One of the keys to Donald Trump’s appeal to large numbers of Americans is that they believe him when he tells them he is a huge success. They believe that he has accomplished great things in this life and that he can figure things out if he becomes president because he’s pretty savvy. He has effectively delivered the message, “What I say doesn’t matter; vote for me and I’ll get it all worked out when I get in there.”
This reminds me of the Great Man Theory – a popular 19th century idea about leadership that great men were born with certain gifts or characteristics (intelligence, power, charisma) that allowed them to do great things in history. Whether or not Trump is a great man is up for significant debate and is no minor detail, and I could also argue that picking a president based on how successful you think the person is in business isn’t necessarily a good idea. Nevertheless, in thinking about Trump and why he has appealed to so many people, I was reminded that entrepreneurs, to a certain extent, have to buy into the Great Man Theory and believe that they have something that other people simply don’t have in order to succeed.
People who don’t think this way may not understand it, but as an entrepreneur, it’s clear to me that you really must have this confident attitude to start a business. Most of the times when you start a business, you haven’t proven anything, and you really have a bunch of nothing. You start the business, and then you figure out how you’re going to do it, working out the details as you go along. But in order to be able to do this, you’ve got to first and foremost believe in yourself. Venturing into the world of entrepreneurship requires confidence that borders on stubbornness, because there may be many people around you questioning whether you can succeed or discouraging you from trying.
You have to believe in what you’re starting and you have to believe that you can succeed. Even if your business has a great product or “a better mousetrap” as they say, so many things can go wrong when you’re starting a business that you have to have tremendous self-confidence in order to be successful. You have to believe, “Hey, I can work this out.”
You also have to be able to get people to believe in you. You may need their help with financing or need them to buy a product or a service from you, or you may need them for any number of things. Getting them to believe in you will be tough if you don’t believe in yourself, or if you don’t truly believe you can make your business a success. You need to have a singularity of focus and a drive that doesn’t allow your success to be easily derailed by other people.
Some entrepreneurs show their ego (Donald Trump) more than others (Bill Gates), but it’s clear that having confidence in your own ability to figure things out and make your business work is a trait that entrepreneurs must have.
Now, is it a good idea to vote for Trump because he has tremendous self-confidence? I’ll let you decide for yourself on Nov. 8.