Do You Have Inside You What It Takes to Succeed?
The mandatory virtues of an entrepreneur are ACCOUNTABILITY, HUMILITY and a COMPETITIVE SPIRIT.
These personal virtues are necessary for the entrepreneurial spirit to be successful. It’s why there is such a great bond between entrepreneurs, and why they fight so hard against all measures of socialism. We have excellent examples of this spirit in our community in individuals like Tom Wienkowski, Kirk Kessel, Mike Williams, Jim Stivers, Walter Gatti, Van Jackson, Dr. Rich Levine, Joseph Duda, Jim Barfield, Pam Gatto, Bernie Simpkins, and Mike Shah, to name a few.
It all starts with accountability at the personal level. Entrepreneurs don’t want others providing for them; they desire the freedom to use their capital to create more capital by providing a benefit to their fellow man through a product or service. If you are someone who needs to be taken care of, have others tend to your needs, or believes that government is supposed to provide for you, then owning your own business is not a good idea. Personal accountability is the bottom line denominator of democracy – the free capital markets and the entrepreneur are not afraid of it; in fact, they embrace it.
You must possess the virtue of humility, an understanding that “the business is never about you, but it is always up to you.” This can be the toughest of balancing acts because while every entrepreneur possesses a healthy ego, that ego must not cause imbalance. As a coach, I learned to “respect others, but pay no attention to what they say about you, whether good or bad.”
A competitive spirit is mandatory when operating your own business. Entrepreneurs will always fight to win the friendly game of cards or horseshoes. This sense of competition is misunderstood by many as being arrogant or conceited, when they just simply love a challenge and the spirit of competition. Consequently, many people find the entrepreneur intimidating, which mystifies the real entrepreneur because they see themselves as caring and concerned as well as competitive.
The right mixture of these virtues is rare, but necessary in order to build a business.
Managing through the Danger
The Chinese define “danger” as “crisis and opportunity.” The entrepreneur understands this better than most people because their entire life is “dangerous.” In business, there are a few critical management areas and each carries the “DANGER” sign. If your virtue compass gets off center when managing these areas, any one of them can turn into a crisis; however, each presents a unique opportunity and all must be equally managed.
- Cash: Cash is king, never forget it.
- People: Regardless of your product, you are in the people business
- Legal: It’s one of the necessary evils. Remember, it does not matter how right you are; the only winners in any legal argument are the attorneys. It’s just the way the system is designed.
- Taxes: Another necessary evil. Your accounting system must manage your business, employees and personal tax liability. No wealth can be accumulated without good tax management. You must know your numbers and ratios.
- Technology: The devil is in the details and if you do not deliver value, eventually you will stop growing. Your systems and processes will determine your ability to deliver quality efficiently and effectively time after time with a larger volume.
- Marketing: It’s the ability to create demand for your product, service and brand.
- Sales: Nobody gets paid unless someone sells something – you can forget everything else but this principle. Without sales you have nothing; there are many great products and business plans that never succeed or even get off the ground because nobody associated with the business can sell. In every successful business, there is a “rainmaker.”
Your Responsibilities as an Entrepreneur
Your belief system or philosophies will drive your actions and reactions. As you review these four philosophies, note that the personal virtues return as the core responsibilities.
- People: It starts with you but it is never about you – accountability is the magic ingredient and the entrepreneur takes it on for themselves and those they serve.
- Profit: All businesses must be profitable. The general public is naïve as to what the “not-for-profit” status of a business means. It’s simply a “tax basis” for a company. All individuals, families, companies, organizations, communities, governments, and even “not-for-profit businesses” must operate profitably or they will go out of business.
- Power: Responsibility creates power – to those who much is entrusted, much is demanded. Eat a slice of humble pie daily. If you start to believe that you are all that, just remember that pride goes before a fall.
- Purpose: Life is nothing without purpose. You are a creation and you are intended to create. Life offers us different stages, and your purpose can remain consistent or change through these stages. But life without a purpose is equivalent to a ship without a rudder, and when there is no real purpose in life, we wither and die.