Allen Baler: What’s It Take to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

Allen Baler on successful entrepreneurs

When I meet new people and they learn that I launched a company nine years ago that is still thriving, invariably I get asked some of the same questions.


“What products do you sell?” “How many employees do you have?” “How did you do it?”


And because I tend to gravitate toward people who are considering starting up their own companies, the one question I ALWAYS get asked is, “How do I know if I have the right temperament to be an entrepreneur?”


It Takes More Than Personality or Intelligence


Many of these people are big-picture extroverts who wonder if they are detailed-oriented enough to run a business. Others are detail-oriented introverts who wonder if they have the ability to focus on the big picture.


Some of them have exceptionally high IQs but are concerned about their ability to present their product in a way everyone can understand. Others have a lot more common sense than book smarts, but they’re worried they might not be intelligent enough to run a company.


One of the things I’ve learned about entrepreneurship through the years – and this is also the single greatest thing about being an entrepreneur – is that it takes all kinds.


There is no reason why an introvert can’t be just as successful as an extrovert when it comes to launching and developing a great company. And there’s no reason why the guy or gal who excels in common sense can’t be just as prosperous as the person with a super high intellect.


How is that possible? It’s simple. The traits that enable one to become a successful entrepreneur are not about personality types and IQ. They are traits that anyone can possess, but I will say it’s very difficult to make it as an entrepreneur without them.


When the Rubber Hits the Road, These Traits Trump All Others


So, what are these traits that entrepreneurs need to succeed? Here are five that come to mind:


  • Passion. Regardless of whether you are high-strung or low-key, if you don’t have an overriding passion for what you’re trying to accomplish, you should probably work for someone who does. There are many obstacles along the road to starting and running a company, and without that passion, it’s just not going to happen.


  • Tenacity. Some of those roadblocks I just mentioned are going to knock you down from time to time. I can pretty much guarantee it. If the entrepreneurial path were smooth sailing all the way, a lot more people would be traveling it. You’re going to need determination, persistence and resilience to deal with the inevitable problems.


  • Fear Management. I know this sounds like a strange one, but fear is something that every business builder encounters. How you handle it is crucial. Fear of failure – and trust me, you will experience this even if you never have before – can be debilitating. But once you push through it the first few times, it will become easier.


  • Flexibility. You could have the most rock-solid business plan in history thought out, printed in brilliant colors and even laminated. But it’s going to change. Your products will evolve, the environment will shift, the market will demand changes and your employees will present challenges you were not anticipating. You’ll either adapt or fail.


  • Vision. This means seeing things that aren’t there… yet. Your ability to foresee what isn’t currently in place will be crucial for your chances of success. You won’t always be right – and you’ll never be EXACTLY right – but if you can accurately anticipate market needs most of the time and figure out how to fulfill them before others do, you’re going to win.


So, don’t worry about personality characteristics such as whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert. And don’t be concerned about how high your IQ is. Instead, score yourself on those five traits listed above. If you can honestly give yourself high marks for them, you’re probably going to be a successful entrepreneur.


Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.