The Entrepreneur: What it takes to make it

by brianpetry on

I. Introduction

The purpose of this article is to outline the top five qualities of Howard Schultz, one of 2013’s most accomplished entrepreneurs (Hendricks 2013 ).  Through this article, aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to know what they need to work on in order to better their chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur.  The first of these five qualities is Leadership.  It is essential, as an entrepreneur, to be able to lead those who are under you in order to get tasks accomplished.  The second quality is communication, an entrepreneur needs to be able to communicate with others exactly what it is that they want accomplished.  The third quality is decision-making; a successful entrepreneur will use this skill every day.  One of the most important skills an entrepreneur will need to have in order to be successful is perseverance.  Without this skill, it is impossible to be a successful entrepreneur.  Lastly, another critical skill is the ability to prioritize and delegate tasks.  This examination of Howard Schultz will show how the skills of leadership, communication, decision-making, perseverance, and prioritization are essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur.



II. Leadership

“New ventures cannot be created without leadership

(Ensley 2006)



Leadership is a very essential skill that every entrepreneur will need to master in order to become successful.  As Michael Ensley states perfectly, “leadership is focused on motivating the behavior of followers through exchange … in doing so; entrepreneurs utilize leadership to capitalize on the self-interests and extrinsic motives of their employees.” (Ensley 2006)

Leadership is important because, “leadership is influence, the ability to obtain followers.” (Jackson 2013)    One reason that leadership is so critical is because a business is a group of people all working together for the purpose of “making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. 2003)  Only through proper leadership, will the entrepreneur be able to get his followers to do what is necessary for his business to be active.  Leadership positively influences the perceptions of meaning, self-efficacy, team potency, and self-determination. (Spreitzer 1996)  Another reason that leadership is so critical is because, “the business will have the blueprint of the leader’s personality ingrained into it.” (Pitts 2008)  As the entrepreneur of a business, if you are not an efficient leader than the company will be a reflection of that.  Every successful entrepreneur has the essential skill of leadership.

One example of a successful entrepreneur being a great leader is Howard Schultz.  He mastered the skill of leadership so well that Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management recognized him for his remarkable leadership skills by awarding him the Distinguished Leadership Award. (Executive Team 2014)

Through mastering the skill of leadership, an entrepreneur can get other people to follow him in his journey of creating a successful company.



III. Communication

“Entrepreneurship theorists point to the importance of communication

(Baum 1998)


Communication is a very crucial skill that all successful entrepreneurs need to master.  Basu and Goswami (1999) found that improving the entrepreneur’s communication skills significantly contributes to the growth of a company because through communication, the followers of the entrepreneur can see his vision for the company.


An entrepreneur needs not only to be capable of communicating with his subordinates but also with his customers.  Successful entrepreneurs should not communicate about what the products that they sell are, but paint a picture of what their product stands for.  This is important because the customer does not just choose to buy a product because of what the product is, but for what the company stands for.


In an interview Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, says, “We’re not in the coffee business.  It’s what we sell as a product but we’re in the people business… it’s all human connection.” (Gallo 2011) One reason that Starbucks is such a successful business is because how well Schultz articulates the vision behind the brand to his employees.  We can see his emphasis on branding his vision into his employees when he says, “The only competitive advantage we have is the relationship we have with our people and the relationship they have built with our customers.” (Gallo 2011)


An entrepreneur needs to be able to communicate his thoughts to both his followers and his customers in order for him to lead his company the way that he envisions it.  It is through mastering the skill of communication that one can become a successful entrepreneur.

IV. Decision-Making

Decision-making is an essential part of entrepreneurship.”

(Low 2009)


All entrepreneurs will have to make decisions, some simple day-to-day decisions and some difficult decisions that may make or break the business.  This skill is necessary in order to become a successful entrepreneur.


The most important reason decision making is such an essential skill for entrepreneurship, is that a wrong choice can become the game changer that makes or breaks an organization.  One example of this is when BlackBerry’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, attempted to sell the company.  By making this decision stockholders lost confidence and the stock price dropped from nearly fifteen dollars to just over five dollars in just six months. (BlackBerry n.d.)  In order to make a good decision the entrepreneur must know as much about the situation at hand as possible lest he make a bad decision costing him his company.


Howard Schultz knows the importance of making decisions; in 2009, he made the difficult decision to cut back on stores – especially in the United States. (Monica 2013)  This was a difficult decision because by doing this he was not only inhibiting growth, but was actually reducing the size of the company.  It was only through doing this that Starbucks was able to survive through the country’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Not only did his company survive, but also as of January 2014 Starbucks has surged more than 800% from the bear market lows.  (Starbucks Corp n.d.)


As an entrepreneur, there will be many difficult decisions that the entrepreneur will need to decide.  These decisions may make or break the company.  However, the skill of proper decision-making is a skill that will only come through practice and it is a very important skill for every entrepreneur.



V. Perseverance

“Through much perseverance and trial and error, the entrepreneur produces something of value.” (Hicks 2009)


Entrepreneurial success is almost never easy and rarely comes overnight; success is a result of sticking through difficulties. That is to say, “perseverance is essential.” (Hicks 2009)


Entrepreneurs must persevere through the technical obstacles in product development, in the face of the naysayers who declare that it is impossible or who are otherwise obstructionist, and in the face of their own self-doubts, it is impossible to become a successful entrepreneur without the skill of perseverance.  “The more proactive the entrepreneur, the more perseverance the entrepreneur will exhibit in overcoming the environmental conditions of an emerging market.” (Persinger 2011)  The entrepreneur’s perseverance through difficulties, disapproval, and other temporary doubts connects with the virtue of independence, which is a common attribute of a successful entrepreneur.


Howard Schultz shows a great example of perseverance.  In an interview he said, “The difference between really winning big and not is perseverance. You have to believe in your dreams. I am living proof of somebody who came from the other side of the tracks and made it. That is why I love being around entrepreneurs so much. I was there myself.”  (Ballon 1999) In another interview he said, “My story is as much one of perseverance and drive as it is of talent and luck.”  (Stoninngton 2010)

Perseverance is a very crucial skill in order to become a successful entrepreneur and build a successful business.  Perseverance is they key difference between a failed company and a successful company.  Through the example of Howard Schultz, it is very clear that perseverance is what allowed him to become the successful entrepreneur that he is today.

VI. Prioritization and Delegation


“Delegation is a skill that is critical to business success.” (Papulová 2007)


One person cannot accomplish everything alone.   He will get too busy and work will take over his personal life, which causes personal unhappiness, stress and other problems.  In order to combat this dilemma an entrepreneur will need to master the skills of prioritization and delegation.


Prioritization is critical. Entrepreneur, Jeramiah Jackson stated, “don’t major in the minors.”  (Jackson 2013) This means that the entrepreneur needs to deal with major issues and prioritization is the only way to know what the major issues are.  Dr. Jackson taught the proper method of prioritizing.  The first issue an entrepreneur needs to look at is importance, that is to say, can anyone besides myself do what needs accomplished.  The second aspect to look at the urgency, the immediacy that the tasks accomplishment requires.  Once the entrepreneur accomplishes the prioritization, he needs to be able to delegate the tasks that he considers unimportant to his subordinates.


Howard Schultz displays how to prioritize and delegate when he hands off day-to-day duties to focus on blending the company’s bricks-and-mortar, e-commerce, digital, card and mobile businesses – what he called “next generation retailing.” (Hsu 2014) Howard shows his mastery in the skills of prioritization when he prioritized “next generation retailing” and delegated his other work to his subsidiaries.

Prioritization and delegation are two very important skills that every successful entrepreneur will need to master.  Through mastering these skills, he can properly manage his time, so as not to major in the minors.

VII. Conclusion



In conclusion, we can see how Howard Schultz, one of 2013’s most accomplished entrepreneurs (Hendricks 2013 ) shows his mastery in leadership, communication, decision-making, perseverance, prioritization and delegation.  Through studying Howard Schultz’s mastery of these skills, aspiring entrepreneurs should be able to know what they need to work on in order to better their chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur.




VIII. Bibliography



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Basu, A. and Goswami, A. 1999. “Determinants of South Asian entrepreneurial growth in Britain: a multivariate analysis.” Small Business Economics, Vol. 13 No. 1 57-70.

Baum, J. Robert, Edwin A. Locke, and Shelley A. Kirkpatrick. 1998. “A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms.” Journal of Applied Psychology 83, no. 1 43.

n.d. BlackBerry. Accessed March 5, 2014.

Ensley, Michael D., Craig L. Pearce, and Keith M. Hmieleski. 2006. “The moderating effect of environmental dynamism on the relationship between entrepreneur leadership behavior and new venture performance.” Journal of Business Venturing 21, no. 2 243-26.

  1. Executive Team . Accessed Feburary 25, 2014.

Gallo, Carmine. 2011. Starbucks CEO: Lesson in Communication Skills. March 25. Accessed February 25, 2014.

Hendricks, Drew. 2013 . Top 10 Entrepreneurs In 2013. December 17. Accessed 2013.

Hicks, Stephen RC. 2009. “What Business Ethics Can Learn from Entrepreneurship.” Journal of Private Enterprise 24, no. 2.

Hsu, Tiffany. 2014. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hands off day-to-day duties. January 29. Accessed March 4, 2014.

Jackson, Dr. Jeremiah. 2013. “Leadership and Management.” John Paul the Great Catholic University. Escondido, October 4.

Low, S. 2009. ” Defining and measuring entrepreneurship for regional research: A new approach.” ProQuest entrepreneurship.

  1. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Monica, Paul R. La. 2013. Is Howard Schultz of Starbucks the best CEO ever? September 12. Accessed March 5, 2014.

Papulová, Zuzana, and Matej Mokros. 2007. “Importance of managerial skills and knowledge in management for small entrepreneurs.” E-leader.

Persinger, Elif S., Emin Civi, and Suzanne Walsh Vostina. 2011. “The born global entrepreneur in emerging economies.” International Business & Economics Research Journal (IBER) 6, no. 3 .

Pitts, Grahame. 2008. “Life as an entrepreneur: leadership and learning.” DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING IN ORGANIZATIONS 16-18.

Spreitzer, G.M. 1996. “Social structural characteristics of psychological empowerment.” Academy of Management 39 483–504.

n.d. Starbucks Corp. Accessed March 5, 2014.

Stoninngton, Joel. 2010. 20 Billionaires Who Started With Nothing. December 1. Accessed Februrary 25, 2014.



Written by: brianpetry

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