If you are an enthusiastic and regular user of LinkedIn, it is difficult to avoid the almost daily utterances, adages and words of great wisdom from business icons such as Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and Elon Musk (amongst others). Whether willingly or not, we the readers are able to bask in the reflected glory of their inspirational rise to fame and success, or more negatively perhaps, get quietly depressed about our own sense of achievement and/or status in the world (or is this just me?).
Whether you consider yourself to be the “Sage of Sidcup” or a “Visionary from Ventnor”, there can be little doubt that many successful business leaders now enjoy celebrity status, and that success in business has for many of us, become a more common aspirational goal. But what do these business icons have that we don’t? Have they simply just been lucky in their dealings, with fate and good timing playing a part?
Well in my experience, exceptional leaders are exceptional leaders no matter what they do – and someone like Richard Branson for example is a classic case in point, as he has had considerable success across many different areas of business – so he can hardly be described as simply “lucky”. Warren Buffet and Elon Musk are the same, but below this layer of iconic super stardom, there are many levels of successful entrepreneurship throughout British business that never make the headlines.
But that aside, I am interested in analysing what makes successful entrepreneurs different or stand out from the crowd? Having worked for one or two over the years, I would say that in broad terms their qualities can largely be broken down into six major attributes:-
Drive – A much used “buzz word” now I know, but drive is more than just ambition, as it is the mind-set, belief and personal commitment that fuels ambition, and makes everything possible and NOT just simply probable.
Energy – In most people, levels of energy ebb and flow – but successful entrepreneurs resolutely use their energy to fuel their self-belief, and consequently they can cover a lot of ground across many related areas during their everyday business dealings.
Attention to detail – Make no mistake, success/failure can often at times depend on extremely small margins. Planning is key, and often a under rated part of their success.
Discipline – Both personally and generally. Not sexy I know, but successful entrepreneurs often go through hard times just like the rest of us – but they make sacrifices that others would not willingly choose to make, and often hold themselves personally accountable for all potential outcomes.
Judgment – Almost every successful entrepreneur you could name will tell you that they have learnt far more from personal adversity than they ever did from their success. The point here is that being able to constantly learn through experience is essential if your aim is renewed or long term success.
Independence of thought and mind – Successful entrepreneurs are not “followers” as such, even if businesses they run have not re-invented the wheel. They are not shackled for example by, a lack of formal education or accepted wisdom or convention – as they think independently and maybe see issues more clearly as a result.
So, do you recognise such qualities in either yourself or your work colleagues? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t, as in my experience, it is simply a question of “horses for courses”, as a great many business people have found fame and success through hard work, skill and commitment working within a larger organisation. Such a career path may well be less overtly heralded – but in all likelihood, a lot more secure.
The author of this article is Peter Nicholls CEO of ideology consulting. For more information, go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk .