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Thoughts on entrepreneurship from a global coach

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
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Can an entrepreneur be developed or are they simply born that way? This is a question to which many budding entrepreneurs and corporate executives who are required to pivot want the answer – and fast.

Thankfully, it’s a resounding yes! An entrepreneur can be developed. As it happens, being successful professionally is less about innate personality and birthright and more about a state of mind or attitude. Let’s look at what really makes these people tick, and how you can emulate their success.

Working as a coach for many years with founders of high-growth ventures and with corporate leaders, I’ve had the privilege of studying some incredible humans. Regardless of where they are on their entrepreneurial pathway, the conversation always turns to figuring out the common denominators of highly-effective people – and whether they can be modelled. Peering inside the minds of entrepreneurs to understand their motivations and attitudes has now become somewhat of an obsession!

Maybe, like me, you’re curious about what drives these passionate, mission-led people who walk (or sprint!) the path of entrepreneurship, often without a blueprint for what success or failure looks like. How do they think, act and make decisions? Is there an X factor that can be used to predict and fast-track the success of entrepreneurs? Is it really as simple as copying their attitude?

In a ground-breaking report of global 'best-in-class', a group of entrepreneurs who'd started and exited a business (or multiple businesses) within five years, for a full or partial sale price between $6 million – $1.2 billion were studied. In the study a ‘motivation’ refers to a preference, style or attitude, which is quite different to fixed personality traits. Attitudes and motivations show up in what we prioritise and pay attention to, what we avoid and what we're potentially blind to. They become embedded in our leadership style and can drive, sometimes without conscious awareness, the quality of our decision-making and our relational and business outcomes. The results are very telling, showing clearly what distinguishes these entrepreneurs from the rest of the working population (WP).

Top 10 factors that drive entrepreneurial success

High motivation and focus on:

  1. Abstract global thinking and communication styles – 30%> WP
  2. Personal and organisational power – 33%> WP
  3. Trusting ‘gut feel’ and intuition in decision making – 34%> WP
  4. Initiating and starting things – 40%> WP
  5. Money, P&L, margins, budget forecasts and other commercial aspects of the business – 43%> WP

Low motivation and focus on:

  1. Asserting rules, values and modes of conduct on others – 17%< WP
  2. Details – 24%< WP
  3. Following procedures – 28%< WP
  4. Externally referencing others in decision making – 41%< WP
  5. Structure and planning – 42%< WP

Compare your attitudes and motivations

To help clients understand the key attitudes and motivations of successful entrepreneurs, I use an 'evidence-based' role model rather than a ‘personality trait’ model. The survey tool called Fingerprint for Success measures 48 different thinking patterns – I then debrief the results to compare and contrast with the key success factors of those who reached venture success. Sometimes the results are alarming or surprising, but it’s always evident that attitude has a huge impact on profitability. Fortunately, our attitudes and motivations are adaptable. The key is knowing what needs to shift and how. That’s where the support of a professional coach is vital. Research shows that with a focused development plan and accountability, specific attitudes can be dialled up or down, resulting in positive changes to business results.

So, how do you compare? If you’re keen on achieving more, I encourage you to self-assess against the 10 factors above and notice where your motivation for each is sitting. What feels more natural or comes easily to you? Where are you in alignment with each factor? For example, do you feel energy for initiating things and turning your ideas into action and profitability? Where is this showing up in the results you get? How can you supercharge this attitude for even greater impact?

On the flip side, where might you be out of alignment with the 10 factors? What feels like a struggle most of the time? For example, do you get so bogged down in details and planning before you start taking action that you're potentially missing opportunities? What can you do to alter that attitude?

Change begins with awareness. But understanding what makes successful entrepreneurs tick is just the beginning. Learning how your own motivations compare, then taking actionable steps to better model the desirable behaviours and attitudes, is critical.

Wishing everyone from the aspiring, to the established entrepreneurs, true success and adventure – Kathy Rodwell, global coach

Who is Kathy Rodwell?

Kathy coaches senior executives, C-suites, entrepreneurs and founders to improve their results and personal fulfilment. She does this as a leadership coach to clients in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, and within high-growth ventures. If you'd like a copy of the full report or have any questions on this article, you're invited to contact Kathy directly here.

– The Coach Place Global

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