Blog Post

9 Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur

soaringBuilding a business is no easy feat, but certain traits can help you on the path to success.

  1. Be goal-oriented, accountable and disciplined. Knowing where you’re going is the first step to achieving your dreams, and a clear vision and plan will help you reach them. Even as conditions change in and around your business, always have a target that directs your daily actions and take consistent and regular steps toward actually reaching it. Have people and tools in place to keep you on track, whether that’s regular check-ins with an accountability partner or weekly reviews to see where you stand, and remember that, at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. No matter what your schedule or approach, you must be disciplined and steadily move in the direction of your goals.
  2. Be adaptable, resilient and determined. Change is inevitable, and there will be plenty of times when you’ll need to correct course and modify your plans so that your business isn’t left behind. Be ready and willing to accommodate changes in the marketplace and be careful not be so rigid that you miss opportunities for growth and improvement. In addition to being adaptable, it’s important to be OK with failure. “Fall seven times, get up eight,” as the proverb goes. Mistakes and failure come with the territory of being a successful entrepreneur, and if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not putting yourself out there enough. Being in business for yourself will push you to the breaking point sometimes, so you’ll have to be determined and remind yourself how far you’ve come. Find support through other entrepreneurs and small business owners who can help you through difficult times and challenges. It takes a great deal of commitment and dedication to see a business to success, but if you stick with it, you will eventually get there.
  3. Be creative and open-minded. Solving problems, promoting your businesses, and expanding into new markets will require a good dose of creativity and imagination. Without it, every setback and obstacle will seem insurmountable. Look for possibility everywhere. Think of how other industries deal with issues you are facing and find ways to adapt those solutions to work for your business. Stay flexible, make room for a variety of possibilities, and believe that there’s always a way.
  4. Be confident and optimistic. You’ll come across plenty of naysayers along your way to success, so it’s important to become very selective with your hearing and about whose advice you seek. Find mentors and other big thinkers who you can call on for inspiration and advice, and most importantly, believe in yourself and your abilities.
  5. Be persistent. There will be plenty of times when you just have to stick with an idea long enough for it to take hold. It takes patience and a whole lot of the same thing over and over to finally make progress.
  6. Be an avid learner. So much can be learned from the experience of others, and fortunately, there are thousands of books out there from entrepreneurs who have achieved success, many available for free at your local library or inexpensively through book-trading sites like PaperBackSwap. One new book every two weeks is over two dozen by the end of a year!
  7. Be ambitious and driven. Without motivation, it will take a lot to justify the hard work and time required to get a business off the ground. No one should care more about your success than you, and if you’re not driven to achieve your goals, every obstacle will provide the perfect opportunity to quit.
  8. Be a self-starter. Neither your mom, your teacher, nor your boss will be there to make sure you show up and do the work for your business, so you have to be self-starting, making sure that you have regular, dedicated time to move the big rocks each day.
  9. Be passionate. Above all, you should be passionate about your work. It’s a choice to go into business, so why not choose something you love to do? There’s no reason to dread starting a new day, so find something you’re passionate about and build your business and life around it.

What other qualities do you think successful entrepreneurs must possess in order to build a thriving business? How are you learning to encompass those traits?

Image from Flickr by Hamed Saber

18 Responses to “9 Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur”

  1. Great post and comments.

    I would also add the followin one: the “ability to inspire and hire the right people”. Great entrepreneurs need to attract and retain good people. You can’t do it alone and it would not be as fun even if you could.

    Early employees are especially key to your success as they, percentage wise, represent a larger part of your team/resources.

  2. Terrific post. I would add “action oriented”. It’s so easy to loose focus at the startup phase. As much being open minded is paramount, you have to be ready to go thru a series of iterations with your concepts. That means constantly goign over a “feedback->think->decide->act upon it” process.

  3. This came along at just the right time, thank you. I was feeling a bit dejected today, but your list perked me up.

    Can I add one too?

    Don’t take criticism personally. If you don’t get defensive each time someone gives you feedback, you have the opportunity to learn and grow from their advice.

  4. I’d like to add one. Don’t waste too much of your time raising money, and don’t give up too much equity thinking you NEED money.

    Those who constantly talk of raising money are not true entrepreneurs. We were in that mindset for a while, then we had a meeting with Charles Wang (of CA fame), who sat down with us, asked about our valuation, chucked, and said “I’m not giving you money, just do it!”

    3 years later we have 3 services and broke even. That was truly advice from one entrepreneur to another.

    • Amber Riviere

      Great point! I agree and was just talking with another entrepreneur about this a few days ago. In the book “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent,” they talk about leading with revenue – playing red light, green light with money, and I agree with you that, in most cases, it’s possible to get off the ground without it.