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Ingredients of a Successful Entrepreneur

Written By: Gary 8 July 2010 Other Posts By: Gary

I was fortunate enough to listen to the New York Entrepreneur Week keynote address delivered by James D. Robinson III, Co-Founder & General Partner of RRE Ventures and former Chairman & CEO of American Express.  Given his background and accomplishments, I figured it would be best to take notes! While commenting on his view of business trends occurring in the past, present, and future, he also shared his perspectives on what ingredients make a successful entrepreneur. Below are some of those traits any startup founder should consider practicing.

1) Surround yourself with people smarter than you are.

To be humble and seek out individuals smarter than you is essential to building a team that works towards realizing your vision. There will always be someone better than you at one skill set or the other; the key is to be the centerpiece that brings all these specialized roles together and provide direction towards the end goal.

2) Change is inevitable. Embrace it.

Not being able to adapt to change is business suicide, especially in the day and age we currently live in.  When establishing your startup, focus on having an agile structure for your concept. Positioning your company for change in general ensures you can leverage your resources towards success when change does happen.

3) Listen. Be open to new ideas and alternative perspectives.

One component essential to being a founder of a lean, agile startup is having the ability to listen. Being an effective listener isn’t just hearing what other people say to you. Retain relevant information derived from conversations you feel can help your business. Analyze and dissect any info you receive that complements, as well as challenges, your business idea. After evaluating, implement that feedback into your business process if you conclude it strengthens the foundation of your concept.

4) Be passionate to whatever you do.

This is especially true for early-stage entrepreneurs. When I first founded my venture, one important asset going for me was my passion for my idea. As a founder, you will encounter many frustrating moments and failure, but having a passion for what you do provides the energy and the will to overcome any hurdle that comes your way.

Furthermore, displaying your passion behind your idea attracts talented people to you. Your passion is what inspires others to help you, either by connecting you to people in their network relevant to your idea, providing feedback that can help optimize your concept, or simply e-blast your company to their friends on Facebook or twitter.

5) Integrity matters a lot. Beware the arrogance of success.

This is pretty straightforward. Having a strong value statement for your company helps you stay true to yourself, as well as to your colleagues and customers. You should develop your company around the question “how does my idea help society” as opposed to “how can I make a quick buck?” Utilizing honest business practices ensures long-term success. Being dishonest doesn’t quite work out so well… Bernie Madoff anyone?

6) Diversity is critical

Diversity is essential in developing an agile business model and helps you take advantage of change.  Having a diverse network (backgrounds, cultures, alternative viewpoints) allows you to position your company to take advantage of change. It’s one of the reasons why New York is an optimum location to start your business – the resources available to you in regards to a diverse work pool is superior to any startup scene in the country, if not the world.

Hope this list allows you to reflect on what is required to establish yourself as a successful founder of a company! Good luck and if there’s any other traits you’d like to add to the list, please comment below!

Twitter: @GaryReloj

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