(Editor’s note: Patrick Driessen is the CEO of Seed Accelerator, an Asian-Pacific technology startup & business accelerator. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)
Having started, run and lead various companies since I was 15 years old, I’ve learned a few things about being an entrepreneur – often the hard way. I’ve had successes, failures and massive failures, but each taught me something valuable.
While a lot has been written previously about the key qualities of successful entrepreneurs, I’ve always thought there were a few items that were missing. Sure, things like passion, creativity, self-confidence and coordination skills are helpful, but those just scratch the surface. If you’re an emerging entrepreneur looking to succeed faster, just ask yourself the following questions…
Are you persistent? – There is no “instant gratification” when you’re running your own business. There’s no monthly pay check and you may work very hard for little reward.
If you don’t fully believe in yourself and your business, you’ll find the temptation to quit can be overwhelming. When you make mistakes, it’s important to get past the ego blow and learn the lesson – then use the experience to move forward.
Are you financially responsible? – When you’re your own boss, you’re a CEO, accountant and finance manager wrapped in one. When you start making profits, you’ll need to know how to manage it wisely. Successful entrepreneurs know how to actively manage their P&L balance sheet; especially their cash position.
Do you have the required health and physical condition? – Being the founder of a startup means that you’ll have to put most – if not all – of your time and energy into your new venture. Only founders whose health is able to take the physical punishment of the long hours will make it to the finish. Your best bet? Become your own health coach and build up a regular exercise schedule, practice meditation and make sure to develop an ongoing health & well-being program for yourself.
Can you become the king or queen of sleep? – This sort of goes hand-in-hand with your physical condition. Adequate sleep is often the first thing sacrificed in startups – but that can ultimately have a negative impact. Find a way to sleep a consistent number of hours – and try to compensate with power naps to revive yourself.
Also, as odd as it sounds: Practice daydreaming. Letting your mind wander, especially in the early morning, can help you solve tough problems that may seem impossible when you focus too hard later in the day.
Do you have enough supportive friends & family? – Being an entrepreneur often means having to deal with tough personal, financial and emotional challenges. People around you may doubt your plans, vision and growth strategy.
It can be depressing, which is why it’s important to have a support system – to console you or kick your ass when necessary.
Are you self-motivated? – Without self-motivation, you’re doomed as an entrepreneur, since there’s no one to egg you on or watch over your shoulder. If you’re not, the way to mitigate this risk is pretty simple: Get a business partner.
What’s your personal mission statement in life? – The second of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” advises, “Begin with the end in mind”. He recommends formulating a “personal vision statement” to document your perception of your vision in life. It’s good advice. By knowing your own mission and having a view of the big picture, you can help your company grow.
Are you hungry for success? – If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to think and act as a leader. Business isn’t a hobby you can take lightly. Try that approach and you’ll never achieve true success. Above all else – don’t allow personal affairs interfere with your business.