Three key characteristics of entrepreneurs that can build companies that scale

By Desh Deshpande

(Editor’s note: This is Part-13 of the weekly video column with philanthropist and serial entrepreneur Desh Deshpande, with excerpts from his book “On Entrepreneurship and Impact.” This column appears every Monday.)

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”  — Salvador Dalî

Desh Deshpande

“What enables entrepreneurs to build scalable companies?”

An enterprise that scales is an exception rather than a rule.

There are a few characteristics that need to come together in an entrepreneur for them to be successful in scaling their idea into a significant company.

The first is the right blend of managerial skills. Entrepreneurs need to know how to manage growth, to delegate effectively and motivate people as their companies grow.

However management skills alone are not sufficient unless they also possess a certain desire, a certain ambition. An entrepreneur’s ambition has to be big in order to be able to build a large company. The size of your ambition will ultimately affect your vision, as well as how you set goals.

In addition, your implicit expectations are also the limiting factor in your goal setting. For example, if your goal is for personal financial independence, you might seize an opportunity for an exit sooner as it might allow you to build your nest egg before your company reaches its full potential.

That brings me to the last and equally important element: commitment. I often like to compare this to swimming. If you are practicing, and set a goal of 50 laps a day, the early laps might go great, but then as you approach the fiftieth lap the going gets harder. It is only with commitment that you will finish and achieve that goal.

Yes, building a large company does require many other skills, as you will have to do many different tasks, but if you aren’t committed, the company will only go as far as you take it.

No doubt as an entrepreneur, there will be many challenges along your journey. It’s that ambition to make a meaningful difference in the world and the commitment to keep going against all odds that will get you to the destination and beyond!

(About Desh Deshpande: During his entrepreneurial career spanning over three decades, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande has built several companies. He has injected his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship into a number of social impact initiatives in India, the USA and Canada. He has been recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments by many institutions including being named co-chair of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He currently also serves as a Life Member of the MIT corporation. He resides in Boston together with his wife, Jaishree.)

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