What differentiates you from the entrepreneurs who create products and services that, in hindsight, seem so simple? Chances are, you woke up one day and said “How did I not think of that?” or “I did think of that, but didn’t act quick enough on bringing my idea to life.” Well, those entrepreneurs are playing proverbial chess while you were playing checkers. You’re in the wrong game completely – and until you realize it, you’re limiting yourself to a life of mediocrity.

All successful entrepreneurs share at least a few common characteristics. These characteristics – and the lack of your adopting them – are the reason you are still mediocre, at best. What are they? Is it too late for you to change?

1 – Backbone.

Entrepreneurs are not afraid to act. They conjure up a service or product (an oversimplification of what is actually involved), and they try something. The smart entrepreneur takes on a calculated risk to bring their vision to life. This may be as simple as seeking out an incubator or mentor for free preliminary advice on how to being to bring their vision to life. They are driven by the idea of risk, and thrive operating where most people would crumble. Many resources are at your disposal to help you engender your ideas – contact me for more information.

2 – Optimistic solidarity.

The successful entrepreneur is forward-looking and optimistic. Negativity has no part in the entrepreneur’s life. Pessimistic, lazy and aimlessly critical people present nothing but dead weight to the entrepreneur. Other people’s criticism of your ideas and plans are a reflection of their limitations, not yours. Cut them out immediately. Constructive criticism is valuable, but less than 10% of the criticism an entrepreneur receives is truly “constructive”. The audience solicited for constructive criticism must be selected carefully.

3 – Modesty.

The entrepreneur is proud but modest. Remember, the entrepreneur’s ideas were systematically criticized, torn apart and stomped on. The entrepreneur was told his ideas were unrealistic and had little chance of success. After taking the risk to realize the vision, a sense of pride in defying the critics becomes natural to the entrepreneur. However, the true entrepreneur never forgets the struggle in making the realization and remains humble. He seeks out opinions, advice and feedback from all peers (with a much lower threshold than constructive criticism). The entrepreneur realizes the pricelessness of this feedback, and never stops seeking it out. The entrepreneur-turned-manager treats his employees as if he were an assistant, not the “can’t-be-bothered-with” boss.

4 – Defiance.

The entrepreneur realizes that “the system” exists, and has no interest in becoming a part of it. There is a system for every profession, and the safest way to guarantee moderate or even high success is by feeding into the system. Slow and steady wins the race for the 99%. This unsettles the entrepreneur. Instead, the entrepreneur constantly seeks loopholes and innovative methods to bypass and surpass the success “guaranteed” by the system. Instead, the entrepreneur demarcates the norm. The entrepreneur doesn’t become successful; he redefines what success is. Above all, the entrepreneur is not limited by age, educational degree or social status.

Thus, the entrepreneur plays proverbial chess while you play checkers. He strives to better himself by reading and learning of new methods and ideas while you watch the latest episode of The Bachelor (which admittedly can be wildly entertaining, on occasion). Of course, being a true entrepreneur requires a viable level of intelligence, but the opportunity to become one is open to anybody, including you. Every day you choose to be a part of the system, you are consciously choosing to keep playing checkers. Maybe you enjoy that – in which case the entrepreneurial lifestyle is not for you regardless. You are choosing not to innovate and advance the world. As a result, 99% of the world lives comfortably in mediocrity, and few take on the task to change it.

I seek out those willing to accept the challenge. I want to work alongside them and bring my expertise to the table in helping them manifest their vision. I’ve been retained to consult and advise intelligent, industrious and successful entrepreneurs in various industries from Boston to California. I can recognize potential immediately. The question remains whether you can recognize that same potential in yourself.Stop wasting time, and put your ideas in motion. Consultants, lawyers and professionals of all sorts are on standby to determine the viability of your innovations and to help you manifest them. If you don’t have any ideas, use your brain to create them.

I guarantee you will be surprised at the results.