You take action.
Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group, co-star of TV’s Shark Tank and author of Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, says people who have a concept but not necessarily a detailed strategy are more likely to have that entrepreneurial je ne sais quoi. “I hate entrepreneurs with beautiful business plans,” she says.
Corcoran’s recommendation? “Invent as [you] go,” rather than spending time writing a plan at your desk. In fact, she believes that people with life experience have an active problem-solving ability and think-on-your-feet resourcefulness that can be more valuable than book smarts alone. Those who study business may be prone to over analyzing situations rather than taking action.
“Many entrepreneurs judged as ambitious are really insecure underneath,” Corcoran says. When evaluating potential investments, she adds, “I want someone who is scared to death.” Those who are nervous about failing can become hyperfocused and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. If you feel insecure, use that emotion to drive you to achieve your business goals.
You don’t ask for permission.
Stephane Bourque, founder and CEO of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Incognito Software, says true entrepreneurial types are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission, forging ahead to address the opportunities or issues they recognize.
“Entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo,” says Bourque, who discovered he was not destined for the corporate world when his new and better ways of doing things were interpreted as unwanted criticism by his bosses. Now, he says, “I wish my employees would get into more trouble,” because it shows they are on the lookout for opportunities to improve themselves or company operations.
Where most avoid risk, entrepreneurs see potential, says Robert Irvine, chef and host of Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible. True ’treps are not afraid to leverage their houses and run up their credit card balances to amass the funds they need to create a new venture. In some ways, he says, they are the ultimate optimists, because they believe that their investments of time and money will eventually pay off.
You love a challenge.
When confronted by problems, many employees try to pass the buck. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, rise to the occasion. “Challenges motivate them to work harder,” says Jeff Platt, CEO of the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park franchise. “An entrepreneur doesn’t think anything is insurmountable … He looks adversity in the eye and keeps going.”
Actress Jessica Alba, co-founder and president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based The Honest Company, which sells baby, home and personal-care products, notes that “it’s important to surround yourself with people smarter than you and to listen to ideas that aren’t yours. I’m open to ideas that aren’t mine and people that know what I don’t, because I think success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure.”