Leadership Qualities for a Successful Entrepreneur

There is always this argument that there are people who are born with skills that propel them to success. However, a group feels that professionals and teams grow their skills through learning and training.

Each part of the argument has its own props to support their side of the story. Let us take a look at the argument from both sides of the coin.

Successful entrepreneurs are born

There is a feeling that successful entrepreneurs are born with innate qualities that propel their ideas to great success. Formal education plays a little part in their success. In fact, in many cases, this group does not need the education to get started and be successful.

Let us look at some notable entrepreneurs supporting this school of thought.

business successRichard Branson

The philanthropist billionaire Richard Branson founded and runs more than 400 companies across the world most of which are under his Virgin brand.

Richard was performing poorly at school and had been diagnosed with dyslexia. These two made him leave school by the age of 16.

His entrepreneurial spirit grew from this point onwards. He started a record business as well as Student’ Magazine. He used the magazine to interview some of the most prominent people at the time. From this business, he grew the Virgin’ brand to owning over 400 investments. He is now a renowned billionaire.

Alan Sugar

Alan Sugar is a business magnate who also doubles as a political adviser and a media personality. His businesses ushered him to the billionaires club in 2015. He has been the chairman of Tottenham Hotspurs and ran Amstrad, an electronics company.

Just like Richard Branson, he did not go to college for the tertiary education. He left secondary school and started selling car antennas. The rest is history

Both of these incredibly successful gentlemen did not have education beyond the elementary level, came from poor backgrounds and went ahead to become billionaires in their respective trades.

They may have been born entrepreneurs in their own right. But the assertion that entrepreneurs are born and do not need to grow their skills. There is a proposition that there are certain entrepreneurial skills that lead one to success such as the ability to spot opportunities better than others, think differently, or have the guts to take massive risk are not acquired in life but are part of the whole being at the time of birth. However, this is not convincing enough.

Why is this proposition defective?

There is the whole arena of gene research on entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Alan Sugar with the aim of establishing a hereditary link to such entrepreneurial success. So far, no information has come out with respect to the influence of genes or certain mutations on success.

While there are few very brilliant entrepreneurs who had little formal education in line with their career success, there are a lot more that have made it through their profession. In fact, the world of entrepreneurship is filled with several kinds of personality traits and individuals. There are extroverts and introverts; there are natural high-risk takers and those who are very cautious in their decisions. There are those who have gone through years of training in their line of business and those who have little training in their line of business.

There is no single type of successful entrepreneur. The key to success in many entrepreneurs is in their ability to align their passions and skills to potential opportunities and develop more skills as they move along. The rapid development of the skills leads to new opportunities and better management of the already existing opportunities.

The entrepreneur gene thinking is very rigid. It supports the mindset that if you are not born with the entrepreneurial talents, you would never become successful in what you do. This is not true; any of us can grow skills on the way and become successful in whatever we do. With this mindset, only a few people can become leaders because they are born with the skills.

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.

Peter F. Drucker

Successful entrepreneurs grow their skills

There are those that believe that entrepreneurship success comes from growing skills that are acquired through entrepreneurial education. According to William Bygrave and Edward Marram at Babson, entrepreneurial education has a lasting value and influence on the success in business. (Lange, Julian E.; Marram, Edward; Jawahar, Ajay Solai; Yong, Wei; and Bygrave, William (2011) “DOES AN ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION HAVE LASTING VALUE? A STUDY OF CAREERS OF 4,000 ALUMNI,” Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research: Vol. 31: Iss. 6, Article 2.)

These two gentlemen studied the career of over 4,000 Babson College alumni that graduated from 1985 to 2009. They sought to know if taking one or two core entrepreneurship elective courses had a positive influence on the student’s intention of becoming an entrepreneur and actual becoming an entrepreneur after the graduation.

Another interesting area of their survey was to find out if writing a business plan had a positive influence on a student’s likelihood of becoming a full-time entrepreneur after the graduation.

Summary of the findings from their study

There was overwhelming evidence that taking two or more of the entrepreneurship courses influences the intention of the students becoming entrepreneurs and actualizing the dream later on after graduation.

business success studentsWriting business plans in school influenced the entrepreneurship intentions of the students becoming entrepreneurs after they left college. It is not given that students actually pursue the business for which they wrote the business plans for college.

The researchers found no evidence that having parents that were entrepreneurs influenced the decisions by students to become full-time entrepreneurs. In all the cases, entrepreneurial education was the major drive to starting a business rather than the parental effect.

Students that had already started their businesses before enrolling at the college had the strongest influence on the students becoming full-time entrepreneurs after they graduated from college.

Other factors influenced the students to become entrepreneurs such as job dissatisfaction, opportunities, and self-efficacy. However, these factors did not have a strong influence as having entrepreneurial education at the college.

From the study, there is concrete evidence that entrepreneurship can be grown through effective training and study. One does not have to have been born with the skills that would be needed to help him or her succeed in business. While a number of traits are developed out of class, the real motivation and push come from studying entrepreneurial courses class.

The entrepreneurial spirit needs to be fed with hands-on skills taught in class. Most of the so-called born entrepreneurs’ have gone back to class and studied in particular areas for which they conduct business in addition to business management courses. They did not depend on their entrepreneurial genius alone to run their businesses. They propelled the genius with skills and development.

virgin logoAccording to Virgin.com, only a third of the leading entrepreneurs did not study or complete school to start their businesses. The two-thirds of them did complete a set of courses from engineering to business, arts, law, finance, and others. Therefore, it would not be fair to base our conclusions on the entrepreneurs that did not complete school and forget about the overwhelming majority that completed school.

Many of the entrepreneurial graduates ended up running institutions that were running businesses different from what they had learned in school. However, the core skills that they had learned in class became useful in leading their organizations to success.

Why is this proposition strong?

With this mindset, it is possible for just anyone to start, run, and succeed in business by developing the requisite skills needed in the business field. The skills are developed in the classroom and personal experience out there. Moreover, anyone can become a leader in the society and business. There are no specific inborn personal traits that dictate that certain people have to be leaders and not others.

I believe any success in life is made by going into an area with a blind and furious optimism.

Silvester Stallone

Skills you need to develop to become an entrepreneur

Success in business is a combination of taking advantage of the available opportunities and developing skills to enable you to take advantage of the opportunities. Therefore, there several skills that you need to develop as an entrepreneur to be successful in your venture. Here are some of them:


As an entrepreneur, you need to communicate your vision, products, and plans to the people that support your idea. Lack of proper communication usually leads to misunderstanding and lost opportunities. If you have staff, lack of proper communication may lead to decreased productivity, low morale, and failure to follow instructions. All these have a negative impact on the success of your venture.

You learn communication skills both in class and when interacting with people around you. Communication skills are also perfected by practice.

Personal and business branding

A brand is a promise that you make to the market. Branding involves differentiating yourself from the rest of the service providers with a unique offering. Sometimes entrepreneurs are required to do personal branding, especially where they give the service that requires some level of expertise. Personal branding, in this case, can help establish yourself as an expert in the field.

You can learn to brand from a business coach and by utilizing knowledge in marketing and business development. You can also hire service providers to help in other aspects of personal and business branding such as content development, corporate identity and packaging your products.


Every business requires a skilled assessment of challenges it may face later in its growth and opportunities that may also come up. With knowledge, it is easy to plan ahead for ways to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the challenges.

Strategy goes beyond the right now’ aspect of the business to months and years down the line. Entrepreneurs must see the bigger picture and create long-term goals to keep the business afloat.

Strategic management is taught in school. There are also companies that specialize in strategic management for business. Every entrepreneur needs some strategic management skills in addition to assistance given by business management firms.

Financial management

Before the entrepreneur can delegate the work of financial management to his accountants, he or she needs to have a basic understanding such things as profit margins, financial management, cash flow management, and funding. Basic bookkeeping skills are also important in personal financial management.

Finances are the wheels on which the business moves. It cannot run if there are no funds. It the duty of the entrepreneur to optimize efficiency, rein on costs and cut down on overheads. Financial management skills are developed through a combination of training and taking the personal initiative at managing funds.

People management

There will be people below you who will carry your vision and reach the clients. Those are the biggest assets that you have as a business. The way you manage them plays a big role in the quality of service they give to your clients. Low morale, lack of motivation and opportunities for creativity are some of the things that cause low productivity among the employees.

As the head and the vision carrier for the business, you should motivate and instill the vision into the minds of everyone in the organization. This makes them work together for the common good of the organization.

What are the main qualities of entrepreneurs?

Apart from the skills, entrepreneurs have to acquire qualities that make it easier to conduct businesses. These intrinsic factors endear them to the business publics. Any entrepreneur can gain the qualities by changing the mindset and attitude. Here are some of the qualities.

Positive energy

There are too many obstacles on the way that may bring down a business at any time. Unfortunately, you will meet these obstacles daily as an entrepreneur.

You need more than motivation to fight these obstacles. This is where positive energy comes in. Despite the hardships, determined entrepreneurs push ahead in anticipation for better things ahead. They do not listen to the voices of discouragement and failure in their pursuit of excellence.

Energize others

Entrepreneurs transfer the positive energy to the people around them. This is the secret behind creating successful teams at the workplace. Energetic team members share and pursue the vision both for their own benefit and for the organization.

Make tough calls

There is always the inertia to explore unbeaten paths or make contact with people deemed high up in the social rank. However, history has taught us that the road to success does not always use the beaten path; it sometimes requires one to clear the bushes and make a way.

Entrepreneurs are not afraid of making tough calls, meeting unfamiliar people, and exploring unfamiliar territories.

Power of decision making

decision makingYou will be amazed by the level of indecisiveness that many people experience when making simple purchase decisions, career choices or in relationships. As for the business, every minute counts. A delayed decision may mean a lost opportunity or increased risk to the survival of the business.

Entrepreneurs must develop the ability to think on their feet, look at the options on the table and make a decision as fast as they can. The power of decision making should also be delegated to various levels to different levels of the organizational hierarchy. This ensures that the organization can run even when the entrepreneur is not around to make decisions. It also enables the employees to give good service to their clients by being able to make quick correction where there are anomalies.

Leadership in business and society is not a preserve of certain people who are purported to have been born with the leadership traits. Anyone can be conditioned to become a leader in his or her right. This simply goes to show great people can be made and not necessarily born.

Conditioning involves personal development, education, and change of attitude. Personal development involves the acquisition of personal traits that help you use your skills to deliver the services for which you are responsible.

Entrepreneurs that seek to become leaders in business should consider taking up a course or two on core aspects of their businesses. The skills learned in class assists in aligning the ideas to the needs of the market. It is not enough to hire skilled work in the organization; the entrepreneur must have the basic skills that are required in the organization.

Learning institutions should craft their curriculum in a way to encourage the development of leadership traits and skills among their students. The courses must inculcate the push for self-independence and creativity.

A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor

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