By Craig Shimasaki

that propels some entrepreneurs to succeed and other to fail?

Defining Success and Failure       
        In order to talk about the traits of successful entrepreneurs, we must first start with a better understanding of “success” and “failure”.  Success is often erroneously defined as—everything you do produces a favorable outcome.  If “success” is equated with never having an idea that did not work, never having a business shut-down, or never encountering insurmountable product development problems, then there are very few successful entrepreneurs in this world, and it is near certain that you too will not be “successful”. 

        True success is--ultimately accomplishing a desired purpose.  True success is buried deep within the continuance of work, regardless of opposition, in spite of setback, in the face of roadblocks and folded companies. True success has more to do with where you draw the finish line, rather than solely the outcome of events.  

        The invention of the electric light bulb was met with extraordinary “failures”, but Thomas Edison the American inventor holding 1,093 patents, didn’t draw the finish line prematurely.  He continued his work amidst “failure” even when others gave up and concluded it could not work.  Later, when Edison was asked about his innumerable failures while working to discover the optimal light bulb filament, he said “I never failed once—it was just a 2,000 step process”.    

        There are many significant characteristics that accompany successful entrepreneurs, and a number of important ones are discussed in the book, “The Business of Bioscience”, however, two readily distinguishable traits worth noting are, that successful entrepreneurs all possess (1) passion for their work and (2) a vision for its future.

Passion for Your Work       
        Passion is what keeps the fire within blazing when others attempt to throw water on the flames.  Naysayers will inform an entrepreneur of the myriad of reasons why an idea, product or business cannot succeed. A wise entrepreneur will always heed advice about obstacles and be creative to overcome these, but successful entrepreneurs do not quit simply because others have explained why something cannot be done. Naysayers operate under Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, which says: an object at rest tends to stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force.  Naysayers rarely overcome the inertia of inactivity.  Although they can easily spot problems in a business plan or idea, they are hard-pressed to come up with solutions, simply because it takes too much creative energy for them to do so.  

        The successful entrepreneur however is self-motivated, and their momentum is internally generated by their passion.  They operate in the corollary to the 1st Law of Motion, which says: an object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force.  The successful entrepreneur is in perpetual motion, and they overcome outside forces through creative ideas and solutions. 

Having Vision       
        Successful entrepreneurs are visionaries.  Vision is seeing with your internal eyes, and not just with the eyes in your head.  Anyone can “see” the circumstances, but only inspired entrepreneurs see what others do not see.  Sometimes this aspect of vision can be taken too far afoul and becomes “entrepreneurial myopia”, which is really ignoring realities (see 9/30/09 post).  Having true vision is seeing with both sets of eyes without losing sight of the internal vision.

        Orville and Wilbur Wright had a vision of flying, as did many other entrepreneurs and inventors.  Before the 1900’s, the majority of the world said it could not be done.  Many concluded that, "if God meant us to fly he would have given us wings".  The Wright brothers believed that they were indeed given wings, and they worked to perfect them.  They pursued their vision, and on December 17, 1903—they did fly.  

The Takeaway Tidbit        
        Successful entrepreneurs have diverse personalities yet all possess a core group of similar traits. Some are born with these core traits; for others, these traits are acquired during their career. However, passion and vision are two critical components that ALL successful entrepreneurs possess.

by Craig Shimasaki
Discouraging news was announced about the unlawful practices of Pfizer in marketing its drugs to physician's using free golf, massages, and resort junkets, along with promoting off-label uses for several of their drugs (read complete story).  The Justice Department said that Pfizer's sales people created sham requests from physicians asking about unapproved drug uses and then the company mailed the information to doctors.  This $2.3 billion settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company.  Government attorneys noted that this is actually the fourth settlement over illegal marketing with Pfizer or one of its subsidiaries since 2002.  Associated Press reports that the Massachusetts U.S. attorney said while Pfizer was negotiating deals on past misconduct, they were continuing to violate the very same laws with other drugs.

The TakeAway Tidbit 
          Every Industry is in Need of Value-Based Leadership!  
          This is true for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry since they seek to cure, treat and diagnose some of the world's most devastating illnesses that still plague the world.  Trust and credibility are the intangibles of a biotech entrepreneur, yet these are the currencies upon which a successful business is built, grown and sustained (See Nature Biotechnology Article, Credibility: Your Most Important Asset).  All choices and decisions emanate from an individual's core values.  When the goal of generating profits is sought irrespective of the method, then symptoms such as seen with Pfizer's marketing practices will surface throughout an organization.  Holding to core values during challenging financial times provides a compass rather than a map and gives a company the direction it needs in the midst of the storm.  Possessing enduring core values can steer one clear of many potential pitfalls in business and in life.  Be sure to hold on to, and ascribe to, those core values that are supportive of successful business practices.  Your company will then be built upon a strong and enduring foundation from which to grow and it will provide you and your organization the best chance for success.  For those interested in more about this topic, two good books to read are Jim Collin's book, Good to Great, and Hal Urban's book, Life's Greatest Lessons: 20 Things that Matter