Rabeel Warraich, Founder and Managing Director at Sarmayacar, one of Pakistan’s largest Venture Capital firms, spoke at 021Disrupt 2019 where he discussed some of the key traits that make successful entrepreneurs, and the kind of skills that allow them to build successful and dynamic businesses.
However, before you begin reading, keep in mind that this is by no means a rigid, exhaustive list that must be adhered to if you want to be a good entrepreneur. These are not traits that you just have to have before you begin your entrepreneurship journey, or things that investors seek out when looking for startups that they want to learn more about.
It isn’t a checklist; don’t treat it as one.
Instead, take this as a chance to look inside yourself and see if these are qualities that you already possess and, if not, then if they could benefit you and help you become a better entrepreneur.
As a venture capitalist, when Rabeel is meeting startups, it isn’t the product, business plan or even financial characteristics that he pays attention to at first.
It’s the personality of the founder.
A good entrepreneur can take any idea, even a failing business, and make it into a huge success, but give a poor entrepreneur a good business, and watch it go down the drain.
If the head of a business shows the ability to deal with anything that’s thrown at them with grace and poise, then it might be a business worth investing their time, effort and money into.
So here is the list, in no particular order, of traits that make up a successful entrepreneur, at any point in their journey.
Having ambition for your startup is a basic requirement. Look at it as a starting point for any entrepreneur: if you want to attract investments, but you don’t show ambition, how is anyone else supposed to be convinced that your idea is good? Ambition for your startup shows that you are willing to deal with challenges without backing down or giving up.
Rabeel refers to this as that get-out-of-bed, even-when-you-don’t-want-to energy, where you roll up your sleeves and get to work even when you’re way too tired to. Drive shows discipline, and a founder who is disciplined is more likely to get work done than one without.
A charismatic entrepreneur is someone who is able to pull together a good team that will stick with them through thick and thin, while also being able to help their team members reach their individual potential.
Being able to deal with failures and see them as learning experiences, and come out of the other side shining, with better ideas and techniques, is a shining quality to have. If you’re someone who falters and gives up every time you’re faced with a disappointment, then maybe rethink your career choices. Entrepreneurship comes with risk of failure, and moving forward while knowing these risks is what shows grit.
A good leader is never hesitant. Making quick, unbiased decisions, whether it’s about your product or your team, and being firm about what is helping you grow and shedding what’s weighing you down can make all the difference in the growth of a company.
One of the most basic traits to have, no matter what position you work in, is being able to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes.
Empathy is important and should be shown, before anyone else, to your team and employees. If you see your employees as workers and nothing else, chances are you won’t be able to retain them for too long. Building your business with empathy at its foundation also means that you’ll be able to treat your customer and consumers the same say you yourself would want to be treated.
A founder that shows humility is a founder that suggests coachability. If you go to a VC bursting at the seams with arrogance, acting like you already know all there is to know, that you don’t need their help, then why would they want to to invest in you? Having a learning attitude and a willingness to recognize your weaknesses is a good thing, and gives you the opportunity to grow and evolve.
Again, this is not a checklist. There’s also no perfect mix of traits, and having more of one trait and less of other doesn’t make you any better or worse than anyone else.
There’s no such thing as the perfect entrepreneur, so take this with a grain of salt. What’s important is knowing where your strength and weaknesses lie, and working on honing them until all the gaps are filled.