Prizes and pitfalls: do you have what it takes to succeed in business?

For many, the entrepreneurial driver

shows itself from an early age – for

example in school children who buy and

sell sweets at a profit or teenagers who

seek money-making opportunities in

car-washing or selling unwanted toys.

Such people often go straight into

business from leaving education, or try

out a few jobs before going it alone in

one way or another.

For others, the impetus is quite different.

A jaded outlook on employment is quite

common: redundancy, mid-life crisis, a

feeling of being trapped or becoming

weary of office politics or the daily

commute. These tend to be more

negative drivers. If you’re experiencing

these kinds of emotions as your reasons

for entering into self-employment it’s

important to turn them into positive

levers for a different lifestyle: convert

them into reasons to succeed, not

reasons to run away.

Whatever your motives for entering into

business, you will need certain

characteristics. These will vary in

relative importance depending on

whether you are working alone in a

freelancing capacity, or buying a

franchise with a partner, or setting up a

business which employs people – but

they will be imperative nonetheless.

A willingness to take risks is, of course,

the first characteristic which most

people identify. Buying a franchise – the

reason you’re visiting this site – can

reduce the risks involved. Yet you still

need to have the mindset and the

determination to push yourself -

sometimes beyond your comfort zone.

Is this you? Some typical personal characteristics of a

successful entrepreneur:


This is perhaps the most important factor of all. Without vision

– a picture of where you are going and what you want to do –

you will be unlikely to achieve anything worthwhile.

Self belief

If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else is going to.

Successful entrepreneurs need a wholehearted and genuine

belief in the product or service they provide and the ability to

convince others.


A little nervous energy is helpful, but the ability to cope

appropriately with stress is essential. It is rare for a business

to run smoothly from day one and if you’re prone to excessive

panic and sleepless nights, it will soon wear you down and

those around you.


You cannot give up easily if you are ultimately going to

succeed. Self-motivation is essential – as is the ability to

renew it time and time again.


You may have a new or niche product, or serve a particular

geography, but if you’re successful you won’t be alone for

long. You need to have the will to fight when contenders take

you on.

Curious and adaptable

The business world moves fast – and to remain successful

you need to investigate emerging technologies, markets,

ideas … anything which does or could affect your business

operations or the way in which your customers view your

offering relative to that of your competitors. Burying your head

in the sand leaves you, literally, sightless.


A sense of timing is imperative in two ways: day-to-day time

management in order to achieve tasks but leave time for

thinking and planning; and urgency in when it comes to

making important decisions.

Willing to make sacrifices

Uncapped earnings and the ability to manage one’s own time

are often the most common reasons for going into business

rather than being employed – but it’s unlikely to land in your

lap. You may have to live frugally and put phenomenal hours

into your business, particularly in the early years.

Copyright FranchiseExpo 2006

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