Entrepreneurs – Top 10 Essential Entrepreneurial Traits

Are you intrigued by the possibility of being your own boss and starting a business but not sure you have the right qualifications to be an entrepreneur? What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur? Although there is no single perfect entrepreneurial profile, there are many characteristics that show up repeatedly in successful business owners.

Following are the top 10 essential entrepreneurial traits that anyone who is interested in starting a business must possess:

    (1) Independence – This is the most common denominator of all entrepreneurs. They want to seize control of their future; thus they decide to become their own boss instead of laboring under the gaze of a master.

    (2) Persistence and Determination – The world of entrepreneurship is fraught with both success and failure. An important quality of a successful entrepreneur is the doggedness to continue pursuing a goal despite some setbacks and obstacles they may encounter on the road. This persistence and determination is fueled by a burning desire to achieve the goal of succeeding in the chosen field of business.

    (3) Self-Confidence – Along with independence, an entrepreneur possesses self-confidence. They believe in their capabilities and makes sure that they will put in their best effort into their particular endeavors and likewise expect the best results from it. Belief in one’s capabilities is very important in achieving any goal – especially in the world of entrepreneurship.

    (4) Creativity – In the business world, you can not afford to be complacent and uncreative unless you want the competition to move up on ahead of you. Creative people are naturally curious, inquisitive, bright and highly flexible when thinking. They keenly observe their environment and have an eye for spotting new trends that could spark a business opportunity.

    (5) Organized and goal-oriented – An entrepreneur knows the value of organization in a business endeavor. A good entrepreneur has the ability to consolidate resources.

    (6) Visionary – An entrepreneur has a vision for his/her future.

    (7) Risk-taking and Tolerance for Failure – A good entrepreneur realizes that loss and failure are inherent in any business endeavor. Thus, an entrepreneur must always be ready to make calculated risks and face whatever consequences accompany those risks. As in all fields of endeavor, the characteristic of a successful entrepreneur is in never giving up and in picking up the pieces and continuing the journey even if failure momentarily obstructs the way.

    (8) Perseverance and Hard Work – These are perhaps two of the most important entrepreneurial traits.

    (9) Commitment – An entrepreneur will not achieve success if he/she gives up at the first sign of trouble.

    (10) Honesty and Honor – Another very important mark of a good entrepreneur is being honest and honorable in all business dealings and interpersonal relationships – whether it is between business partners, employees, peers or investors.

If you possess these traits, you may have the necessary skill set to become a successful entrepreneur.

Three Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make At The Outset

Many entrepreneurs make three crucial mistakes at the outset. They do not pay sufficient attention to customers’ preferences; they ignore their competition because their product thrill them, and third, they neglect to follow their business strategy. Indeed, some have no strategy. Typically, they make these three errors because they succumb to the pressure to make a quick return on borrowed funds.

In the January 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) Roger Martin identifies rules to prevent common mistakes when developing a strategy. He states in this article, The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, that the first rule is “keep the strategy statement simple.” Instead of a long, often vague document, the company or entrepreneur’s strategy should summarize the chosen target customers and the value proposition in one page.

Crafting the strategy needs time and thought, so the owner must be patient and learn to filter the many unsolicited voices telling her how she can make money quickly. I cannot state enough how crucial it is to develop a simple strategy for the startup. This simple strategy will be the guide to carrying out the owner’s mission or purpose for doing business.

Harvard professor and author Michael Porter, says strategy must be unique. He goes on to mention that strategy:

  • by consensus is bad strategy
  • is not compromise; it’s clarity
  • is about choices
  • needs a set of uniqueness to help to differentiate you from the competition

Porter then adds that less than 25% of companies have a clear strategy.

Strategy doesn’t have to be embedded in many pages, it can and should be plain and simple.

In his 1985 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the late management guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) said entrepreneurs create something new, something different and have unique characteristics. He said McDonald’s exemplified entrepreneurship; “they didn’t invent anything any decent American restaurant hadn’t produced hamburgers for years.” Drucker continued, McDonald’s asked:


What is value to the customer?” Then they standardized the product, designed processes, and tools, drastically upgraded yields, and created a new market and a new customer.

Drucker said McDonald’s carried out entrepreneurship. Whether the entrepreneur is an existing large institution, or an individual starting her business single-handedly, the same entrepreneurship’s principles apply. “The rules are pretty much the same, the things that work and those that don’t are pretty much the same, and so are the kinds of innovation and where to look for them.”

The start-up owner often does not spend enough time finding out the value to the customer of her product or service. Neither does she spend adequate time developing and testing her strategy. Instead, she focuses on making a fast buck. That’s why it’s crucial the owner does the following:

  1. Spends time understanding who are the customers
  2. Identifies needs and wants, real and perceived, and target markets
  3. Decides how to fulfill those needs consistently and at a high standard
  4. Be patient and focus on the long-term. Research shows that family owned businesses are more successful than non family owned businesses because the former take a long view when making decisions.

Other things owners are doing wrong include:

  • Listening to too many people with divergent views about the business
  • Trying to “save” money by not getting needed resources to produce consistently high-quality goods and services
  • Not taking enough time to raise adequate funds in the “proper” form. Often, they take loans from family and friends without stating clearly risks involved and repayment terms.

Starting a business is risky but rewarding, and needs patience and courage. However, heeding the above advice will increase the probability of success significantly.