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Running a company: You need these five qualities

Whether the founding of a company will be successful or how long a company will hold its own in the market is closely linked to the personal characteristics of the founder.

As part of start-up research, science * is also dedicated to character traits that are characteristic of self-employed entrepreneurs. The one used for this Trait approach or the so-called property theory defines in this context stylistic traits, personality traits, entrepreneur-specific needs and basic motives that distinguish founders from non-entrepreneurs and that exert a direct influence on start-up behavior.

These are the five dynamic traits of capable founders:

  1. The achievement motive
  2. The Internal Control Belief
  3. The willingness to take risks
  4. The pursuit of power
  5. The striving for society

* The dynamic traits go back to the pioneer of motivational start-up research, the behavioral and social psychologist David Clarence McClelland.

Take the test: five essential traits of capable entrepreneurs

1. The achievement motive

People with a high performance need disproportionately often choose an employment relationship with an entrepreneurial function or self-employment as their professional future. McClelland demonstrated this connection in a long-term study that determined the correlation between the extent of the achievement motive and the later career choice of students. A positive relationship between the strength of the achievement motive and the sales success is also empirically proven in start-up research.

Highly performance-oriented people are therefore characterized by

  • a pursuit of moderately difficult but achievable personal goals,
  • a personal performance drive,
  • a constant striving for improvement,
  • direct feedback,
  • a high level of problem-solving skills,
  • Excellent teamwork based on the best minds as well
  • a strong material income orientation.

Individual studies criticize the emphasis on the achievement motive as the top motive for the will to start a business and entrepreneurial success. In summary, however, it can be stated that the achievement motive in connection with entrepreneurial success is "the most investigated and verified construct in start-up research".

2. The internal control belief (feasibility thinking)

The internal control belief, or internal behavior control or feasibility thinking, is about how strongly you believe you can influence significant circumstances. A fundamental distinction is made between internal and external control beliefs:

  • Internal control belief: The internal conviction of control expresses that a positive or negative event is perceived as a consequence of one's own behavior.
  • External belief in control: An external belief in control exists when an event occurs independently of one's own behavior.

In both cases, the perception of a situation is decisive. People with a strong conviction of control actively try to improve their environment and attach greater importance to improving their performance and skills. This is expressed, among other things, in the fact that you use failures to continuously develop yourself.

3. The willingness to take risks

The essential trait of willingness to take risks, which is characteristic of entrepreneurs, is undeniable. Here, however, it is less about appearing as a kamikaze, but more about the right amount of resource use to ROI.

Scientists have found that successful entrepreneurs have a medium risk appetite. However, the opposite poles do not lead to pronounced entrepreneurial success. Too low a risk is of no interest to entrepreneurs, too high a risk is avoided because the prospects of success are too low.

If the willingness to take risks is linked to the achievement motive and the internal conviction of control, people with a high achievement motive prefer to pursue high but achievable goals and exclude unrealistic goals (medium willingness to take risks). A business start-up is therefore particularly suitable for highly motivated people and founders with a medium willingness to take risks, who at the same time are characterized by a pronounced internal conviction of control.

4. The pursuit of power

The power motive initially describes the desire to control behavior and is also referred to as the preference for social influence. Here, too, researchers assume, similar to the willingness to take risks, that successful founders and entrepreneurs have a medium need for power. Depending on the approval or rejection, social influence is characterized, among other things, by the following skills and needs:

  • Cooperation,
  • social consensus,
  • Striving for adjustment or
  • Competitor,
  • social demarcation and
  • Striving for superiority.

Interesting background: The power motive is much more pronounced than with company founders, for example with people who are active in the political field.

5. Social striving or social initiative

The last typical trait of entrepreneurs is the striving for society. This is also known as a social initiative or, in short, your ability to establish relevant networks.

Typical company founders shouldn't have a problem interacting with their fellow human beings. The strength of networks formed in this way depends on the frequency, level and reciprocity of those involved. In order to cope with, for example, times of business crisis, not only business networks are relevant, but also the ability to build sustainable emotional relationships.

Conclusion: am I an entrepreneur?

Despite the fact that the aforementioned traits of capable entrepreneurs have proven to be typical in many studies, you should consider other factors for your individual company's success. In a constantly changing business world, personal dispositions must always be measured against external context factors. A pronounced adaptability and preparation for a wide variety of scenarios is therefore characteristic of companies that run according to the VUCA model.

Entrepreneurship: Take the test

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