What kind of knowledge, skills, and personality traits are common in successful entrepreneurs? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The traits that drive startup founders forward are sometimes seen in a negative light.
Entrepreneurs can be seen as aggressive, impatient, hard-headed. And yes, there are plenty of founders who fit that description.
But that’s only because entrepreneurs usually have a strong instinct around what products will work for people. They push ahead even when others can’t see what they’re after.
And not all of the traits that lead to entrepreneurial success are viewed so negatively. In fact, many of the attributes founders tend to share are essential to their success in relating to others and figuring out what people need.
Here’s what I’ve noticed while collaborating with entrepreneurs at Y Combinator and working on several startups:
Technology develops at different rates and in different ways around the world. Curiosity about those differences is an important attribute for any entrepreneur.
Each country has their own interesting, unique economy. And although people in China, the U.S., Japan, or Korea have a common set of desires, they also have different business and social climates. So, people in each place tend to come up with solutions that are distinct from other parts of the world.
I’d encourage any budding entrepreneur to take a trip to China and witness how technology is developing there. Absorbing differing ideas and concepts is a valuable experience for a founder.
2. A Sense of Impatience
Entrepreneurs need impatience in order to recognize inefficiencies and capitalize on them.
People often think of impatience as an unsavory personality trait. But it can actually be very beneficial for an entrepreneur who’s trying to create a product that solves an inefficient situation.
Part of the reason I started Spin was because I was constantly waiting on Ubers to pick me up and work their way through the traffic around my office. I was impatient, and I decided to craft a solution for my problem rather than waiting around for someone else to solve it.
On some level, most people understand there’s a better way to do things. And they’d choose that better way if it were available. Taking action and pursuing that solution is what sets entrepreneurs apart.
It’s important for any entrepreneur to have a good network of like-minded people to engage with and use for support. It helps tremendously to have people around you who are constantly looking for and solving problems.
I’ve noticed that great ideas often come from casual meetings and brainstorming sessions. It’s not necessarily one person in a garage coming up with a world-changing idea and then championing it all the way to a multi-million dollar exit.
Being social and developing that group gives you an opportunity to brainstorm and confirm your ideas and concepts with other people.
4. Attention To Basic Human Needs
The basic necessities of a happy life should always be on an entrepreneurs mind. Food, shelter, companionship, entertainment, simplicity–these are all things that people either need or have a strong desire to obtain.
And entrepreneurs have to learn to be perceptive about the problems and inefficiencies around them that relate to human needs.
If you’re paying attention to what people require, you can find opportunities to improve their experience and help in their pursuits of those needs. Those are the ideas that people will engage with and come to rely on–the ones that help them obtain the essential things in life.
There are plenty of ways to solve a puzzle. For instance, some people just start picking up pieces and seeing what fits. And that can work, but the task becomes much easier when you begin to think about why each piece fits where it does.
For example, bikeshare companies in China are virtually free because they are largely subsidized by two internet giants–Alibaba and Tencent. But in the U.S., Facebook and Google aren’t in the business of funding bikeshare companies.
So, while the general idea of sharing bikes could be transplanted, we knew we had to think about what reasoning would actually make sense in the US. And we eventually had to change the business model to rely more on per-ride revenue.
Every entrepreneur has to find the balance between stubbornness and flexibility.
You have to be stubborn enough to keep persevering and working on your idea, even when people tell you it’s silly or you begin to doubt yourself. But you also need to have the flexibility to recognize your first attempt may have been off the mark.
That’s happening right now at Spin. We began with bike sharing, but eventually we realized scooters are the better product for American cities. At the outset, we understood the problem, but we didn’t have the exact solution nailed down. We’re staying flexible enough to recognize a better solution when we see it.
There’s nothing wrong with tweaking your idea or pivoting to respond to consumer demands. It’s just one of several qualities an entrepreneur can benefit from.
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