- The act of starting your own business is a challenge in and of itself, and those who pursue entrepreneurship are courageous.
- Entrepreneurship involves continuous risk-taking, which comes easy to someone who is optimistic.
- Consistency is important, but it is just as important to recognize when something isn’t working, and when it is time to make a change.
Some may argue that successful entrepreneurs have a certain je ne sais quoi and you are born with special qualities; that entrepreneurship comes naturally and can’t be learned nor developed.
This is simply not true! You can develop the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs with time, training, and practice. By studying major players and successful entrepreneurs, we can see that they all share 10 specific characteristics, regardless of the industry they are in.
Starting a business and being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart.
There are essential characteristics entrepreneurs have that put them on the pathway of success.
By examining these characteristics, we can foster these same qualities and become more successful. Here’s what successful entrepreneurs have in common starting a business:
1. They are decisive.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t sit on big decisions, spending days mulling them over and asking for everyone’s opinion. They act! They make decisions quickly and stand by them. Whether you are a leader of a large corporation or your own business, you need to be decisive. A study published by Harvard Business Review found that what sets successful leaders apart from the rest is the speed and conviction in which they make decisions. This doesn’t mean they are right 100% of the time. Sometimes the result of a decision may have less than desirable results, and that’s okay! A successful entrepreneur will be able to evaluate the situation and make a decision on how to move forward. Indecisiveness and procrastination can go hand-in-hand and delay important decisions and work, negatively affecting a leader’s reputation. Decisiveness increases authority and respect as a leader.
2. They take risks and aren’t afraid of a challenge.
Entrepreneurship is a risk on its own. The act of starting your own business is a challenge in and of itself, and those who pursue entrepreneurship are courageous. Jeff Sloan, CEO of Startup Nation and author of Startup Nation: Open for Business, knows what sets successful entrepreneurs apart. His business is focused on entrepreneurs like him who “become stronger when faced with a challenge, and see it as their obligation to courageously pursue a better way, no matter the odds.” Successful entrepreneurs know that failure means growth, and risks often create the biggest opportunities. All entrepreneurs have experienced failure at some point, but they keep going and don’t let that stop them. They adapt, learn, and carry on. They understand that with great risk comes great reward.
3. They network with like-minded individuals.
Making an effort to meet new people is something all successful entrepreneurs do and do well! There is a lot of opportunity in building connections and relationships. When you have friends in different industries, there is a good chance they could one day help your business or help someone else in your network. Each networking interaction and relationship isn’t simply about gaining new clients or increasing sales. Establishing relationships with like-minded individuals can encourage you and provide advice when you are faced with a challenge. By developing a strong network, you can attain goals you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own. Sometimes it’s all in who you know, and when you have a large network, you become connected to opportunities and people that will put you in a promising position.
4. They are optimistic.
Optimistic people have a positive view of the world and their future. If you only see the negative and constantly assume that things will go wrong, that business decisions will fail, and that your business will crumble – you will not succeed! When you have an attitude like that, you won’t take the necessary risks and pursue new opportunities for growth. Successful entrepreneurs are the “glass half full” type of people. Entrepreneurship involves continuous risk-taking, which comes easy to someone who is optimistic. They have big goals and believe they can achieve them. This optimistic approach helps them overcome challenges and look towards the future. It encourages action, creativity, persistence, and resiliency. Research has shown that those who are optimistic are more creative, coming up with novel ideas, products, and services and therefore have a better chance at success.
5. They are flexible and pivot when needed.
Unexpected events and challenges are bound to come up – what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest is how these challenges are handled. Consistency is important, but it is just as important to recognize when something isn’t working, and when it is time to make a change. Flexibility allows entrepreneurs to ride the waves of entrepreneurship, go with the ups and downs, and steer the business in the right way for lasting success. They are strong enough to move with the tide without being swept away. There are different types of flexibility – financial flexibility, emotional flexibility, future flexibility, and time flexibility. Individuals who are flexible, aren’t afraid of failure, are better at problem-solving, wear many hats, and have a robust set of skills and experience.
6. They are resourceful.
There’s a great quote from entrepreneur and best-selling author Tony Robbins that says, “It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” Most successful entrepreneurs come from humble beginnings – they don’t start with a ton of money gifted from their parents and a long list of connections. Instead, they are resourceful, using what they have and know to create their business. Perhaps they didn’t get the funding they applied for, or there was a significant shipping problem – they don’t give up. Instead, they assess and use the resources they do have and do so effectively. Resourcefulness is really about self-control and belief in one’s own abilities. In addition to tapping into their own resources, successful entrepreneurs know when to use social resourcefulness and seek out help from connections. The “there’s always a way” mentality is a must for successful entrepreneurs.
7. They are persistent.
Successful entrepreneurs set big goals, and they are persistent in their pursuit of success. As an entrepreneur grows their business, they will encounter very challenging situations. Deep-rooted persistence helps them push through challenging times and keep going after their dreams. Successful entrepreneurs live by the motto when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Persistence can be the determining factor between your business’s success or failure. A fascinating study was conducted by Harvard. They found that the risk of business failure decreases with each setback. After a first-time entrepreneur experiences their first setback and they continue on, there is an 18% chance of success. With a proceeding setback, the chance of success increases by an additional 20%. Successful entrepreneurs continue to push toward the finish line even when it seems out of reach.
8. They have a vision and set goals.
Successful entrepreneurs always have their eye on the prize – the success of their business! Visions are like strategic planning and will help guide decisions. Their goals are their driving force and what their company values are centered on. If you were to ask a successful entrepreneur what their business would look like next year, in the next five, ten, and twenty years, they would be able to tell you. In addition to setting goals for their business, they also set personal objectives and have members of their team set objectives as well. This is a quantifiable way to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, which will tell them where they need to refocus strategy and efforts. Just think of the visions Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos had!
9. They invest in themselves.
Regardless of industry, successful entrepreneurs invest in themselves. With a growth mindset, they are constantly trying to improve their skills and knowledge. They realize the importance of investing in themselves, whether that is with a personal coach, training program, or well-deserved R&R. They also “pay themselves first,” which means they make sure their bills are paid and manage their personal finances. They understand that with personal success, they are more likely to experience business success.
10. They are passionate about their business and industry.
Passion is what will fuels their business. Successful entrepreneurs love what they do! Although they may not enjoy every aspect, overall, they love the business they are creating. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t creating a business for fame and money; they love the act of creating the business and the difference it will make. Entrepreneurial passion will help them devote their time, efforts, and resources to building a business. Further, it will help differentiate them from other businesses. Clients and customers can tell when the founder of a business is passionate about what they do. It’s obvious in their communications, product, and customer service.
By understanding these characteristics, you can become a better, more successful entrepreneur. These 10 characteristics encompass the infamous entrepreneurial spirit, and by developing these qualities, you, too, can become a successful entrepreneur.