6 Things All Entrepreneurs Need to Be Successful Leaders

Keith Krach
May 6, 2016

The entrepreneur plays an important role in the American economy. Filling market needs through the creation of a new business gives consumers the products they want, and brings the market the new money it needs to grow. Entrepreneurship demands creativity and commitment to hard work, and leads to innovations that help society evolve. 

Pallab Seth bia Getty Images

In spite of lofty ambitions, the majority of startups fail, with some estimates as high as 9 out of 10 of these businesses ending operations within four years. Of the 10 percent that make it, however, most are directed by a skilled leader who likely uses these six important tools to drive success.

1. A great mentor

Think of any big name from the list of today’s successful entrepreneurs, and it’s likely you’ll have picked the name of someone who sought the support of a business mentor. Some inexperienced startup founders feel as though the self-sufficiency and hard work that helped them establish their business will continue to propel them forward, but then find their operations at a standstill.

Startup leaders who want to advance their companies to the next level of success need to take advantage of the resources that mentors have to offer. A talented mentor can help you navigate the unfamiliar territory that comes with entrepreneurial success, offer guidance with major business decisions, and help you identify strengths and weaknesses in both your business and your leadership approach.

2. Willingness to take risks

One of the most common pieces of advice that entrepreneurs receive is to take calculated risks when given the chance. Taking the right risks can yield those significant benefits that build upon themselves. Entrepreneurs who take risks tend to find more unexpected business opportunities than their more cautious counterparts, and also set themselves apart by establishing a confident, bold reputation.

Entrepreneurs who take risks may experience failures, but the process is conducive to learning, and every so-called “failure” can teach you something. Success needs to be actively pursued, and sometimes pursuing it will require you to take risks. It’s cliché, but not taking any risks is probably the biggest mistake of all.

3. The right team

Industry experts label many different aspects of a startup as the “most important factor,” but one indisputably valuable element in the creation of a successful startup is the staff. Successful startups always seek to hire the best people that can possibly be recruited, strategically filling positions with people who have skills and knowledge that the firm needs 

The leadership teams of successful startups are dynamic and committed to the same vision. These teams are composed of talented individuals with a diverse array of skills who are capable of working toward a common goal, despite personal differences 

4. Adaptability

A leader who can navigate the changes that come with an increasingly digital business landscape is necessary for any company that aims to grow. Digitization is changing the way that people do business, and new technologies can change the way that an industry operates at any given point.

Entrepreneurs who are successful leaders understand the value of speed and adaptability, and do not dwell on setbacks caused by the changes that come with a digital future. Instead, they actively anticipate changes and work to use them to their advantage, improving operations as necessary.

5. Vision

A successful startup leader not only has big ideas for the company, but he or she has the vision necessary to root those dreams in reality. Major success at a startup is achieved through the identification of good opportunities and the development of strategic plans that allow those opportunities to flourish.

Vision helps leaders succeed because it provides them with direction when unforeseen obstacles make the path to success less clear. Having vision also provides the company with a barometer for success; vision is a way to measure achievements and can be used to ascertain when goals should be reassessed and revised.

6. Strong business ethics

The most successful entrepreneurs have a strong code of business ethics that helps them oversee internal operations, as well as the interactions with other companies. Ethical business practices allow employees to feel comfortable following you as a leader, and allow other businesses to feel confident that doing business with you is a good decision.

Leaders who behave ethically when making deals and conducting business may also be seen as more reliable by consumers. In age when consumers want to feel personally connected to the brands they support, avoiding unscrupulous practices helps a company establish credibility and earn trust.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.