12 Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

By examining the five phases or levels of entrepreneurship, we gain a better understanding of the fundamentals that distinguish ordinary entrepreneurs from the extraordinary ones. In doing so, we begin to notice certain traits that are common to all successful entrepreneurs. While each individual entrepreneur posses many unique traits that are not common to other entrepreneurs, all entrepreneurs do share a kindred spirit. Some say a certain type of constitution and outlook, coupled with a special drive and willingness to learn and grow. Rather than elaborating on the many differences within this broadly diverse demographic, it is more helpful to look at those aspects of similarity.

Here are 12 characteristics that are found within all successful entrepreneurs. Without these traits, most people will fall short of what it takes to succeed in an entrepreneurial enterprise.

#1) Confidence

Confidence is a hallmark of the entrepreneur. Not all of us are born with confidence, but that does not mean we are not capable of acquiring it. Many confident women and men gain a sense of self-esteem and faith in their ability to meet challenges by acting in the face of adversity, even if they are unsure of themselves. When they meet these challenges, this feeds back into their confidence in themselves, pushing them to meet bigger challenges in the future.

#2) Possession of a Sense of Ownership

Taking responsibility for getting things done, and doing them with care and attention, is what it means to be an owner. Rather than viewing a problem as someone else’s, the entrepreneur sees it as his or her own and takes pride in finding a solution. They leave things in better shape than they find them, and always look for ways to improve upon situations rather than leaving them unattended. While a sense of ownership makes for a stellar employee, the entrepreneur knows that the goal is not to be burdened by too much responsibility. Rather than controlling situations in an attempt to possess them, the entrepreneur teaches other people how to take charge. This way, the entrepreneur uses individual accountability in the ultimate pursuit of profitability, teamwork, and overall success.

#3) The Ability to Communicate

Entrepreneurs recognise that the most important part of any business is the human element. Human resources, whether in the form of clients, employees or strategic partners, are what makes or breaks a business, and communication is the key to successful relationships with people. The entrepreneur works to hone communication skills, whether those are written, spoken, or non-verbal messages conveyed through body language. And to support communication, he or she will take advantage of all every tools and resource at their disposal. These resources might include foreign language or public speaking classes, entrepreneur workshops, search engine optimisation, or specialised writing skills needed for grants, business proposals, mission statements, or policy manuals. Above all, the entrepreneur develops a keen ability to listen and hear what others are trying to say, because the best communicators got that way by first being the best listeners.

#4) Passion for Learning

Entrepreneurs are often “autodidactic” learners, which means that much of what they know, they learned not in a formal classroom setting, but instead on their own by seeking out information, asking questions, and doing personal reading
and research. They also are quick to learn from their own mistakes, which means they are less prone to keep repeating them due to arrogance, ego, or a blindness to one’s own faults, shortcomings, or errors in judgement. To teach is to learn. And to lead, train, and impart experience to others, the entrepreneur is constantly striving to learn more and get better educated. Because of the passion for education, true entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who either know more than they do, or know things that are different from what they know. They entertain the views of others and perspectives that may be unlike their own. In this way, they continue to enrich themselves with knowledge while also making a concerted effort to grow that knowledge by sharing it with others.

#5) Team Player

Those who go into business for themselves but do not utilise teamwork end up without a team, but still have all the work to get done. They shoulder the whole burden for themselves, and end up just trading their old job for a new and more demanding one in an attempt to be self-employed. The difference is, the new venture carries greater personal and financial risks. On the other hand, team players know how to succeed by employing the twig strategies of interpersonal synergy and dynamic relationships. One twig can be easily snapped, but a bundle of those small twigs becomes stronger than the sum of its individual parts and can be impossible to bend, much less break. The same goes for businesses; successful entrepreneurs leverage teamwork to get the heavy lifting done without breaking stride.

#6) System-Oriented

Like well-organised cookbooks, good systems allow us to reproduce great results every time, but with less and less exertion of energy or resources. Entrepreneurs rely upon systems before they rely upon people, and they look for system-based solutions before searching for human resource solutions. If the person gets the job done but falls sick or leaves, the job is threatened. But if a system is created to get the job done, anyone can step in and follow the blueprint to get the desired result. Similarly, when troubleshooting and problem solving, the entrepreneur will first examine and study the system, because a flaw in the system will produce a flawed outcome each and every time. Designing, implementing, and perfecting systems is one of the most useful and rewarding skills of an entrepreneur.

#7) Dedication

Entrepreneurs dedicate themselves to the fulfilment of their plans, visions, and dreams, and that tenacity of purpose resonates throughout the whole organisation. One of the biggest reasons that companies fail is because they lose focus. Target
a goal, clarify the objective, refine the brand, and narrow the margin of error. Regardless of what the effort might involve, an entrepreneur brings a single-minded dedication to the task. They are committed to a positive outcome and ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

#8) Gratitude

Being grateful for what we have opens us up to receive more, and one reason that is true is because those who are grateful appreciate what they are given. They respect it and nurture it. They do their best to make it grow instead of allowing it to dwindle away due to neglect. Entrepreneurs learn to take nothing for granted in this world. That gives them the agility and flexibility to adapt to changes and demands, while it also investing in them a thankfulness that reminds them that riches and wealth are not about “stuff ”. They are about fulfilment, satisfaction, and the pleasure that comes from one’s accomplishments and contributions.

#9) Optimism

A positive outlook is essential for the entrepreneur. They learn to see setbacks as bargain-priced tuition for the valuable business lessons gained through firsthand experience. Past shortcomings, failures, or disappointments are relegated to the past so that they cannot continue to haunt the present or obstruct the future. And when things go right and business prospers, this further fuels the optimism and positive mindset of an entrepreneur. Then fuelling momentum for greater accomplishments in the future.

#10) Gregariousness

Because business is all about people, entrepreneurs tend to be socially outgoing. They get excited about sharing ideas, products, and services, and that excitement is contagious. Their employees, clients, friends, and other contacts start to share the excitement. Women and men who work hard also relish the unique opportunity to have fun doing something that they love primarily. Human resource experts, career counsellors, and business psychologists all agree that those who do jobs they enjoy have higher rates of success and broader measures of satisfaction. Entrepreneurs know that firsthand from their own experience. They tend to be a fun-loving group of people both on and off the job.

#11) Leads by Example

Entrepreneurs not only lead themselves through self-motivation, but they are also skilled at leading others. They know the importance of teamwork, and they understand the need to appreciate others, support them, and reward them accordingly. True leaders do not become indispensable, otherwise things fall apart in their absence, and they can never rise to the highest level of entrepreneurial freedom and prosperity. Neither do they squander the potential of those working under their guidance. As renowned business consultant and retired United States Air Force Major General Perry M. Smith once wrote, “Leaders who share their power and their time can accomplish extraordinary things. The best leaders understand that leadership is the liberation of talent; hence they gain power not only by constantly giving it away, but also by not grabbing it back.”

#12) Unafraid of Risk or Success

Many people could be successful if they took more chances. Of those who do take chances and become somewhat successful, they find the realisation of their dreams an overwhelming possibility. This means they sabotage their continued success by retreating back into a comfort zone of smallness. As discussed earlier, the employee mindset is preoccupied with a need for security. Those who cling to what is familiar to them – even if it means the denial of their dreams – lack the perseverance and ambition that the real entrepreneur exhibits. Entrepreneurs are not immune to fear. They prioritise their approach to life. Their fear of failure, frustration, boredom, drudgery, and dissatisfaction far outweighs the lingering fear of success.

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