct effect. As a leader, you will need to be tenacious, have excellent communication skills, be able to earn the trust and respect of a team and foster an environment where these values flourish.

Entrepreneurship is an act of change and progress, so self-motivation is vital for driving positive actions and ensuring that your business remains on an upward trajectory in the wake of setbacks and ongoing challenges. Motivation must also be linked with a clear sense of direction. You must channel your energies into the right areas. Today’s business landscape is constantly in flux, so you will need to be able to address short-term problems and have the vision to target long-term objectives. Set clear goals for yourself and your employees, and work diligently until they are achieved.

Failure And the Support of Family

Change can lead to failure, but you must be prepared to overcome significant hurdles and have the personality to learn and grow from mistakes and disappointment. The difficulties associated with entrepreneurship are perhaps why many men and women started a business for the first time later in life. The support system offered by the family can be invaluable when going it alone, and it can provide an additional sense of purpose and direction. For example, the support provided by Keith Krach’s wife, who he met at the Sigma Chi Fraternity, has been central to his success as a businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist with enterprises such as Ariba and DocuSign.

Recognize When You Need Help

Success doesn’t mean doing everything yourself in a business environment. You will need to build a strong network of contacts, peers, and partners and nurture these relationships. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg believes that surrounding yourself with other motivated and successful people can really make a difference. “No one does it alone,” Zuckerberg says. “When you look at most big things that get done in the world, they’re not done by one person, so you’re going to need to build a team.” He adds: “No matter how talented you are, there are just going to be things that you don’t bring to the table.”

There are other personality traits that are desirable for an entrepreneur, including self-discipline and integrity. While taking risks is a necessity, you also need to know when to step back, take heed of the situation, and make calculated decisions. You should also be honest in everything that you do and aim to build integrity through your actions. In conclusion, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. You can build on each individual experience, learn and grow, and with each step forward, you will be closer to the success that you crave.


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