Bob Lefsetz is a widely influential expert on the music industry whose blog “The Lefsetz Letter” is must-read material for anyone interested in the latest trends and underlying motivations driving the music and entertainment business. Lefsetz recently posted an article about the ingredients of success in the music business, and how successful succeed not because of their cognitive skills, but because of something more intangible: their character.
If character drives our success, what are the true components of character? Anyone who is trying to succeed as an entrepreneur by starting a business can learn from these ideas about the character of successful people.
Here are the most important aspects of character mentioned in Bob Lefsetz’s article, and some ideas for how you can exhibit and strengthen these characteristics in your journey of starting a business:
- Persistence: When you start a business, you need to be prepared to keep trying and trying and trying, even in the face of failure, rejection and disappointment. But persistence doesn’t mean simply blasting out a lot of e-mails and making lots of cold calls and handing out business cards – it means learning from your mistakes and adjusting your tactics as you go along.
- Self-control: If you have a bad day as an entrepreneur, you need to be the one to tell yourself to “suck it up” and keep moving forward. You can’t afford to mope around and wallow in self pity. You can’t afford to lash out in anger at a bad customer or react poorly to disappointment. There’s an old saying that “life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we choose to respond.” The most successful entrepreneurs are often unflappable in the face of disappointment. They don’t pick fights and they don’t respond to negativity with more negativity – instead, they find a way to improve the situation and learn from it.
- Curiosity: Entrepreneurship is a constant journey of learning. This is one of the greatest things about being an entrepreneur, is that you can guide your own learning and continually bring new ideas into your business.
- Conscientiousness: Successful entrepreneurs tend to be focused on the needs of others. They know how to empathize with customers, with employees, with partners and even with competitors. They are generous with their time, talents and money. They try to make their communities, as well as their companies, a better place. People want to do business with generous people who are willing to share their ideas and build a community that is larger than themselves.
- Grit: Being an entrepreneur requires mental and emotional toughness. If you have to fire an underperforming employee, it’s up to you to be the boss and have that tough conversation. If you have customers that aren’t paying their bills, you need to be the one to get on the phone with them. When you’re running your own business, there’s nowhere to hide and no one else to rely on to make the tough decisions and stand up for your best interests. You need to find that kind of “true grit” inside of yourself.
- Self-confidence: When you decide to start a business, that’s the ultimate act of self-belief. No one else is going to believe in you if you don’t. Every time you reach out to a new customer or expand into a new market, every time you try something new with your business, you are taking a smaller version of that same initial leap of faith.
Success as an entrepreneur is not about “how much you know,” it’s about “who you are” as a person. These elements of character are essential for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Do you recognize these traits in yourself and other entrepreneurs you know? Which characteristics would you consider adding to this list?