Today marks the beginning of Small Business Month, a national celebration of entrepreneurs and small business owners across America. While these businesses may be small in size, their potential is anything but: giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google initially started as one- or two-person shops. Even DreamHost was started in a dorm room!
While many people aspire to run their own businesses, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur — especially in the digital age. It takes a specific type of personality to handle the nuts and bolts that make up an online business. To help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to start your own web-based biz, we’ve compiled this list of vital entrepreneur characteristics.
Can you handle the hustle?
1. They’re Highly Motivated
Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss. Not having a supervisor may sound like a huge perk, but when nobody is around to tell you what to do, it’s easy to sink into stagnation. And that’s not going to work — especially on the web. Successful business owners are people who are good at self-motivating. They know that no boss will tell them to hurry up and finish that project — they’ve just got to make it happen all by themselves.
Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, says that while it’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not building a business, a real entrepreneur will simply go for it anyway: “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.”
His tough-love approach is typical of the entrepreneurial mindset. “I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years,” he says. “I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business.”
Plank initially began Under Armour out of his grandmother’s basement. Today, his company employs 11,000 people and earns $4 billion in yearly revenue — a small business no more! — but it would never have gotten off the ground if he hadn’t taken his role as his own boss seriously and amped up his self-motivation.
2. They Embrace Technology
Good entrepreneurs know that the tools of the trade are always changing, so they never get too comfortable. They know they can best serve their customers by keeping up to date with the latest solutions technology offers.
Today successful entrepreneurs know that every business, no matter the size, needs to have an online presence. Potential customers spend more than 10 hours a day looking at screens, so a website is the best way to get eyes on your service or product. And having a website doesn’t mean having just any website; ideally, you’ll have one that loads quickly, looks equally great on desktop and mobile, and stays online with little downtime.
DreamHost knows what small business owners need — after all, more than 90 percent of our customers are in business for themselves. For entrepreneurs who’d rather be focusing on customers than worrying about websites, our DreamPress service removes the guesswork, keeping customers’ WordPress sites automatically configured so they can focus on growing their business.
3. They’re Focused on the Customer
You can’t run a successful website or business if nobody is interested in buying your product or service. That’s why good entrepreneurs know that customer retention should be the crux of their operation.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, initially set up his company in his garage. He says there’s never been a moment, from those one-man days until now, when he took his customers for granted. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better,” he said.
Perhaps that’s why Amazon has such a massive customer base today. Rather than treating buyers like a necessary evil that keeps him in business, Bezos saw them as invitees that must continuously be courted and made to feel appreciated.
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4. They Fail and Try Again
Top entrepreneurs know that getting it wrong sometimes is simply part of the game. They’re not held back by their setbacks, but see the entrepreneurial process as a learning experience.
Drew Houston, the CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, has declared, “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” In fact, sometimes your previous failures pave the way for your future successes. Before striking gold with Dropbox, Houston worked on a number of other startups, most of which you haven’t heard of because they never went anywhere. But those early attempts taught Houston how to run a successful company later on.
5. They Differentiate Their Products
The best entrepreneurs take a timeless or popular idea and find a way to make it fresh. For example, did you know there are over 117 companies that make mobile phones? But when consumers need a new phone, it’s rare they will look at every mobile device each of these 117 companies makes.
Instead, most consumers will pick from the top three companies that have differentiated their products most effectively: Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. The success of these three mobile device companies is evidenced by each holding the top three highest portions of the industry’s market share, respectively.
Differentiation is something Sara Blakely, the founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, knows a lot about.
While Spanx performs the same function as a corset or a girdle — items of clothing people have worn for centuries — Blakely put a new, sexy spin on the product. With Spanx, Blakely made shapewear comfortable, easy to put on, and impossible to detect under even the slimmest of clothing. To top it off, she differentiated her product by branding it with a fun and memorable name.
Blakely’s ability to take an old-fashioned item of clothing and successfully differentiate it from all other shapewear helped propel her from a failing salesperson to a billionaire in just a manner of years. Blakely encourages would-be entrepreneurs to ask themselves the following questions as they start their businesses: “Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”
You Can Do It!
Just as with any other job, becoming self-employed requires its own set of entrepreneurial skills. Owning your own business calls for grit, determination, flexibility, and the willingness to make a business plan and brew the coffee. Starting a company is never easy, but if you see a bit of yourself in this list, you might just be ready to take the plunge.
Do You Have What It Takes?
You’re gonna need a website for that shiny new business. Let our DreamPress experts help you create a WordPress website today.