Entrepreneurial leadership requires the ability to move quickly when the opportunity presents itself. – Brian Tracy
There is a widely held notion that good managerial skills have nothing to do with becoming a successful entrepreneur, or that successful entrepreneurs cannot really be good managers. Well, this is a common stereotype that might be true in some cases but not universally.
A manager is considered good if he/she can effectively manage people and operations. This means someone with a multi-tasking work style who can plan for both the short- and long-term goals of the organisation. Are these not similar to the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur? Though the skills required in running a start-up are extensive and wide-ranging, many do match those of a good manager, albeit to a varying degree.
The core competence area of good managers is to get the very best out of the people they manage. And what makes a successful entrepreneur? Though strong technical skills and expertise in a key area help, they are not defining characteristics of entrepreneurship. One needs to be creative, to keep going even while facing the hardest times, build teams and manage them effectively.
If you want to become an entrepreneur, you have to develop some specific skills that underpin the qualities of innovation and resourcefulness. And if you are already a good manager, chances of you grasping novel concepts and ideas and implementing them are high because, being a manager, you are generally expected to develop business ideas and take things forward.
Traits of successful entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is action-oriented; involves calculated risks and much planning; starts small and grows steady. Successful entrepreneurs have certain traits in common. Let’s explore these traits.
Analyse your characteristics, beliefs and values and see if you have traits that are typical of successful entrepreneurs.
They are optimistic thinkers, have a vision and inspire other people to engage with that vision, are capable of taking the initiative to instructively start problem-solving, motivated to lead others, have drive and persistence, resilient with the ability to take risks in uncertain situations and have the courage to overcome the fear of failure.
When you run a business, the onus is on you for a lot of things, one being working closely with people, where it is critical to be able to build great relationships with shareholders, investors, customers, employees and suppliers. If you are not gifted with this skill, you can learn and develop it.
You should be skilled to lead and motivate others to follow your vision, able to delegate your work to others, able to communicate well, able to sell your vision, be an active and empathetic listener, emotionally intelligent, a good negotiator and be able to lead ethically.
Creativity is a skill that you can develop if you are not born with it. An entrepreneur is expected to come up with fresh ideas and create opportunities and potential projects. Being a good manager, you already have creative thinking skills. All you need to do is put some time and effort into brushing these up.
Entrepreneurship would require you to see situations from diverse perspectives and come up with original ideas. There is no business that is free of problems. A successful entrepreneur comes up with sound solutions to all the problems as and when they arise. Also, you must be able to recognise opportunities when they arise and spot a trend and accordingly plan, taking advantage of the situation.
A lot is involved when you run a company. You should be able to set goals and then create a plan to achieve them. Of course, no organisation functions successfully without an aim, and a plan to achieve that aim. You must be able to create a well-thought-through business plan and make decisions by weighing potential consequences.
Innovative ideas and opportunities are two key drivers that lead famous people to entrepreneurship. Many people are either determined to become their own boss or want to use their skills for entrepreneurial motives.
Passion, patience, long-term strategy
Overall experience and skills in the niche area are not enough to become a successful entrepreneur, there is a certain set of skills that will help you reach your goal. While you need passion and patience to run a business, you also need to learn these critical skills that are integral to your success in future roles. Additionally, entrepreneurial and managerial personality is a significant psychological variable in the success of the business as well as from the perspective of long-term business goals.
Success in a business doesn’t come overnight. You need to have a long-term strategy and build it up in baby steps until it becomes a success. You need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and even be ready to fail. Finding success as an entrepreneur is no easy task, but if you are good at your managerial skills, these simple tips, will make it a lot easier.
Remember, be a good listener and listen to complaints of your team and customers. This is often forgotten but so important to be successful in your role. If you are ambitious, willing to learn, confident and courageous, the path is all yours.
(The author is Director, FORE School of Management, Delhi.)