Do You Have the Psychological Traits of an Entrepreneur?

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Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Stop second guessing yourself, because doctors may have found the answer. A team of psychologists in Germany and Switzerland published a report in 2013 that detailed the four major personality traits often shared by successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs. They also discussed the major differences between successful entrepreneurs and successful business owners. Sometimes these two types of professionals overlap, but often times they don’t. That’s why many savvy entrepreneurs end up hiring someone else to be CEO or run their business.

Bear in mind that entrepreneurs make up only 13 percent of the US population, and much fewer than that are actually successful. The reality is that few people are born entrepreneurs, and while you can hone skills, you can’t totally change your personality to fit the perfect profile — or at least you shouldn’t. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean your skills are better than anyone else’s, including successful business owners. Entrepreneurs need to be jacks of all trades and masters of none, which brings us to the first trait:

Entrepreneurs excel at “doing it all.”

Psychologists call this trait being a “generalist.” According to the lead authors of the study, Petra Moog and Uschi Bakes-Gellner, “It is the jacks of all trades across a whole portfolio of individual resources, and not the masters of one, who are likely to become entrepreneurs.” You can’t be really great at one (or a few) things and have zero skills in others. If you’re able to successfully execute projects in multiple areas for your business, you might just be a solid leader in the making.

They’re not yes men and women.

Research found that entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to disagree, because that’s often what it takes to be successful. They can’t be bulldozed and they’re not people pleasers. That’s why some of the most famous entrepreneurs are also notorious. They’re not there to win everyone over, to be the perfect face for the company, or to make things run smoothly on the surface while it’s turbulent underneath. After all, entrepreneurial ventures require risk taking, just like disagreeing does.

They ooze self confidence.

It takes a lot of self-confidence to spearhead a difficult project day in and day out. In some cases, an entrepreneur must “fake it ’til he makes it.” Other times, the entrepreneur must deeply believe in the mission of the venture. Nobody wants to invest or partner in a company where the founder doesn’t seem to be fully behind their own project.

According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, “A lot of progress in the world is driven by the delusional optimism of some people. The people who open small businesses don’t think, ‘I’m facing these [horrible] odds, but I’ll take them anyway.’ They think their business will certainly succeed.”

They’re super-organized planners.

Psychologists call this trait “conscientious.” It can be refined throughout life, but is also innate. In 2003, Pennsylvania College of Technology professor Mark Ciavarella asked 111 business owners what it took to take their business from startup to success. He found that all the successful entrepreneurs were “conscientious,” responsible, organized, and able to plan both short and long term strategies.

Do you have the four major traits of an entrepreneur, or do you fall more into the business management side of things? Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses from the start is the best way to maximize your potential and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Remember that entrepreneurship is a calling and a passion. You can only fake it for so long before you get burned out and realize it may not be for you.

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