There’s an age-old insight that’s often cited when referencing entrepreneurship: “90 percent of startups fail.” In fact, that may not be the case. According to new research by Cambridge Associates — assessing more than 27,000 venture-backed startups — the average failure rate was 60 percent.1
It could be that new technologies and the ability to reach a target niche of online customers have allowed businesses more options and opportunities for success. However, it still takes a certain spark to become a successful business owner.
We often recommend that clients work longer before considering retirement, if possible. This not only helps accrue a larger nest egg but also helps avoid boredom that could set in with a longer retirement. For this reason, many people consider working in an entirely different area than their regular career — including starting their own business.
According to Eva Chan and Jane Lee, who founded Launch Pop and are focused on helping jumpstart other entrepreneurs, there are a few basic categories of new business owners, each offering certain personality traits beneficial to startup success. Examples include:2
- The Detail Master: The consummate detail-oriented person — good at addressing each small detail but at risk of getting bogged down and moving too slowly.
- The Hulk: A real go-getter — he or she may have the passion and drive to get a business up and running but could find managing people and details a bit challenging.
- The Pivot Master: Adept at recognizing and acting on timely opportunities but may not spend enough time planning and testing the business idea.
Ultimately, the people who seem to have the greatest long-term entrepreneurial success tend to have a mix of these characteristics.
In addition to the right combination of personality traits, successful entrepreneurs wear many hats and use many skillsets to get a business off the ground. The most important skills include:3
Sales: The ability to find target customers and keep them coming back. According to serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban: “Sales cures all. There’s never been a company that succeeded without sales.”4
Planning: Entrepreneurs need to be realistic about what they can take on and accomplish with a new business; this requires establishing a budget and timeline for reaching specific goals.
Communication: Business owners must speak the required language to a variety of audiences, from vendors and customers to bankers and investors
Customer Focus: Whether their experiences are positive or unpleasant, a business owner must be focused on customer wants, needs and what will keep them coming back.
Curiosity: They must be curious about what their competitors are doing, what technology and processes could help streamline their entity, and they must use their imagination to help differentiate their business.
Entrepreneurs who are concerned that personality and skills aren’t enough to get their business up and running can consider taking an online class on startups from the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston. These two are among the instructors of Y Combinator’s Startup School in Silicon Valley, which offers a 10-week online course for high-growth startup founders.5
Entrepreneurs ready to unveil that new venture can keep in mind the following marketing tactics:6
- Color improves brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
- Email marketing has a 122 percent median return on investment — four times higher than social media, direct mail or paid search.
- Content marketing yields three times more leads than paid searches.
- By 2021, mobile e-commerce will account for 54 percent of all online sales.
Interested in starting your own business but don’t have a novel idea to start one? Take a critical look at the businesses around you. From a customer perspective, what are they doing wrong? How could you do it better? One young entrepreneur started her own fitness center after hating a yoga class. She combined the types of exercise she did like into a new fitness boutique — and found an audience who agreed.7
Combining these talents, skills and tactics could lead to a winning formula for those entrepreneurs willing to put in the work to succeed — and may spark some ideas if you’re looking for a new venture in retirement.
1 Ashley Crouch. Forbes. July 12, 2018. “How To Leverage Your Personality For Success, According To The Creators Of Launch Pop.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleycrouch/2018/07/12/how-to-leverage-your-personality-for-success-according-to-launch-pop/#49c7608a708f. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
3 Murray Newlands. Regions Bank. “5 Most Important Business Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Have.” https://www.regions.com/Insights/Small-Business/Operations/5-Most-Important-Skills-Every-Entreprenuer-Must-Have. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
4 Minda Zetlin. Inc. Aug. 23, 2017. “Mark Cuban Says This Is the 1 Mistake New Entrepreneurs Always Make.” https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/mark-cuban-sanyin-siang-entrepreneurship-mistakes-funding-vcs-sales.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
5 Sean Wise. Inc. Aug. 23, 2018. “5 Online Courses Every Entrepreneur Should Take (and How to Get the Most Out of Them).” https://www.inc.com/sean-wise/5-online-courses-every-entrepreneur-should-take-and-how-to-get-most-out-of-them.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
6 Gabriel Shaoolian. Forbes. Aug. 10, 2018. “10 Marketing, Web Design & Branding Statistics To Help You Prioritize Business Growth Initiatives.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/gabrielshaoolian/2018/08/10/10-marketing-web-design-branding-statistics-to-help-you-prioritize-business-growth-initiatives/amp/. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.
7 Jeff Bercovici. Inc. September 2018. “This Entrepreneur Built One of America’s Fastest-Growing Fitness Companies for People Who Hate Yoga.” https://www.inc.com/magazine/201809/jeff-bercovici/2018-inc-5000-y7-studio-yoga-fitness-trends.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.