5 Traits of Transformational Entrepreneurs

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From Amazon to Tesla, there is plenty of disruption happening in the marketplace today. These companies are connected to their customers, and they are disrupting by zeroing in on exactly what their audience needs.

During a keynote address at BizConCLE, early investor in companies such as Facebook and Netflix Mark Thompson said there are five characteristics demonstrated by entrepreneurs who share this knack for disruption.

Trait No. 1: A disruptive dream
Thompson said the most disruptive companies have the same characteristics as a space mission: a big, hairy, audacious goal. They have a clear mission. And, beyond that, these business owners have a passion and sense of urgency, too.

Game-changers such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and others didn’t get ahead by playing it safe, he said. They understood that big companies should never be disrupted and weren’t afraid to take risks.

These luminaries also understood, Thompson said, the importance of building a strong team and that disruptors work best when they work together.

Trait No. 2: Fanatic discipline and continual learning
Tesla’s Elon Musk is a terrific example of a disruptor who is not afraid to continue learning about his customers. Crowdsourcing insights into how customers use your product is a fantastic way to stay connected to what the fans of your business want.

Trait No. 3: Productive paranoia
Think about the worst possible thing that could happen to your business. If you had to rebuild your business from scratch, would you rebuild it the same way? Leading disruptors are thinking about this all of the time, Thompson said. And they’re not afraid to break conventional wisdom to keep their business fresh.

Trait No. 4: Partnership
As was alluded to previously, transformative businesses differentiate themselves through partnerships. Your technology and your processes can be copied. The strategic alliances you have, on the other hand, cannot.

Thompson added that sustainable success is only possible when you give it to others, such as your customers, your team, etc. Relatedly, if you can identify who is making the buying decisions, it will make it easier for your business to be successful.

Trait No. 5: Defining success
No two people are going to define success exactly the same way. In fact, Thompson said Virgin’s Richard Branson addresses this at the beginning of a lot of his meetings by asking his associates, “What does success look like for us on this project?”

It’s important for entrepreneurs to not assume that everyone who’s important to your business defines success the same way you do. Again, it’s critical to stay connected to your customers and consistently deliver what they want.