What qualities Define a Successful Entrepreneur?


Start by asking Cleveland.

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Joe HarkinsAccording to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, small businesses created 63 percent of all net new jobs between 1993 and mid-2013. The U. S. Census Bureau says 89.8 percent of those businesses have fewer than 20 workers. Small businesses really are the engine that drives our economy.

We asked Mark A. Cleveland, recently recognized as a 2015 Williamson County Impact Award winner, for his insights into entrepreneurship. Mark is co-founder of Swiftwick athletic socks and CEO of Brentwood-based Hobby Express (formerly Hobby Lobby, International, Inc.). In 2014 Mark was selected as a “Most Admired CEO” (Nashville Business Journal, 26-100 employees category) and as “Entrepreneur of the Year” (NEXT Awards, Nashville Chamber of Commerce). He is currently serving as a Mentor at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Wheelhouse sat down with Mark to hear his keys to successful entrepreneurship.

What key qualities should an aspiring business owner have to be successful?

The difference between success and failure often boils down to GRIT – guts, resilience, intelligence and tenacity. You either have GRIT or you don’t. GRIT helps you deal with uninformed critique, increasing competition, gyrating market forces, the burdens of taxes, regulation and compliance.

Why is leadership important in business ownership? 

Effective leaders focus on empowerment, change management and collaboration while seeking a diversity of opinion. Business ownership is a life filled with constant course corrections. Management is focused on stability, control, uniformity and managing risks. Leaders set the stage for what’s done next, build a vision and then get out of the way.

Why is now a great time to start a business?

The best time to start a business is in dark economic times because it challenges your self-imposed limits. Nothing is safe, so risks look less daunting. The stronger the economy, the more people pay attention to relative risk, and the less creative we are as a result.

Are you a candidate for business ownership? Does the entrepreneurial spirit live inside you? If you have grit, passion, determination and adequate start-up capital, now is a great time to take the next step.

Joe Harkins, Wheelhouse Marketing Advisors

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