Last week, I was invited to be a guest speaker for an Entrepreneurial Marketing class at the University of Washington. There were twenty business major undergraduates in the class plus a few MBA students. I enjoyed the interaction with the students who asked me many great questions. One of my favorites was, “What are the three most important characteristics for entrepreneurs?”
My answer was as follows: 1) A willingness to take risks, 2) a willingness to seek help, and 3) the ability to keep a vision alive. At the end of the Q/A session, I announced a giveaway for a business coaching session. I asked the class if there was anyone in attendance who wanted to start a business in 6 months. When two students raised their hands, I decided to give them both a complimentary coaching session.
Then their professor, James Reinnoldt, intervened. He asked the same questions again and said he knew more than two students wanting to start their own businesses. I saw more hands go up due to their professor’s encouragement. I hope this experience will serve as a strong example that calculated risks are keys to new opportunities.
More words about the three characteristics:
- Willingness to take risks: Even something as simple as raising a hand can feel like a risk for someone who is not expressive or assertive. The good news is, as a behavioral preference and not a competency, this risk-taking is still something anyone can do. While those with the inclination towards it find it easier and derive energy from the experience, others may feel drained by it. Whatever is the case, the beauty of challenging yourself is a requirement of being a strong entrepreneur.
- Willingness to ask for help: As the saying goes, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. There are more resources than you can imagine for the budding entrepreneur, so more often than not, if you are willing to ask for help, you will get it. Like risk-taking, asking for help is not a competency to develop, but rather a tendency to encourage. When you are willing to open yourself up, you will find your world gets bigger, and you can do so much more with the right support than you can alone.
- Ability to keep vision alive: Entrepreneurs who have a compelling vision for their business and are able to keep that vision to life are the ones who can bring their business to the next level with enthusiasm. Vision inspires us to move forward without getting bogged down by everyday life or distracted by unimportant tasks.
Are you an entrepreneur? What are your thoughts about these three characteristics?
About the Author:
Hsuan-hua Chang, an executive / business coach, believes “Leaders Empower Leaders™”. She is a certified leadership coach by Georgetown University and has been coaching business leaders over 10 years. Hsuan-hua also has over 20 years of experience in wireless technology, holding many corporate positions ranging from software engineer, technical architect to product marketing manager. She has worked with many teams and created collaboration to deliver extraordinary results.
She is currently looking for team building and business coaching opportunities to help businesses to grow.