What Role Does Ego Play in Entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs need a very healthy ego to succeed. Many might be self-effacing and humble, but there still has to be a deep-seeded, positive sense of self and ego. Some might call it drive. That’s part of it. Courage and belief in one’s own abilities is also important. Natural leadership qualities and a desire to lead are driven by ego.

Ego is important. Without a healthy ego entrepreneurs don’t have the necessary internal reserves to survive the daily rigors of startup life.

But I’m generally not attracted to huge egos without the parallel humbleness that should come with it and the recognition that any real success involves multiple factors. It’s very rare that one person can take all the credit (or all the blame!) When a successful person openly recognizes that other factors impacted their success — luck, for example – I know that person has a healthy ego, the kind of ego that helped drive that person to succeed without putting them over the edge.

Those are the types of people I want to work with. People who believe they’ll be successful no matter what, but don’t have to flaunt that on a regular basis. And when they are successful, they recognize it wasn’t exclusively of their own doing. And when they’re not successful, they accept that and move on.

Far too often, egos get in the way of success. It gets ugly. It gets personal. That’s when ego is at its worse; “he said, she said” or “BSDs” that can’t work together (if you want to know what that acronym means, just ask.) Egos at that level need to be put aside for the greater good.

You either believe you can be hugely successful or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to look inside yourself and figure out why. It might just be there, a tiny spark of ego just waiting to explode. If you do believe you can be hugely successful, that’s great, you’ve got the makings of an entrepreneur. But don’t get caught in your own ego. Don’t get overwhelmed by your “greatness”. Use that inherent quality of ego (which too few people truly possess) and leverage it.

July 22, 2010 Posted in Personal Development by

  • http://heri.madmedia.ca Heri

    Good point. I agree with it, although I don't call it ego, I call it drive. As you pointed out, ego might be misinterpreted. Drive for me is when you are compelled to make something work and make it big, no matter what (well, within reasonable and legal limits of course)

    If you don't have it, you could be the most talented person in the world but still content with a repetitive 9 to 5 job and content on making things “good enough”, without achieving your full potential

  • http://twitter.com/MaxFinder Max Finder

    Back seat driver?

  • http://shearinglayers.com Nick

    “Those are the types of people I want to work with” — me too. Absolutely.

    They're the kind of people who look in the mirror to understand set backs, and out the window (to others) to give credit for success. I'm sure I got that from Jim Collins' Good to Great.

    Do you think everybody has the potential?

  • http://twitter.com/indblog I Need Discipline

    I think it plays an incredibly important part. Maybe it is me just being biter but pretty much every successful entrepreneur I have been introduced to has had a massive ego that makes them come over as obnoxious.

  • http://www.website-help-from-ebooks.com Jared Carrizales

    As far as online entrepreneurship goes I think that ego and drive are totally different things.

    For instance, every blogger has a certain amount of ego. What other hobby and/or profession basis it's entire startup on the fact that people want to read what the person has to say?

    On the flip side, not every blogger succeeds either. This is where the drive and determination comes into play.

    A great combination of the two is what's needed for a blogger, or any online entrepreneur to be successful.

  • Daisyfreya

    I think ego is much but at a limit so that you are not like a stone in every one’s eye.Keep ego at a level so that no one can abuse u.

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    Good Thought. I agree with it that ego is important for industrialists to succeed. But courage and belief in one’s own abilities is also important to become a successful industrialist.

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Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at GoInstant (acq. by Salesforce).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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