12 Core Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship has become a buzz word in the 21st century. This is probably as a result of the successes recorded by some great entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates etc. Another possible reason could also be the high rate of unemployment sweeping different countries.  In fact, graduate unemployment in some countries are now as high as 33%.

Because these, most young people decided to turn to a viable plan B – entrepreneurship.

But entrepreneurship is not a child’s play. Success in entrepreneurship is does not come by chance. You have to put in the work to make it. Moreover, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Some people are not just wired for the stress that goes with setting up and managing a business, bearing all the risks that goes with it.

But many people have made a great success of entrepreneurship paying the price and doing all it takes.

Now, it has been proven that certain characteristics are consistent among successful entrepreneurs. So before you join the bandwagon of people going into entrepreneurship you need to check yourself to be sure you are wired for it.

And today, we take a look at the core characteristics that are common in all successful entrepreneurs.

Table of Contents

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

  1. Vision
  2. Passion
  3. Creativity
  4. Discipline
  5. Proper Planning
  6. Risk Taking
  7. Open-mindedness
  8. Staying Power
  9. Determination
  10. Flexibility
  11. Decision-Making
  12. Action Oriented

1. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Vision

Vision is one of the important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
Vision is one of the important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

The first of the characteristics of all successful entrepreneurs is vision.

Yes, it all starts with a vision. Every successful entrepreneur starts by defining clearly where the idea is headed for. In his best selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey stated (precisely in the second habit of that book), that one must begin with the end in mind. And that is vision.

Vision is the ability to see far. It is ability to see beyond where you are standing at the moment.

If one is not very clear on what he wants to achieve it will be difficult to remain on course in the long run. It is vision that helps an entrepreneur attract the necessary team members that will be helpful in building the business. If the business is not clear resourceful people will not be convinced to identify with it.

No wonder in almost every organization you will always see it boldly written – VISION STATEMENT.

2. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Passion

Your passion will determine your success
Your passion will determine your success

What is passion?

Passion is a strong emotion or desire to chase a goal with zeal, enthusiasm and full dose of energy. Passion is all about doing what you enjoy and enjoying what you do. Honestly if you set out as an entrepreneur and you venture into something you are not passionate about, you had better pray the money come fast. Unfortunately, in entrepreneurship, you can’t guarantee how fast the money will come.

But it is passion that keeps you going as an entrepreneur even when results are not typical.

So in entrepreneurship, your work should be your passion. This will help you not just to enjoy what you do, but also to stay highly motivated. It is passion that acts as the driving force to reaching your goal or the vision you set out to achieve.

It is also your passion for the venture you are working on that makes you go the extra mile. Yes, entrepreneurs must and have always gone the extra mile. For example, entrepreneurship is different from the typical 9 – 5. In entrepreneurship, sometimes there is no closing and there is no resumption time. You are required to work extra hours in the office almost every day and also work on weekends.  But I bet you those extra hours can or may make a difference for you.

Note also that at the beginning of every entrepreneurial venture, there are usually challenges. But your passion ensures that you are able to overcome these roadblocks and forge ahead towards your goal.

3. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Creativity

Creativity is key to the success of an entrepreneur
Creativity is key to the success of an entrepreneur

Have you seen any entrepreneur that is not a creative genius? Hardly.

But why is it important that entrepreneurs must be creative?

First, most people have defined entrepreneurship in itself to mean creativity. In other words, it is creativity that gives birth to something new. And without creativity there can be no innovation. And statistically, almost all entrepreneurs have this knack for quickly thinking of new ways of solving different problems.

One facet of creativity is being able to make connections between seemingly unrelated events or situations. Entrepreneurs often come up with solutions which are the synthesis of other items. They will repurpose products to market them to new industries.

Creativity helps in coming up with new solutions for the problems at hand. But it also allows one to think of solutions that are out of the box.

Finally, at the beginning of the venture, especially if you are bootstrapping you don’t have so much resources to execute all you need to do to keep the business running. So being creative will help you to manage the available resources in the most profitable way.

4. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Discipline

Discipline is one of the important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
Discipline is one of the important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

Successful entrepreneurs are focused on making their businesses work. They outline a very clear path to achieving their vision and eliminate every and anything that can be a source of distractions. Entrepreneurs focus on the day-to-day operations of their business without disregarding their long-term goals either.

They are disciplined in the kind of relationship they maintain – they only keep like minds

They are disciplined in the way they manage their time – no time for frivolities

Of course they are disciplined in the way they manage their resources – no provision for any extravagant or irrelevant spending

5. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Proper Planning

Proper Planning is is one of the vital characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
Proper Planning is is one of the vital characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

Another power quality of an entrepreneur is proper planning.

The old cliche “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is still true today. Also true is the 6P Rule (Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance). To stay ahead you must plan ahead.

Planning is about strategizing the whole game ahead of time. It basically sums up all the resources at hand and enables you to come up with a structure and a thought process for how to use it and reach your goal.

The next step involves how to make optimum use of these resources, to weave the cloth of success.Facing a situation or a crisis with a plan is always better. It provides guidelines with minimum to no damage incurred to a business. Planning is one of the most important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

I always recommend that you have plans for each day, plans for each week, plans for the month and plans for every year before stepping into that year. And all of these should be drawn from your 5 years plan.

Hear me, as an entrepreneur just starting out, lack of planning and indiscipline is so expensive that you cannot afford them.

6. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Risk Taking

Risk Taking comes with its reward in entrepreneurship
Risk Taking comes with its reward in entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. But what is life without risk. In fact, someone said that one of the greatest risks in life is not taking risk. So there are many people that are taking risks without knowing it. But entrepreneurs face risks with their full chest. They consciously embrace risk as a necessary tool on their journey.

From the day you resigned you paid job that guarantees you salary at the end of the month is the day you officially signed up in the institution of risk. But the good thing is that entrepreneurs consciously agree to this.

Without the will to explore the unknown, one cannot discover something unique. And this uniqueness might make all the difference in business.

And indeed entrepreneurs risk it in many ways:

  • Using unorthodox methods is also a risk.
  • Investing in ideas, nobody else believes in but you is a risk too.
  • Working longer hours
  • Staying away from family

However, successful entrepreneurs always take calculated risk. As the saying goes you don’t test the depth of a river with two feet. That is what entrepreneurs do. They tend to have some backup plans or mitigating plan for every risk they identify.

7. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Open-mindedness

Entrepreneurs are open to new ideas
Entrepreneurs are open to new ideas

An entrepreneur must be accepting. The true realization of which scenario or event can be a useful opportunity is necessary. To recognize such openings, an open-minded attitude is required.

An entrepreneur should be determined. He should face his losses with a positive attitude and his wins, humbly. Any good businessman will know not to frown on a defeat. Try till you succeed is the right mentality. Failure is a step or a way which didn’t work according to the plan. A good entrepreneur takes the experience of this setback and works even hard with the next goal in line.

This experience is inculcated through the process of accepted learning. Good entrepreneurs know they can learn from every situation and person around them. Information obtained can be used for the process of planning.

Learning with an open mind lets you look at your faults humbly. New information always makes an entrepreneur question his current resolve. It also provides a new perspective towards a particular aspect. Open-mindedness also enables you to know and learn from your competition.

8. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Staying Power

Oh my God. I told you that entrepreneurship is not for the feeble minded ones. In entrepreneurship several failures await you on the way. I don’t know of many entrepreneurs that succeeded at their very first attempts. On the contrary most entrepreneurs fail many times before they finally get their breakthrough. Unfortunately, many people give up just before that breakthrough arrives.

You can hear the names of all the great and successful entrepreneurs you are hearing today because they refused to five up. Even the bible said that it is only those that endured to the end that shall be saved. No one celebrates a man that stops on the way. If you are still contemplating whether to venture into entrepreneurship or not, let me warn you ahead of time – it will not be easy.

Call it grit, call it perseverance, call it tenacity of purpose – it is all the same thing. And every successful entrepreneur you see out there have it in abundance.

But if you refuse to give up, you will be celebrated.

9. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Determination

Entrepreneurs are true ‘believers’. In their minds there is nothing that is impossible. So because they believe in possibility even when it does not look obvious  they are determined to make it work. As far as an entrepreneur is concerned the question of will it work. does not arise. They know it will definitely work. Rather, they are asking ‘how do I make it work?’ And that question actually triggers a lot of thoughts within them and call up the creative genius within them. And the result? It works.

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10. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Flexibility

Entrepreneurs don’t give. They are ready to see their ideas through. But, they are also willing to change their strategy. They don’t insist the original way they conceived the idea is the way it must remain. They are willing to explore whatever works. For them, the vision is the vision, but the strategies can change. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs have had to change even their brand names when they sensed that another name will better project the brand.

11. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Decision Making

There is something psychologist describe as analysis paralysis. It is an inability to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. An entrepreneur can have too much data or options over a given issue. For some, the result is an endless wrangling over the upsides and downsides of each option, and therefore an inability to pick one.

But not an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are great at making decisions.

However, you must not confuse this to mean that entrepreneurs don’t think think through issues. No not at all. Entrepreneurs more than anyone else understands that one wrong decision could crumble what they have been building for years – think of the case of Yahoo and their 35.4 billion dollar mistake as a result of poor decision. The advantage they have here is that of decisiveness. In fact, every entrepreneur tends to have this sixth sense and it makes them to choose right even when the answer isn’t quite obvious.

Of course entrepreneurs aren’t right 100% of the times. They occasionally make the wrong call. But they rather get it wrong than not act at all. And even before making the decision they are ready to take responsibility if it turns out to be a wrong one. But by all means it won’t stop them.

12. Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs – Action Oriented

Finally, of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is that they are action-oriented. Once a decision is made the next thing you see from an entrepreneur is action. Every successful entrepreneur you know today is a man or woman of action.

The truth is that an average idea vigorously pursued will always make it to the market faster than an excellent idea with no action.

So action is everything and entrepreneurs are known for taking actions.

An average idea vigorously pursued will always make it to the market faster than an excellent idea with no action


The list above is by no means exhaustive. I can go on and on in listing more characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. But the above 12 is the foundation upon which every successful business must be built. Go and check all the big names in entrepreneurship, you will find these traits in them all. Even an introvert can be a great entrepreneur with these character traits.

So before you venture into entrepreneurship, you need to check yourself to be sure it is for you..

Remember, no matter how popular it becomes, entrepreneurship is not and can never be for everybody. And no one has the right to make you feel less because you are not one.

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