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The Talents and Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

We can thank entrepreneurs for much of the success of the global economy over the past half century. And if we’re going to emerge from the worldwide economic slump, entrepreneurs will lead the way.

These driven, creative individuals know plenty about battling adversity. They’ve overcome infrastructure and regulatory hurdles to start their businesses. Often, they’ve fulfilled an unsatisfied demand and, in many cases, actually built demand by introducing new products to the market.

But despite all that entrepreneurs have contributed to the global economy and to well-being and human development worldwide, most leaders and policymakers don’t have a clue about what makes them successful or how to help them thrive. In the U.S., for example, nearly half of all jobs are in the small-business sector, and small businesses accounted for 65% of the net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009. Yet fewer than half of new American businesses survive their first five years.

To drive startups, the U.S. and other countries have created an infrastructure of incubators and coaching programs to support entrepreneurs and spur business growth. Though these programs are useful and necessary, they often overlook a key element in a new enterprise’s success: the innate talents that successful entrepreneurs bring to the task of building a business.

The process of entrepreneurship

Because entrepreneurship is vital to the global economy, Gallup scientifically studied entrepreneurs and the role of human motivations, perceptions, and behaviors in explaining entrepreneurial decision making. We started by studying how successful entrepreneurs behave and the activities they engage in to drive new venture creation or business growth. Focusing on the task or the process of entrepreneurship helps identify the innate talents that are most relevant to success.

Most current models of the entrepreneurial process propose a standard sequence of events, starting with opportunity recognition, resource acquisition, venture creation, and finally business expansion and growth. This sequence of events covers two developmental phases in the life cycle of a venture.

The first phase is the early or new business stage (entrepreneurial startup or firm less than three years old), which is characterized by innovation and creativity, a high sense of mission, short-term orientation, minimal hierarchy, and an autocratic management style. Entrepreneurs must be able to perform multiple roles, live with ambiguity, and develop an idea very quickly.

“I look out and I see opportunity,” says Shawn Macken, president and cofounder of Edge Technologies, LLC, which creates and sells a health and wellness dashboard system. “My first client was someone I knew through networking. He came to me and said, ‘Do you think you can do something for me?’ Sure. That’s my answer! I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it.”

The second or formalized/structured phase (entrepreneurial stability, firm three or more years old) is characterized by an emphasis on service, a slower rate of innovation, decentralized decision making, institutionalized procedures, functional specialization, and a team approach to problem solving. In this phase, the entrepreneur’s focus shifts from high creativity, ideation, and basic planning to managing a more mature company…
Read more: Business Insider


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