Is there a science to building a billion-dollar business? Is there an archetypal mind for business that precipitates ingenuity and success? These might arguably be called billion-dollar questions.
Though the Gateses, Kochs, Hearsts, Buffets, Zuckerbergs, Rockeffelers, Fords, Allens, Besoses, and Arnaults don’t share the same family genes (except within their own respective families), they and other prominent billionaires in the world share some notable traits. Jose Hawilla, owner, and founder of the sports-marketing empire, the Traffic Group, points to particular traits he notices among his fellow empire builders.
The globally renowned promotions magnate offers his list of traits common to the most successful entrepreneurs worldwide.
Before you get to any of the other traits, this one must come first, says Hawilla, who began his career as a sports journalist in his home country of Brazil. He cites the keen sense of timing and a focus on preparation to capitalize on timing come from somewhat learned and somewhat innate smarts. Hawilla credits his partners at the Traffic Group with a great sense of timing for gaining TV rights and other promotional holdings throughout the globe’s sporting events—from soccer or football, to golf, to basketball.
An influential business person should not hesitate to use his or her intellect to command the attention of a room full of listeners at a strategic or organizational meeting. This person should also be able to inspire the group in said room, says Hawilla.
Hawilla points to a quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs: “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
A leader can identify and illustrate what the people in the room cannot when it comes to common desires or goals, notes Hawilla.
This trait actually segues from that of being a leader, says Hawilla. “You cannot complete a major transaction without a team behind you,” he notes. “You must master the arts of writing and speaking in order to inspire your team and realize your common objective or desire.” You cannot win the publicity rights to a sporting industry, for instance, without a working team with expertise in what that industry needs to raise its profile, he notes.
A Flair for Competition
Like the sports groups he promotes, Jose Hawilla maintains that competition must pulse in the veins of a business champion. The drive to do better than your industry peers proves to be an essential trait to leading the pack, according to Hawilla.
Fairness and Responsiveness
The first industrial automaker, Henry Ford, considered labor—his workers—as the most critical factor to his company’s success. Economists credit Ford for his keen, intuitive sense for the welfare of his workers, who Ford attributed for making the fruitful seasons of the earth useful to men.
Your labor force is only as good as its leader’s name and integrity. Hawilla says the skill of listening to workers or team members with genuine concern and the willingness to react or respond to their input—to put words into action—proves essential to the longevity and productivity of any enterprise.
Ford considered labor forces a fundament of life who rightfully deserve a stake in a company’s success.
A Risk Taker
Whether it involves your own personal capital, 60-hour work weeks—i.e., making your work your life—investing with someone else’s capital in something you believe in, or relying on your sagacity to show consumers what they have wanted for a long time while putting it on store shelves for the very first time, a successful entrepreneur must take risks.
An opinion article in Entrepreneur notes, “Risk-taking is almost synonymous with entrepreneurship. To start and support your own business, you’ll have to put your career, personal finances, and even your mental health at stake.”
Hawilla agrees. He credits risk for much of the Traffic Group’s success and standing in the sport world.
All strong leaders exhibit a likeable, charismatic personality, says Hawilla. Often the traits of leadership, competitiveness, integrity, and communication combine to create charisma or magnetism. In other instances, it is something simply built into the DNA of a person. Without personality and amiability, you cannot lead a team to a company’s overall objective or its ultimate success, says Hawilla.