Despite it being 2021, there are still many more male entrepreneurs than female. It is true that we are founding more companies than previous generations but we still have a big gap to close. And we have many good reasons to according to Forbes female-led companies are more capital-efficient, achieve higher ROI and deliver higher revenue.
But if you’ve ever considered launching a start-up or new business, you’ve no doubt been told that you need to have certain personality traits that are intrinsically part of you. Many of them are very masculine: ambitious, extroverted, charismatic, fearless, and resilient. Traits to successfully launch a start-up as an entrepreneur are NOT masculine. And they are not inherent; they can be learned or gained. So, here are 5 non-inherent traits all entrepreneurs need when in start-up mode By Abbey Teunis, founder and director at Embark Insight.
Trait 1: Lean into vulnerability
Fearlessness is not the be all and end all. Yes, you need to step up and be brave to put your idea out there. However, many start-ups have a healthy relationship with both fear and risk and take an incredibly considered approach to their business. They evaluate the risks and put in place measures to counter these. They are not footloose, but they are not afraid to put themselves out there, even if it goes against all of their natural instincts. They are aware that the success of their business relies on people – investors, customers, partners, suppliers, distribution networks, mentors… Much of their time is spent building their network and nurturing those connections.
Trait2: Admit weaknesses
The strongest leaders are able to see their weaknesses and proactively seek support to fill those gaps. Of course, there are successful founders who do not, but the founders who are able to show their vulnerabilities and weaknesses gain more loyal employees and followers who are willing to stick by them through the good and bad times. They lean on their staff to be the experts that they are not and do not micromanage them – everyone in the organisation has an important role and they are treated as such. And then they look after their staff: they know they are their best asset.
Trait 3: Willingly wear many hats
Sometimes, they need to be the visionary and as the start-up grows, being a visionary can be an important and useful trait as this will help them transition the company from an idea into a viable business by having a strategy that investors will buy into. But at any stage on the start-up journey, they will need to gladly wear many other hats too: operations, sales, pitch extraordinaire, networker, HR, hands-on-deck doer… In fact, when they reach the stage of scaling and big fundraising rounds, the strongest leaders choose to bring in new CEOs, NEDs or other support structures to provide that strategy.
Trait 4: Focused
Start-ups face many setbacks, from running out of funds, the economy collapsing suddenly, competition, fundraising rounds not going well, struggling to get big-ticket investors, tech not working, and the list goes on. For founders with a single-minded focus on the end goal (success) and who feel responsible to people (staff, investors, etc) facing this adversity naturally makes them resilient. This focus can make the hard times manageable because they see the roadmap ahead.
Trait 5: Open-minded
Very few start-ups end up being successful off the back of the original idea. Successful start-ups are able to identify when they need to change or adapt. They are not emotional about the idea and will pivot if they need to (they are attached to success more than the idea itself.) They are good at spotting opportunities, are open-minded, and are open to change. To do this, they are constantly learning, reading, educating themselves, observing the market, reading trends, listening to their customers, and open to taking advice.
There is no secret sauce to success but is success pre-determined by your gender or your personality traits? It is absolutely not.