Just the other day I was on Facebook and I noticed someone talking about a really successful person that went to my high school. So naturally, I clicked on their profile to see what he was up to.
The person is a genius, and I doubt they ever got less than an A in a class. After high school they attended Stanford and landed some successful positions at companies like Microsoft and Google.
If you looked at this person’s resume you’d be impressed, I’m sure. They’re smart, ambitious, and hard working. You would think the person is probably the most successful person from their high school class, right?
Well, they aren’t. The most successful person in that high school class was my cousin. How can this be? It isn’t due to grades because my cousin rarely got As… and he didn’t do well on his SATs. He also didn’t graduate from a 4-year university.
So why is my cousin the most successful person of his high school class? He hustled harder. Instead of going to college, he spent the first few years working in the corporate world and within 3 years he was able to get his salary up to $120,000 a year by helping corporations leverage search engines.
After that he started his own marketing agency that is doing very well and now he gets to work with cool companies like SalesForce, CafePress, Mint.com, and Yahoo.
So what’s the moral of the story? You don’t have to be that smart to be a successful entrepreneur, you just have to be smart enough.
Here are some great qualities my cousin possesses and you need if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur:
Quality #1: The drive to make money
Whether it was from selling bootleg CDs in high school to selling car parts to his friends, he always figured out a way to make a quick buck. After he had a taste of making a bit of money, he wanted more. Even after he reached 6 figures in income, he still wanted more.
If you want to make money, your brain will continue to think of ways for you to make it. Most of your ideas will suck, but every once in a while you’ll come up with one that will work.
Quality #2: The ability to schmooze
One of the great qualities that my cousin has is that he is a good schmoozer. He gets along with almost everyone, and he is funny so people typically enjoy his company.
The best part about his schmoozing ability is that he is quickly able to identify if the person he is talking to is well off. This is a great quality to have. The main reason being: if they are, they’ll be able to push money towards your business.
If you want to make money you have to schmooze with others. At first it may seem hard and you’ll be nervous, but over time you’ll get good at it. Instead of worrying about what you should or shouldn’t say or what value you can bring to the conversation, just go out there and start networking. You’ll get the hang of it and find it’s actually really easy… you just can’t over think it.
Quality #3: Persistence
My cousin didn’t succeed during his first try. His first job only paid him $30,000 a year. But over time he learned how to climb the corporate ladder, and then use that money to start his own company.
The one thing my cousin knew and you need to understand as well is that you aren’t going to get rich over night. No matter how hard you try to cut corners: anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Even if you look at other people who are doing well financially, it may seem like they hit it big overnight, but they probably put in years before things worked out.
Don’t expect to become rich overnight, if you don’t keep at it for years it won’t happen.
Quality #4: Focus, focus, and focus
Although my cousin wasn’t the smartest kid in his high school class, he was smart enough to know that you need to focus. The way he made money was by helping companies rank higher on search engines. More specifically, he specialized in link building, which is one component of search engine optimization.
These days he does more than link building, but he didn’t expand his business until his revenue flat lined from link building.
If you want to make money, you don’t have to be a jack of all trades, you just have to be really good at one thing. Specialize and become an expert at whatever it is that you want to do. Once your business starts flat lining, you should then think about expanding. However, until then you should have laser focus.
Quality #5: Be independent
Although my cousin is roughly a year older than me, he got into the world of search engine optimization a few years after me. When he first got in the field he didn’t ask me a ton of questions and rarely asked me for help, instead he figured things out on his own.
Don’t expect other entrepreneurs to hold your hand every step of the way. If you can’t figure out the answers to basic questions like the ones below, you aren’t meant to be an entrepreneur.
- How do I setup a corporation?
- How do I get started?
- Once I have an idea, what should I do next?
Learn to be independent, as the hardest part about being an entrepreneur isn’t starting out, it’s actually getting to revenue and more importantly getting to profitability.
Quality #6: You can’t play before you work
One of the laziest people I knew growing up was my cousin. He didn’t like to work and all he wanted to do was have fun. Sooner or later he realized that he had to work hard if he wanted to sustain his lifestyle.
Being an entrepreneur is very time consuming… I rarely find myself working less than 10 hours a day. I don’t take holidays and I work 7 days a week.
If you want to be successful you need to learn to put in long hours because work doesn’t stop when you are sick or when there are holidays. As a business owner, your customers will expect you to work 24/7. Hopefully you are working on something you are passionate about as it is hard to work that many hours when you hate what you are doing.
Quality #7: Learn how to manage
If you want to grow your business, you need to learn how to manage employees. There’s only so much money you can make running a solo operation. For example, my cousin has a dozen or so people that he manages on a regular basis.
Once you start hiring people you can’t expect them to operate independently from the get go. You need to learn how to create processes so that people can be plugged quickly into your organization and get up and running without making too many mistakes.
Creating a process isn’t easy. And when you are small you can’t expect your employees to figure out everything for you because you aren’t paying them 6 figures a year. Not only do you need to manage them, but you have to get in there and do their job for a while so you can understand what road blocks they’re running into and how to solve them.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to be that smart… you just have to be smart enough. Just look at my cousin, or even me. We weren’t the smartest people in our high school, but we both had the determination to succeed.
Stop worrying about getting an Ivy League education, instead go out there and solve a problems that people are experiencing today. If you can do so, you’ll make more than enough money by creating a business around it.
What other qualities do you think make a good entrepreneur?
PS: Although the picture of my cousin may seem goofy, he is all business.