Babies and Entrepreneurs: 8 Common Traits
I was playing with my one year old son the other day and it occurred to me that he was behaving in a very similar manner as many successful entrepreneurs I have been around. First let me introduce you to the little guy Kareem.
Here are some of the behaviors he exhibits that he shares with successful entrepreneurs:
1- Sense of Purpose: From the second he wakes up, he gets going. He plays and explores the world around him. He is supercharged with this incredible energy. A few times in the day he will need to refuel and recharge. Believe me, when he’s hungry we have to feed him immediately!
Entrepreneurs are driven by a vision and are known to have an incredible drive and energy to realize that vision. Many are known to see well beyond what everyone else sees and are willing to live through the ambiguity of how to get there. Look at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Virgin’s Richard Branson, Apple’s late Steve Jobs, and many others that are radiating energy as they move towards their visions.
2- Persistent: When he sets his mind to something, he does not let any obstacle get in his way. Even if the obstacle is an “authority” figure like his mom or me. If resistance doesn’t change our minds, he will switch to charm and before we know it, his mom and I are standing there laughing at how cute he is while he victoriously doing what he wanted in the first place.
If there is one thing entrepreneurs need to succeed, it’s persistence. Many obstacles come up such as shortage of cash, people, competitors, and many other set backs that will test his/her commitment.
3- Picks his Battles: He lets go when it’s not worth it. If he doesn’t manage to get the toy he wants despite his persistence, he will smoothly switch on to something more interesting.
Entrepreneurs have an overwhelming number of decisions to make, things to do, problems to solve, and opportunities to take. A key skill they need to have is to prioritize what to focus on, what to leave for later, and what to let go of.
4- Takes Risk: Risk is not in his vocabulary, literally. That’s why he has parents as advisors and bodyguards protecting him from getting himself into too much trouble.
To succeed, an entrepreneur must take risks. A smart entrepreneur is not reckless with taking risks. S/he takes calculated risks that help him/her move towards his/her vision. S/he will listen to advisors, but will make up his/her own mind on whether to go ahead or not.
5- Takes Action: When he wants something, he goes out and gets it. He doesn’t procrastinate or wait for someone to get it for him or complains that he doesn’t have it. He just sets his mind to it and goes to get it.
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must have that internal locus of control. You will need to make decisions with limited information and clarity on what waits ahead. They prefer to take action rather wait.
6- Delegates: When he can’t get to the toy he wants, he will effectively recruit his mom or I to get it for him so he can play and explore. He communicates his needs clearly (even if he can’t speak yet) and rewards us with his charming smile (see point #7).
A smart entrepreneur will realize that s/he can’t do everything alone. S/he will need to surround her/himself with capable people to get things done. Ideally, the entrepreneur should hire-up meaning hire people who are better than him/her at what they do (e.g. better at doing marketing than the entrepreneur is).
7- Charismatic: Being a baby, he is equipped to charm and attract people to him. Studies show that the two physical features that attract adults to babies are baby fat and big round eyes. Their purity makes people want to do things for them.
Regardless of whether the entrepreneur runs a large company or works alone, s/he will need to inspire people to work with, buy from, sell to, invest in, lend to him/her.
8- Free Spirited: Like all children, he looks at the world with endless possibilities. He truly believes he can go anywhere, do anything, and eat anything. He enjoys the moment as he lives it without worrying about the future or fretting about the past. When he laughs, he does it with all his being. Many adults can learn (or unlearn) to be the same.
Entrepreneurs are notorious for hating to be tied down. They like to break the status quo and make things better than they were before. They also deeply believe they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.
Our job as parents is to help nurture these traits in him. Our job as a community is to nurture entrepreneurs in our societies. There is good literature out there about how our schooling system and parenting styles that take the potential out of our children. Sir Ken Robinson’s speech about how schools kill creativity is one of Ted’s most popular videos. Cameron Herold made a great Ted talk about how to raise kids to be entrepreneurs.
How about you? Are you nurturing entrepreneurial traits in your children? Do you need to redevelop some of your own?