“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”, Peter Drucker “Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start.”, Simon Sinek. Mike Lander tells us more

“My colleagues and I did a study, funded by the Kauffman Foundation, that surveyed 500 successful high growth founders. Against all stereotypes, we found that the typical successful founder was 40 years old, with at least 6-10 years of industry experience. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are more than 50 as under 25.” Krisztina “Z” Holly and the Kauffman Foundation

The first two quotes inspired me and the third re-assured me. In a world where everyone wants to be the next e-entrepreneur and build a new Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or Uber, the reality in my experience is that most successful entrepreneurs build new businesses because of three primary reasons:

  • The need for self-determination
  • A clear vision
  • The potential for long term financial rewards
The question then is:

If age isn’t a blocker, and experience is an advantage, what are the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?

I am fortunate enough to have been a member of The Supper Club for the past 10 years where I have met hundreds of successful entrepreneurs at various dinners and events. On reflection, there are some common themes that stand out for me about successful entrepreneurs:

Personal traits/characteristics:

  • Self-confident yet open to constructive, informed challenge
  • A thirst for learning
  • Self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Empathetic
  • Strong social skills
  • Determined/tenacious
  • Broad business skills and experiences
  • Strategic vision
  • Leadership
  • Risk management
  • Financial management
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Operational understanding
Why do their businesses succeed where others often fail?

The problem is, it’s a combination of all the items below, not a pick ’n’ mix:

  • They start out with a clear focus (product/service, geography, customer segments, etc)
  • They have a vision and a plan to deliver it, albeit that plan will adapt as the business grows
  • The founder starts by being the primary sales person
  • They are focused on the numbers (financial and non-financial) and the implications
  • They are great at building followers (staff, suppliers and customers)
  • They understand the critical importance of working-on-the-business at the same time as working-in-the-business
  • They get the link between operational excellence, client satisfaction and on-going loyalty
In summary:

You’re never too old to start your own business and you don’t need to be an internet guru, however, you do need to have the personality traits, business experience and dedication to turn your vision into tangible results that not only pays the bills but allows you to re-invest for growth.

Mike Lander Director and co-founder of www.ensoul.co.uk , business adviser and writer

See also this interview with EJ Packe, the Managing Director of The Supper Club, and a judge at this year’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.