This blog is about the "how-to" of transforming an idea into a sustainable movement, helping wisdom entrepreneurs achieve success more easily and intentionally. The how-to's don't say anything about personal traits that contribute to success. Enter a few thoughts on what it takes to be an entrepreneur, in general.

My husband pointed me to the blog, Get Rich Slowly and today's posting, "Hustle and Patience: What It Takes to Succeed in 2009."  There are some real gems related to A Bigger Voice. The posting is about entrepreneurship. I took away five traits that are critical to the idea of building anything from the ground up.
Patience
Photo by imjoshdotcom

  • Patience. It takes time to grow an idea into something sustainable, whether you are starting from an insight to address a social condition or a skill that can be turned into a business. I've been working on A Bigger Voice for over a year. Some days, it feels like progress comes slowly. And yet, slow and steady does win the race. I know that from my coaching and consulting business.  It wasn't until year three that I was able to make a living at something that I was pretty good at, had lots of passion around, and had committed myself to full-time. 
  • Proactivity. J.D., the blogger for Get Rich Slowly uses the term hustle, which can have a negative connotation. I think of this as proactivity, always on the lookout for opportunity, and being willing to take action. It also means being up for trying something new and changing direction based on feedback. This trait reminds me that turning an idea into a movement has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time–not because you fell into it, but because you made yourself accessible to outside information and read the signs pointing to the next opportunity. This relates directly to the tools that A Bigger Voice uses in the Community-Building phase–Networking, Marketing, and Technology.
  • Persistence
    Persistence.
    Not only does it take time to build a movement, it takes hard work. J.D. talks specifically about blogging and building an audience.  Building a community, whether online or offline, using lots of whiz bang social media or regular in-person meetings, takes work. Crystallizing your vision and linking it to your life story takes work. Planting the seeds for monetizing, so that your efforts become sustainable, takes work. I've been playing with Twitter recently. I haven't yet decided to put the work into it to make it work for me. And I know that it won't pay off until I commit to doing the work.  Photo by alexindigo.
  • Passion. Where would any of this be without passion? Passion is what fuels the journey, and makes it not just bearable but enjoyable. Otherwise, why do it?
  • Paradox. I've left this one for last, because it's something that's often overlooked. J.D. talks about the dichotomy of artist/entrepreneur. Embracing both sides can feel like a paradox. Yet often, it's not one approach that will get you to where you want to go, but taking the best of many approaches. I've referred to the power of hybrids, having a "both/and" vs. an "either/or" mindset. Being able to adopt the "both/and" way of thinking (e.g., how can I do good and do well at the same time?) is a valuable trait.

If you are a wisdom entrepreneur–an innovator with an intense dislike for some condition affecting society, insight from your life to address that condition and commitment to transform insight into a movement–tell me what traits you see as important. I'm curious to know.

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  1. Dave Murphy on January 14, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Having just attended a presentation by Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea” & a social entrepreneur seeking to bring peace to Afghanistan & Pakistan through education, it’s clear that one of his most powerful traits is a very focused vision.

    His story is wonderful & almost serendipitous in terms of how he came to define his cause. But once his efforts grabbed traction & he saw the outcomes, he was able to stay with a tight vision & not stray too far. Clearly he’s accomplishing many things, but for him it always comes back to education.

    In business there’s a nice example with Southwest Airlines obsession about being “THE low-cost carrier” – all business operations must answer to that directive. Mr. Mortenson has that same tight focus that everything ties back to education.

  2. Carol Ross on January 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Ah, yes, a focused vision. I’ve found this one to be elusive and I know that my journey would be easier if I could establish this clearly. Thanks, Dave, for adding that factor to the entire equation.

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