4 Underrated Traits That Boost Your Entrepreneurial IQ
What determines whether a new entrepreneur will succeed or fail? Many variables go into the mix, but when it comes to innate characteristics, researchers think that they’re narrowing down the qualities that help.
One might assume that IQ is a major predictor of success, but research suggests otherwise. In fact, IQ is so poorly correlated with entrepreneurial success that the Founder Institute, which has spent the last decade developing a test to determine if someone will become a successful entrepreneur, has removed it from their assessment altogether.
Instead, they came up with four traits which consistently point to success amongst would-be entrepreneurs. These traits make up your EIQ, or Entrepreneurial IQ, and are more determinative of your success than specific skill sets, relationships or intellect.
Read on and see if you recognise yourself in these traits.
1. Ample professional experience
There’s a prevailing narrative that the most successful startup founders are young (and usually male). Like Zuckerberg and Jobs before them, they drop out of college to start their own business and are well on their way to multi-millionaire status before they’ve reached their 25th birthday.
But in fact, the average age of successful founders is far higher. Entrepreneurs who grew their company to the point of hiring an employee averaged at 41.9 years, whereas entrepreneurs who created a high growth company have an average age of 45. Founders in their early 20s had the lowest chance of success.
In entrepreneurship, as in many things, having some real-life experience is a valuable asset.
2. High fluid intelligence
Fluid intelligence is the ability to generate, transform and manipulate new information in real-time. People with high fluid intelligence are good at recognising patterns, abstract thinking, and they can adapt to new situations and opportunities on the fly. This makes them excellent problem solvers and excellent entrepreneurs.
When developing a new business idea, the ability to manipulate new information is a valuable trait. The landscape can change rapidly between your original idea and bringing it to market, and being able to adapt to those changes is vital.
Fluid intelligence also enables people to learn new skills with greater ease, which is a handy ability for anyone forging their own path through business. At the startup stage, entrepreneurs often find themselves taking on every role at once, from idea generation to marketing, human resources to finances, so being able to pick things up as you go and be a jack of all trades is very useful.
3. Open-minded and optimistic
People who welcome new ideas and are open to change have a trait known as high openness. For entrepreneurs, willingness to think outside the paradigm and embrace new things is key to success.
It may be that your initial business idea just won’t work in its current form, or that a side shoot of that idea turns out to be the real gem. Rolling with the changes and looking for opportunities on the side means you’ll be able to move forward.
Implicit in high openness is a level of optimistic thinking. Successful entrepreneurs maintain an optimism that there are solutions to long-standing problems. If you believe that a problem can be solved, you will be more motivated to solve it, which is central to the entrepreneurial mindset.
Read more: 10 Ways to Make Change Work for You
4. Moderate agreeableness
Agreeableness is not often a trait that comes to mind when you think of entrepreneurs, is it? People believe entrepreneurs must all be tenacious, unwavering and brave. While it is true that entrepreneurs may at times need to be firm to make sure that their businesses thrive, founders who do well long-term are those who are trustworthy and can form and sustain relationships.
Being agreeable doesn’t mean being a pushover. In business as in life, approaching people in good faith helps, not hinders. The ability to collaborate and network adds value and skills to your fledgling business that can help it grow. And if you need to call in a favour, being liked doesn’t hurt!
If you have these four traits, your chances of success as an entrepreneur are good. But what about traits that can hold you back? The Founder Institute warns against the following: excuse-making, aggressiveness, deceitfulness, emotional instability and narcissism. So, when it comes to starting a business, the good guys really do get ahead.
Also read: Why Every Entrepreneur Should Have An MBA
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Founder Institute, Business Insider, Science Direct and Entrepreneur.