Successful Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship is a fascinating world. You either love it or hate it once you’re in it. You’re either hooked or not interested. You realize you can go farther and work harder than you thought you could.
The traits of other successful entrepreneurs have been some of the most surprising things I’ve learned. You may have read a lot of articles about “the traits of a successful entrepreneur,” but you might have missed some of the most interesting and unusual ones.
Read our blog: Entrepreneurial Burnout 5 Survival Tips
I’ve found some surprising things that most successful entrepreneurs have in common.
You might think that rock-star entrepreneurs have an advantage over the rest of us. They might have had a wise mentor, a strong group of advisors, or something else that helped them.
In fact, many of the most successful business owners learned on their own. Like, look at Bill Gates. Slate has called him an “autodidact,” which means that he taught himself everything he needed to know.
Another one is Elon Musk. Musk is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about how rockets work. What kind of nerdy skill is that? Musk’s science degrees from Wharton and UPenn didn’t give him all that knowledge. How else would he have known? Business Insider says, “He learned his textbooks by heart.”
2. They are frugal.
We’ve all heard how famous businesspeople went from having nothing to having a lot of money. We’ve also read about their beautiful yachts and seen pictures of their expensive cars.
The truth is that most entrepreneurs don’t spend a lot of money. Leave the boss cars alone. Mark Zuckerberg was known to drive around in an Acura, which is a car that most college graduates can buy. Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $46.7 billion, and his 1996 Honda Accord is worth about $4,000. Travis Kalanick might not even have a car. He might be doing Uber-style carpooling.
Mark Cuban has this advice for entrepreneurs who want to live cheaply:
It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear.
If Cuban sounds like a preacher of austerity, all you have to do is look at his $3 billion net worth to see that he is not. Cuban does know, though, that
The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.
3. They’ve done menial labor.
Jan Koum was sweeping floors and giving the money he made to his sick mother. He also got food aid from the government. His rise to fame started in a small Ukrainian village, in a house without electricity or other modern conveniences. Now, Koum, who helped start Whatsapp, has a fortune of $7.9 billion.
Cuban, on the other hand, started out as a bartender who washed dishes for a small wage. Buffett used to sell newspapers. Michael Bloomberg used to work in a parking lot. Oprah Winfrey used to work at a small grocery store as a cashier. Jeff Bezos worked on a ranch.
Can’t quit your day job yet? Don’t worry. You are with good people.
4. They Repay
Entrepreneurs learn something very important at some point, whether they have a lot of money or not. It has nothing to do with money.
It’s about doing important things and It’s about putting money into something bigger than yourself. It’s about giving money to important causes.
- Bill Gates could have kept building his software empire, but he chose to start a charity instead.
- GiftCards.com’s founder, entrepreneur Jason Wolfe, goes on mission trips to Haiti and gives Christmas gifts to needy children.
- Mark Zuckerberg wants to give away 99 percent of his Facebook shares.
Not everything has to do with taxes. It’s about living a good life and making others’ lives better.
5. They want to be happy.
“Follow your passion” and “Do what makes you happy” are common pieces of business advice given to people today. But the truth is that you’re going to have to do some things that don’t make you feel good or teach you anything.
On the other hand, you should pick a job that makes you happy. What’s the point if you don’t?
Philippe Courtot, a Business Insider Most Powerful Person and a serial entrepreneur, knows how important this point is:
If I had one piece of advice to give my younger self, it would be to stop doing what makes you unhappy and focus on what makes you truly happy.
You’ll look back on your life at some point. If you’ve spent all your time doing work that hurts your head and you don’t like it, you’re going to be sorry.
Even if the money doesn’t come, you can do something you really enjoy, which is something money can’t buy.
The typical entrepreneur is an outgoing Type A who makes deals, sells a lot, talks quickly, gets people excited, and gives high-fives. Or not.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are perfect examples of what it means to be an introvert. The Wall Street Journal puts Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, and Warren Buffett on this list of powerful entrepreneurs who are also shy.
Sounds like a list of business leaders. And they’re introverts?
How does that work, exactly? Susan Cain, the most famous person in the field of introvert science, says that their ability to be successful entrepreneurs comes from their uncanny ability to focus. They step out of the spotlight on purpose and into the place where they can be most productive, most thoughtful, and make the most progress.
As Gary Vaynerchuk wrote:
We are in the glory days of the introverted entrepreneur. Because of technology, there are so many ways to build a company now, talk to people and make connections in the business world, all without leaving your desk.
So, yes, introverts are great entrepreneurs.
You might not think of yourself as a “typical” business owner, and that’s fine.
In real life, there is no such thing as a “typical” business owner. There are only business owners. They might look strange, different, interesting, boring, or even shocking.
All of them have an entrepreneurial drive and a passion they can’t get rid of. To put it simply, we will build things, go places, and make things happen.