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The Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

by Olufisayo
The Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

What kind of person becomes a successful entrepreneur and what characteristics must a successful entrepreneur have? Are we all born with these entrepreneurial traits or can they be learned?

This post discusses the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. These are traits that entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, psychologists, and academics believe to be important to achieve entrepreneurial success.

It is highly unlikely that any person is exceptionally strong or weak in all of these categories. They are a guide only. As you read through the post, think of how these characteristics relate to your life.

Continuous Goal Setting

Ability to set clear goals that are challenging but attainable; ability to continually re-evaluate and adjust goals to make sure they are consistent with your interests, talents, and values, as well as your personal or business needs. Rather than being content with reaching goals, successful entrepreneurs continue setting new goals to challenge themselves.


Successful entrepreneurs are steadfast in pursuit of an aim; constant persistence; continuing to strive for a goal despite temporary obstacles; strong determination to reach goals regardless of personal sacrifice.

Business knowledge

The entrepreneur must understand the basic principles by which a business survives and prospers. That means comprehending the roles management, partners, and employees must perform to maintain a viable business.

Although the entrepreneur must be in control of overall goals, he or she can’t perform each task without help. Awareness of the function of personnel in marketing, accounting, tax, financing, planning, and management, and how to deal with them, is therefore required.

If a prospective entrepreneur is bored or baffled by the administrative side of the business, he or she is not likely to be successful. An alternative is to find a trusted partner who has the aptitudes described.

Dealing with failure

Disappointed but not discouraged by failure; ability to use failures as learning experiences so that similar problems can be avoided in the future; an attitude that setbacks are only temporary barriers to your goals; strong capacity to build on successes.


The belief that you control your success or failure, and that it is not decided by luck, circumstance, or external events; belief in self-determined destinies and that you have the ability to achieve the goals you have set.

Moderate risk-taking

Ability to identify risks and weigh their relative dangers; preference for taking calculated risks to achieve goals that are high but realistic. Risks are moderate, contrary to the stereotype that entrepreneurs are gamblers or high-risk-takers.

Persistent problem-solving

Ability to resolve problems effectively and resourcefully; determination to look at problems as challenges; capacity to deal repeatedly with a multitude of such challenges, showing willingness and tenacity. Desire to pay attention to detail and obtain all the information required to test solutions so the best one is attained.


Self-reliant nature; desire and willingness to initiate action without needing or taking direction from others; ability to solve problems, fill a vacuum, or lead others when the need exists; attracted to situations where your impact on problems can be measured.

Entrepreneurs perceive themselves as strong, capable, and in control, which allows them to be innovative and creative in expressing their ideas; entrepreneurs are active individuals who want to work on their idea immediately so that they can see results at once.

Drive and energy level

A high level of stamina is important to meet the intense demands of running a business; the ability to work hard for long hours with less sleep than normal is essential; prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to reach objectives successfully; single-mindedness until your goal is reached.

Willingness to consult experts

Desire to seek the assistance of others when it is required to accomplish your goals; entrepreneurs often work alone and can become so independent that they request help from no one; successful entrepreneurs avoid that trap.

Physical health

Staying healthy is essential to the intense demands and ongoing pressures of your own business, especially during its early years.

If you are ill, there might not be anyone to take over the business. Even if there is a plan for a temporary manager, that person is unlikely to be as committed or knowledgeable as you. In either case, the effect on the business could be disastrous.

Also, remember that there is no paid sick leave for the owner-manager of a business.

Mental and emotional health

The long hours and pressures of business demand your emotional well-being. The success of a business may be determined by whether or not your spouse, family, and friends can pull together and provide emotional support and understanding.

If your marriage is shaky, or If you are emotionally isolated and unhappy, the extra strain can be intolerable. Any kind of emotional strain that affects the owner-manager’s capacity for calm and objective thinking is going to affect the business.

Tolerance of uncertainty

Ability to live with the uncertainty of job security; the entrepreneur must face many crises, take risks, and allow for temporary failures without panic; successful entrepreneurs accept uncertainty as an integral part of being in business.

Using feedback

The skill to seek and use feedback on personal performance and goals for the business; the skill to take any remedial action required; feedback is requested from employees, the management team, and professional advisors.

Competing against self-imposed standards

The tendency to establish realistic standards of performance and to compete with yourself to meet those objectives; a competitive nature naturally manifests itself by competing with others, but the criteria for performance level is internal.

Seeking personal responsibility

Wanting control or accepting authority, and therefore being personally responsible for the outcome of events; must genuinely enjoy the challenge of authority; understand and accept personal responsibility.


Strong but realistic belief in yourself and your ability to achieve personal or business goals. Successful entrepreneurs have an enduring faith in themselves that gives them the capacity to recover from a serious defeat or disappointment.


Capable of dealing effectively with many subjects or tasks at the same time; qualified to assume different roles and switch back and forth as required.

During the early stages of the business, the entrepreneur will assume numerous and diverse business responsibilities, including marketing, sales, credit and collection, finances, employee selection, accounting, planning, and negotiating.

Desire for independence

Genuine desire to be your own boss, free from external direction and control; a sincere willingness and proven ability to be self-disciplined in sometimes isolated working conditions; ability to organize activities to reach personal goals.

Successful entrepreneurs aren’t usually joiners by nature; they may join only to network to make business contacts, further their ventures, obtain useful information to solve problems. Studies have shown that reliance on social interaction and friendship inhibits entrepreneurial behavior.


Strong sense of self-worth; content to be yourself; good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses; constructively attempt to overcome weak points.


Dedication to the goal without being. distracted or deterred; goal modification may take place, but the ultimate objective is maintained.


Ability and desire to discover new methods, including new ways of managing the business to be more effective, original ways of marketing the product, or creative ways of improving it. A resourceful approach, constantly improving and changing is characteristic of successful entrepreneurs.

Long-term perspective

Comprehension of the long-term goal so that each step of the business plan can be seen in context. This attitude makes the short-and medium-term goals clear and easy to attain. The successful entrepreneur can, therefore, tolerate substantial frustration and delay by focusing on long-term objectives.

Positive outlook

You will need to be an optimist to survive the false starts, near-failures, and disappointments that every entrepreneur faces; you have to be an objective, pragmatic realist, but must believe that goals can and will be attained.

The technical and industrial knowledge

Comprehensive understanding of the industry and products or services that the business depends on directly; access to resource people with additional knowledge. Anyone who starts a business in an area that is foreign to him or her is risking failure.

Human relations

Ability to understand and interact well with people of varying personalities and values. This is important when dealing with employees, bankers, investors, partners, suppliers, or customers and is reflected in characteristics such as sociability, consideration, cheerfulness, cooperation, and tact.

Access to financial resources

Ability to obtain funding when needed; awareness of all the funds that might be available and how to obtain them.

Desire for money

Respect for money and learning how to deal with it wisely; an ongoing awareness of the factors that influence profitability in each part of the business so cash flow can be monitored and prudent decisions made based on risk and profit potential; an understanding of financial and accounting methods.

Thinking ability

Includes original, creative, critical, and analytical thinking; an entrepreneur should have a curious mind and strive to think effectively. A capacity for problem-solving, especially under pressure, is particularly important.

Selling ability

Ability to convince others of the value of the product or service offered; particularly important when talking to bank managers, customers, or salespeople or in any form of business negotiation; personal belief in the value of the product or service is prerequisite.

Ability to communicate

Must be able to use words effectively, both verbally and in writing, and be able to explain concepts in a way that can be easily understood; ability to present proposals clearly to influence bankers or investors to supply money, to enable employees to understand the exact nature of their job and the results you expect and to encourage customers to buy.


The will to act on your convictions despite obstacles or personal costs. Successful entrepreneurs frequently give up their jobs to embark on a new venture. Deciding to risk the unknown, at the expense of the security of a regular salary and benefits such as health insurance, pension plans, profit-sharing, and paid vacations takes a lot of courage.

In addition, the prospective entrepreneur frequently has to face friends, family, and spouse who do not always understand or support his or her desire for self-employment, with all its attendant risk and uncertainty, and the commitment of time, energy, and resources.


There is no ideal age for someone starting a business, although having enough life experiences, self-awareness, and self-confidence is important.

It is common for people to wait until family and financial demands, or other considerations are reduced. On the other hand, external circumstances such as a layoff can force a ~decision earlier than originally planned.

Ages 30 to 35 seem to be a time when people consider self-employment. Another significant age bracket is 50 to 55 when your financial situation may have stabilized and children are independent.

Family background

Successful entrepreneurs often have a spouse, parent, or close relative who operates his or her own business; these individuals can provide networking, financial support, as well as understanding, encouragement, and constructive feedback.

Using positive imagery

The ability to fantasize about goals and objectives is a common characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. The unconscious mind can then be influenced to accept the picture as a reality waiting to happen, which provides motivation and a sense of direction.

Sense of purpose

A feeling of mission motivates the entrepreneur to go into business; the entrepreneurial activity has meaning. These factors may be the desire to make an attractive profit, the desire to sell some necessary and unique product or service, or the desire to develop your ideas or skills without the constraints of others’ expectations.


Ability to distinguish between yourself and the business, so when you make a mistake you have the strength to admit it and take corrective action; a desire to deal with issues and decisions rationally and logically rather than emotionally.


Desire to take on challenges and test your abilities to the limit. Successful entrepreneurs are not ambivalent about success.

They concentrate on ways to succeed, not what will happen if they fail. Because they are objective, though, they build a “what if” scenario into the business plan, so that they anticipate problems and develop strategies to surmount obstacles in advance.

Successful entrepreneurs adopt the attitude that if they do a chance on unexpected barriers, they will find resourceful and effective ways to overcome them.


Receptive to change, ability to adjust perceptions goals or action based on an assessment of new information; a rigid, conservative personality is not a trait of a successful entrepreneur.

Desire to create

A strong desire to originate an idea or product, to develop something new, to be innovative, to make something happen, to imprint your personality, dreams, and ideas on a concept in a unique and different way; requires both the powers of observation and imagination to foresee many possible market ideas.

Long-term involvement

Commitment to long-term projects and goals despite considerable personal sacrifice.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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