In this post we’ll be examining the character traits that might dictate whether you’re ready – or not – to push your business to the next level. ‘Personality?’ some of you may question. ‘Surely an overview of the business skills required in the boardroom would be a better place to start?’ Absolutely not. The single most important factor determining the progress of your business is who you are and the habits you’re likely to bring into play. Business bits and pieces can be learnt later. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to escape the worst by hiring someone to manage this side of the job for you. But there’s simply no way of getting around your mental make up. It outweighs even family ties, skills and experience as the number one indicator of success. What’s more, steering your venture so that it’s in sync with your temperament can also lead to a greater sense of personal enrichment. So read on…
First, let’s take a look at your comfort zone. Are you quite content where you are or chomping at the bit to try something new? A lot will depend on your emotional resilience, but the good news here is that some of it can be taught – or at least honed through practice. We’re particularly inspired by the story Richard Branson’s mother, Eve, tells of how she helped her son overcome “disabling” shyness when he was just a seven-year-old-boy. Documentary filmmaker Mary C Mazzio met her in 2004 and recounts to Time magazine how he “refused to talk to adults and would cling to the back of Eve’s skirt”. She continues: “On the way home from a shopping trip to a nearby village, Eve stopped the car about three miles from home and let Richard out. ‘You will now walk home. You will have to talk to people to find your way home,’ she told him. By the time Richard arrived some 10 hours later, Eve was apoplectic. (She had not accounted for the time he might stop to look at bugs and inspect rocks.) But it worked. Richard started to become more comfortable interacting with adults.”
Branson himself is candid about how important mindset is to succeeding as an entrepreneur. One of his most oft-quoted sayings is: “Entrepreneurial business favours the open mind. It favours people whose optimism drives them to prepare for many possible futures, pretty much purely for the joy of doing so.” Before embarking on a business growth strategy, ask yourself: ‘Have I got the same tolerance for risk and appetite for reward that Branson alludes to here? Have I got the can-do attitude that will help me face challenges head on rather than regretting stepping out of my comfort zone?
Secondly, assess your work ethic. Often, what distinguishes success stories from failures isn’t luck or innate talent, but rather the willingness to put in some serious graft to get results. Look at the Amazon model, for example. In the early days staff were clocking 12-hour days seven days a week to get books dispatched on time, sometimes staying up until 2 to 3am to complete their shipping schedule. Even today, CEO Jeff Bezos is rumoured to take an inordinately active interest in the day-to-day running of the company, from personally emailing teams about customer service issues to listening to their ideas on how they’ll solve them. You can read more examples of conscientious business management here.
Rooted in Personality
Finally, for anyone still doubting the power of personality to drive growth, take a leaf out of British-Jamaican culinary king Levi Roots’ book. He’s the first to admit his phenomenal success is mainly down to his zany style and irrepressible charm. He won over the notoriously difficult-to-please panel in Dragons’ Den with a catchy song about his sauce, and still relies on character quirks to attract new customers. He told Sage that it’s his USP: “We are AB (Associated British) Food’s favourite brand because we’ve got personality — how can Tate & Lyle compete against a Rasta man from Brixton with three-foot-long dreadlocks? It’s all an extension of Levi Roots — myself as a person and what I’m capable of. That’s what people are buying — so it’s a little different from a Heinz sauce!”
According to about.com, there are nine key personality types associated with business success. The website urges wannabe entrepreneurs to study them closely and identify which best describes their own traits and approach to life. “Understanding each will help you enjoy your business more and provide your company with what it needs to grow,” the article continues. You can discover for yourself here.
Still uncertain exactly what bracket you fit into? Leave it to the algorithm by having a bash at this online ‘business personality test’.