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Implementer’s Key Entrepreneurial Attribute: Patience

In order for a company to be truly successful, it needs three key attributes: Patience, Consistency and Focus. The Implementer entrepreneurial style is the most patient of the three styles.
You are willing to work through a plan. You understand that everything will not be resolved today and that it’s important to look at the longer term pay off. You must work with your Operators and Visionaries to share this reality. Because you can see the longer term vision in your head, you will find this frustrating and it will require explaining and re-explaining your approach.

Your Operator counterparts are anxious because they want all of the details worked out today. They don’t like ambiguity and will see the gaps in the plan as a lack of strategy or planning. Reassure them that what you are doing today will make tomorrow better. At some point as processes improve and you start to see progress, remind these team members of the early days and give them a sense of how far you have come.

Remember, you rely on the Operators to take care of the details that drive you crazy and run the processes over the long term.

Your Visionary counterparts want everything to be done today. The details frustrate them and they tend to believe everything is “easy” – or should be easier than it is. They are the first to recommend abandoning a plan when they don’t see early fruit. As soon as the plan starts to work, they will take credit and claim it was their idea all along. You play a crucial role in keeping these individuals “in the boat”.

Visionaries are important to you because they look at the problem through a broader lense and will recommend an idea neither an you or an Operator will consider. Rely on them for brainstorming and long term strategic planning – but don’t expect they will build the railing necessary to put these plans in play.

#1 Patience

I am often asked what it takes to start a company and see it prosper and succeed. Of course, there’s a long list of factors: money, people, technology, good advice, and judgment, to name a few. One thing I tell every person considering an entrepreneurial venture is the importance of having a lot of patience.

In a world of instant information, feedback, and connection we are spoiled into believing that everything is “instant.” That combined with overnight small business success stories makes patience all that much more difficult.

I admit this advice comes from someone who is not patient. I want things to happen quickly and according to plan. But I have found that if I exercise patience, the end result is always better: the partnership more on-target, the contract richer, the hire a better fit.

I am not suggesting that you stop setting goals and timelines. Both are very important to not only motivate you and your colleagues, but also to measure progress and provide guideposts. But as you move through your entrepreneurial journey, pay close attention to the pressure you are applying. Is it consistent, purposeful pressure like that needed to create a diamond? Or are you using the brute force of a sledgehammer?

The business graveyard is filled with companies that didn’t properly exercise patience. Expectations were out of line and leaders did too much, too soon. WebVan, a grocery delivery service in the 90s, moved too quickly to expand, and took on infrastructure and overhead at lightning speed. The company ultimately collapsed under that weight. Netflix hastily announced the creation of a separate Qwikster DVD-by-mail service and lost 800,000 subscribers before it was even created.

I am no expert at exercising patience, but I understand that as the leader of my organization my attitude impacts everyone I interact with–our customers, my employees, my spouse–and they will in turn feed off of that energy in a positive, or negative way.

If you are sure of your mission and of your ultimate destination, lean forward with an understanding that it will take longer than you expected.

If your entrepreneurial style is Operator, patience is your greatest entrepreneurial strength.