Five Traits of Successful Business Starters

As a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple companies over the years, I have often asked myself “what drives me to start these businesses when so many people are content to sit behind a desk and work for someone else?” Given that the pet industry is full of entrepreneurial-minded people, many of you may ask yourselves the same thing. Was I born – or made – this way?

The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University (and my alma mater) recently tackled this question in an informative article from their alumni magazine. The director, Jerry White, has been teaching a class on entrepreneurship at SMU for 30 years and certainly has formed his opinion regarding “born versus made.” He believes it is a combination of both genetic factors and learned skills/behavior. But regardless of where your entrepreneurial flair comes from, Jerry White believes you share these five unique traits that successful entrepreneurs typically have in common:

  1. Relentlessly Pursue Growth. A true entrepreneur pursues opportunities without regard to resource constraints. If I need it, I’ll get it.” White emphatically explains. “Entrepreneurship implies growth.”
  2. Have Stamina. High performance entrepreneurs are typically realistic individuals who possess a never-ending sense of urgency. They don’t waste time agonizing over failure. Instead, they view circumstances as they exist and resolve to leverage them to their advantage. (or write a book, which is what I did after suffering through the worst failure of my career)
  3. Write Your Own Rules. Entrepreneurs typically have superior capacity to analyze complex situations and think creatively to solve problems. They thrive well in chaotic environments (what’s more chaotic then a pet store?), and make sound decisions when confronted with conditions characterized by a scarcity of relevant information. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be able to live on the edge.  To be looking where no one else is looking, where the rules have yet to be written.  Where a market hasn’t yet been established.” Claims Scott Walker, CEO of ProCore Labs and true serial entrepreneur.
  4.  Take Challenges, But Don’t Gamble.  The stereotype of entrepreneurs as bold risk takers – gamblers who best the farm on a long shot – is more cliché then reality.  ‘Long-term successful entrepreneurs are moderate risk takers. White insists.  “On the average, gamblers are losers.  It is more helpful to talk about entrepreneurs as challenge takers, rather than risk takers.
  5.  Remain Disciplined, Not Distracted.  Successful entrepreneurs stay very focused on solving problems, and they assiduously avoid distractions from side issues.  They face challenges head on, often reveling in the challenge of making game-changing decisions.  Yet what many aspiring entrepreneurs may not realize is that coming up with a world-changing idea and developing a company is the easy part.  The tough part involved the discipline of execution.  In plain and simple terms:  It’s All About The Execution.

There are a million ideas out there – being a true entrepreneur is taking that idea and creating a viable, profitable company around that idea. 

Carol Frank of Boulder, CO, is the founder of four companies in the pet industry. As a Managing Director at SDR Ventures Investment Bank, Carol leads the team in executing pet industry transactions including M&A, capital formation and strategic advisory services.  She is also the owner of BirdsEye Consulting, the consummate source for pet sector consulting expertise in market research, licensing, executive recruiting, and sales channel strategy. She can be reached at