A different breed Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Ilove talking with business leaders. Call me a business nerd, but there are few things more interesting to me than conversations with people running a company or a division of a company, and getting inside their minds to understand how they think.

But talk to an entrepreneur and you’ll get a slightly different perspective on leadership, management and business. As the person who founded and grew the company, an entrepreneur approaches everything as someone who has everything to lose or gain.

A few years ago, I identified four traits nearly every entrepreneur has. As we present you with the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards coverage in this issue, it’s worth revisiting those unique characteristics.

  • Risk-taker. Entrepreneurs lay all their money on the table. They aim high and bet big, accepting the fact that odds are they will lose more often than they will win. Successful entrepreneurs, however, learn from their mistakes and apply the lessons to their next venture.

  • Vision. Visionaries clearly see what they want to accomplish and remain focused on their goals. How many people would have been willing to bet on a guy claiming people would buy $4 cups of coffee? But Howard Schultz did just that when he founded his first Starbucks coffee-house, and today, he runs one of the world’s most successful and well-known brands.

  • Confidence. Failure is never an option to an entrepreneur. There’s always a solution waiting to be found that results in success. Failure happens, of course, but that’s the downside of taking risks.

    True entrepreneurs exude a steady, confident attitude that says if they just stick with it, the business will succeed. They have utter faith in their product or service, and they never, ever waver.

  • Motivator. Because they’re not content with the long process of working their way up at a large company, proving themselves at every level and building legions of believers along the way, entrepreneurs possess the ability to inspire employees, build champions and get the most out of talented rising stars.

As you read through our special report on this year’s honorees, keep in mind these four traits and think about how they apply to your own leadership and management style.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com