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Don’t start a business unless you’ve mastered these traits

All startups begin happy and confident but not all of them succeed. Here are some of the most successful entrepreneurial traits to borrow.

Elon Musk

Nothing beats a great new idea as the foundation for starting a business. Some great ideas take years to refine whilst others spring to mind in amazingly creative ways.

Temper this inspirational moment with these crucial personality traits you need to know before starting your own business. Or, to be blunt, before declaring war on those already in the market space you’re invading.

Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary put it best when he said: “Business is war.”

Know your strengths and weaknesses

In the Art of War Sun Tzu said: “Know yourself and you will win all battles.”

There you are about to upend your career and family life in pursuit of a great new idea. The key question you need to ask is whether you’re the right person for the job you’re appointing yourself to? Is starting up a business the next logical step in your career? Would you give someone with your skills and experience the job? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Entrepreneurs will award the leadership to themselves. An honest assessment of your skills will tell you what you need to build a team that performs.

Know that you’ll succeed

Having appointed yourself as the team leader you now need to be confident you can do the job. Past experience of taking on a challenge and succeeding is a good foundation. All startups begin happy and confident. But truly believing in yourself is demanding. You will have to believe in yourself and your great new idea when others no longer do.

Understand every detail of your market

Great ideas are all very well but the cold reality is that there must be a value proposition. Entrepreneur Michael Skok articulated this well in an article for Forbes.

“A value proposition is a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide for who and how you do it uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives.”

The key message here is understanding why you’re distinctly better than the competition. You will be trying to take customers from the alternatives. Accept that you will be the enemy.

You must know your business plan

Business plans are the death of many great ideas. Boring questions about who would buy your product and how much they would pay can be depressing.

A blank business plan template is intimidating. This is a battle between the optimist and boring reality. Of course, this battle must be won if you want to see your venture grow.

Know when to quit

Serial entrepreneur and Virgin boss Richard Branson knows his stuff. He once said: “Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another one coming.”

The same goes for you. No great idea worth destroying your finances or personal life for. If a business doesn’t show signs of success in due time then that great new idea is not for you or the market right now.

Many successful entrepreneurs have quit something. They always tend to re-emerge better and more successful.

As Sun Tzu also said, “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

Read next: The world’s most valuable startups collectively worth more than US$300 billion

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