Top 5 skills of a successful entrepreneur:

  1. Do something. Try something. Many successful entrepreneurs have been fired or let go from a former employer and have to act quickly to pay bills. So they start a business without having written a formal business plan, but have a sketch on the back of a napkin.
  2. Beg, borrow or convince people to give or loan resources. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to get resources, assistance and seed funding.
  3. Embrace surprise. Juggle the unexpected and shift gears quickly by seizing opportunities.
  4. Minimize the downside of risks. Great entrepreneurs do not take huge risks. They reside in a state of “heads I win, tails I don’t lose too much” in starting a new business.
  5. Be an effectual thinker. Through entrepreneurial education, emerging entrepreneurs learn to realize they are the pilot-in-command. They are running and starting a business and by trying a business idea out, they may fail. But they will learn from mistakes and can continue moving forward.

More entrepreneurship advice, insights from Emer Dooley’s TEDx lecture:

“Entrepreneurial thinking is a way of looking at and thinking about problems, but very much about doing something about problems.

“There’s this myth about entrepreneurship. Who pops into your brain? It’s Gates or Bezos or Richard Branson. But there is no one type of person that’s an entrepreneur. When I think about the characteristics of an entrepreneur, they can be incredibly gregarious. They can be really shy. They can be these big, big picture thinkers or they can be these obsessive control freaks.

“If you’re a loud-mouth like Ted Turner, it’s natural. You’ll start CNN. If you’re a geek and you’re afraid to approach girls directly, what are you going to do? Start Facebook. If the only way to be an entrepreneur was to be born one, Colonel Sanders would never have started Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was in his 60s and on Social Security.

“There’s the strategic approach or the entrepreneurial or affectual approach. An affectual entrepreneur is someone who thinks they can affect their own world. What can I do with the resources I have at hand? Not, what is the end goal and how do I get there?”

A special thanks to Emer Dooley.

Dr. Emer Dooley is a Faculty Member at University of Washington. She has served on the boards of Social Venture Partners, the Northwest Entrepreneur Network and the League of Education Voters Foundation, among others. Dr. Dooley specializes in technology strategy, entrepreneurship, and venture capital and teaches in both the Business School and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She also works with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE),involving students in all aspects of company creation, technology commercialization and investment. Dr. Dooley was awarded the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997. Prior to joining the university, Dr. Dooley worked as a Senior Design Engineer with Digital Equipment Corporation in Ireland and in United States, and as a Marketing Manager with Mosaix. Dr. Dooley holds a Ph.D. and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington and an M.Eng. and a B.Sc. from the University of Limerick in Ireland.

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