Qualities of Great and Not-So-Great Entrepreneurs

by Granville Triumph

Kauffman’s Business Dynamics Statistics Briefing, based on U.S. Census data from 2012, found that “new firms and young businesses account for about 70 percent of gross job creation and disproportionately contribute to net job creation.”

Translation: Entrepreneurship is critically important to our economy and our society as a whole. This is why we need to have a better understanding of why entrepreneurs succeed and fail.

A study by the Founder Institute, which claims to be 85 percent accurate in predicting entrepreneurial success, revealed the top qualities found in people with good “Entrepreneurial DNA.” Surprisingly, intelligence, ingenuity and industriousness had little to no impact on success. Here are the qualities that top the list and how they apply to the technology industry.

Professional experience. The kids who launch billion-dollar companies from dorm rooms get all the attention, but adults 28 and older who have real-world experience and a proven ability to complete projects and solve problems are more likely to find success.

The Technology Take: You can’t just be a technological genius. You need a track record of applying that expertise in a structured business environment.

Openness. The most successful entrepreneurs balance optimism, curiosity and sensibility as they seek to develop unique solutions to our problems.

The Technology Take: What problems can technology solve? What existing solutions can technology improve? Successful entrepreneurs find and develop answers to those questions.

Fluid intelligence. While IQ has been removed from the testing equation because it has such little impact on entrepreneurial success, the ability to think logically, predict change and adapt accordingly are very important.

The Technology Take: Technology is constantly changing and evolving. Successful entrepreneurs can envision what advances are on the horizon and how those advances can be leveraged by businesses and individuals.

Moderate agreeableness. Ruthless, cutthroat billionaires make headlines. However, considerate people who can listen and cooperate, but also be direct and harsh when the situation requires, have a better chance to succeed.

The Technology Take: Nobody knows everything about everything when it comes to technology. The most effective entrepreneurs gladly accept input from those who can help to enhance a technological product or service.

Of course, there are characteristics that make up “Bad Founder DNA.” These people love to make excuses. They’re often emotionally unstable, narcissistic and deceitful. They also exhibit predatory aggressiveness. In other words, they seek out conflict to prove how tough they are.

The Technology Take: Well, there isn’t one. Nobody wants to work for or with someone like this, regardless of the industry. Egos must be checked at the door.

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