I’m interested in what makes a good entrepreneur. I’m interested in success. I confess I have been interested in this topic since I was a teenager. My mum grew up very near to where Lord Alan Sugar grew up – and yet at the time he was heading up the computer company Amstrad whereas my parents were running a small microcomputer business, selling, amongst other things, Amstrads. I describe in my first book, Raise Your Game more about how my interest in success was first about my personal success, and later became about enabling others. Still, I digress slightly.
I’m still curious about success and the factors that cause success. I often use the lens of happiness and well-being as a filter to look at success – as the latest research is showing that success often FOLLOWS happiness, whereas most people think they will be happy AFTER “___________” has happened.
Book Review: The Complete Turtle Trader
I therefore read with interest a book called The Complete Turtle Trader. It’s the true story about how a bunch of novice investors were given the technical skills (and money) which enabled them to become millionaires, literally overnight. They were working, essentially as employees in a structured environment, taking a percentage of profits from investing the founder’s money. They were “traders”, buying and selling shares, commodities and foreign exchange. They were following a system set up, in what was a social experiment by the founder to see if “anyone” could learn to trade commodities given the right tools.
Without giving a spoiler, overnight the structure was removed. The book is interesting on a number of levels, one of the interesting things for me was how the individuals fared longer term. Most, if not all of the individual had the technical skills to “go it alone”, but not all of them succeeded in business. Michael Covel, the author of The Complete Turtle Trader noted that they were missing key entrepreneur skills.
So, what makes a good entrepreneur?
Gerber, author of the E-Myth describes 3 essential areas of focus of business owners, the technician, the entrepreneur and the manager. The novice investors were given the technical skills, which essentially worked well when they were employed, but not all of them had the entrepreneurial skills. Covel references some research by academics Upton & Sexton.
9 traits possessed by entrepreneurs:
- Nonconformists – lower need to conform indicating self reliance
- Emotionally aloof – not necessarily cold to others, but can be oblivious
- Sky divers – lower concern for physical harm, but does change with age
- Risk takers – more comfortable taking it
- Socially adroit – more persuasive
- Autonomous – higher need for independence
- Change seekers – like novel approaches. This is different (apparently) from 99% of all other people
- Energetic – higher need and / or ability to work longer
- Self-sufficient – don’t need much sympathy or reassurance, but they still need to form networks so self-sufficiency need not be taken to extremes.
Whilst some of these traits don’t necessarily sound like ones to aspire to, I don’t necessarily think that we are born with these traits, although I’m sure people have bigger doses of them than others. I believe they can develop over time. For example, as a business owner you’re already doing something slightly non-conforming by not having a traditional job. But over time as your business develops it’s likely that you’ll be doing things differently – perhaps not coming in 9 – 5 …. and thus you start to see the world differently. When you understand the impact of taking responsibility you’re likely to become a bit distant from people who whine and whinge.
What are your thoughts on what makes a good entrepreneur? Do you think you’ve developed the traits, or did you always have them?