Do I have what it takes? This question haunts most of us whenever we think about setting out on a new business endeavor. Self-doubt almost always finds a way to creep into our thoughts, usually keeping us from even getting our foot in the door. We don’t see in ourselves the characteristics of an entrepreneur that we think should be there.
Part of the reason we feel like this is because of the way we view entrepreneurs once they have achieved success. We see their smiling facing and looks of fulfillment. And we think they look like someone who has emerged on the other side without taking any hits or never having stumbled. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As most (honest) entrepreneurs will tell you, success didn’t come easy. There were a lot of personal as well as real-world obstacles to overcome. In the end, you could say that one of the biggest characteristics that led to their success was the ability to identify their faults and improve on them.
This kind of flexibility and willingness to strive to become better might just be the best character trait you can cultivate. So, with that in mind, let’s look at the 10 best and worst characteristics of an entrepreneur.
The best characteristics of an entrepreneur
Disciplined in how they approach their personal life and their business life
Unless you are one of those people that can completely shrug off any personal life ambitions such as a family, there will always be a certain amount of influence both these spheres will have on each other.
That means that chaos in your personal life will inevitably spill over to your work and vice versa. Success in both is needed to truly get the most out of life and to be a balanced human being.
That extends to any vices you might have, it will be hard to achieve consistency in your work if you are constantly in bad shape physically or mentally. Your drinking, eating, physical health, and mental state will all affect your work. Likewise, bad working habits like overworking, strenuous hours, etc. will also take their toll. Work is work and not work is, well, not work.
Confidence in themselves and their abilities
This is a tricky one. When exactly does confidence turn into arrogance? That is a fine balance everyone struggles to find (and sometimes never do). To enable yourself to take on new challenges, take on responsibility, and to grab any opportunity that comes along with both hands will be almost impossible without any self-belief.
As you start working with other people, having an air of confidence will also help others have faith in you. Once people believe in you, you have a certain responsibility to carry through and not disappoint them. So, while you should believe in yourself, you shouldn’t let this blind you to your own limitations and real-world circumstances.
Open minded and willing to seize any opportunity
On many lists like this one, you will see a characteristic that’s something like this: “Has a clear goal and works relentlessly towards it.” While having a clear vision of what you want to achieve will keep you on track through many hardships, it also shouldn’t give you tunnel vision so that you miss other opportunities.
Remember that the road to the top is rarely a straight and narrow one. There will be many off-branches on the way that might get you to where you want to be later on but might not have formed part of your original plan.
Doesn’t wait for others to do something for them
The life of an entrepreneur can sometimes be a lonely one. There will be plenty of times that you have no one else to rely on but yourself. In these times, it’s important that you don’t just sit back and wait for something to happen or someone else to come through for you.
Sometimes you need to be the spark that lights the fire because there simply isn’t anyone else right now that is going to do it. You need to identify these moments and seize them with both hands. That’s the ultimate sign of a real entrepreneur.
Passion and belief in what they are doing
If you don’t believe in what you are doing, how are others supposed to? Whatever venture you are tackling right now, you should stop at some point and ask yourself if this is something you can really get behind or is it just for the money.
If it’s the latter, you will just find it that much harder to motivate yourself to go the extra mile. People are also surprisingly good at reading subtle body language and attitude queues. They will pick up on your conviction in what you’re trying to sell them and this will influence their decision.
Strong people skills
As an entrepreneur, you will constantly be surrounded by people. They will make up your customers, your business partners, your clients, and your benefactors or investors. Whatever you do, you aren’t getting away from them.
That makes people skills one of the most important characteristics you can have. Whether it is to convince them to believe in your vision, in yourself, motivate them to work or just interact with them in day-to-day living.
Willingness to take risks and put something on the line
Nothing risked, nothing gained as the old saying goes. We remember that we said the entrepreneur’s road to success is rarely a straight one without any bumps. You should be able to accept setbacks and losses as a part of what you are doing.
This means that you will sometimes need to invest your time and money into things that you aren’t 100% sure will result in a profit. Often, the ventures that have the most inherent risk also have the biggest potential payout.
Knowledgeable in their field
No matter what role you will fulfill in the business venture, whether you are the technical brains, the networker, the investor, or the manager, it never hurts to have a working knowledge in whatever field or industry you’re operating in.
This will help you look at your results from the right perspective on top of helping you figure out where you and your business fit into the bigger picture. Being sensitive to outside factors that influence the success of the industry as a whole is crucial.
Good financial skills and discipline
Fiscal discipline is an imperative trait to have as an entrepreneur. If you are like most entrepreneurs out there, you will start with limited funds and there will be plenty of times ahead where you will need to tighten your belt and tough it out.
Making things work within a budget might be a make or break factor more than once in your endeavors. This goes beyond just carefully monitoring your expenses but also includes making smart and savvy moves with the money you do have.
The worst characteristics of an entrepreneur
Habitually making excuses and constantly blaming outside factors
Taking ownership and responsibility is a must. After all, if you truly do believe in your vision or business idea then any failure it endures should feel personal to a certain extent. Yes, sometimes things happen beyond our control to frustrate our plans, but that should motivate you to be on the lookout the next time you are in that situation. Don’t make excuses!
That doesn’t mean beating yourself up. It just means taking up the responsibility and using the failure to learn and self-improve.
Unable to be honest with oneself above all
Sometimes it’s much more difficult to be honest with yourself than to be honest with the people around you. It’s so easy to say something is not your fault, to have blind belief in the extent of your ability in a certain field, to think that you should be doing something without actually knowing why.
Being honest with yourself actually lies at the bottom of identifying and fixing most of your negative traits as well as giving yourself credit for your positive ones.
Not telling the truth, even when it’s not pretty
As far as it’s possible, you should always be honest with your clients, your customers, your business partners, and your employees. You’re responsible to them and not telling them the truth can lead to something far worse than them blindly walking into a trap. You will forfeit the trust and respect that they have for you, something that is much more valuable than money in your pocket.
Overconfidence in their own knowledge and abilities
We mentioned the need for balance when it comes to confidence before in the positive characteristics section. Not only can arrogance and overconfidence lead you straight into a trap that is almost impossible to get out of but it will lead to you making false promises to others that you simply can’t keep, whether you knew it in that moment or not.
Hesitating at crucial moments
Not taking an opportunity when it presents itself is one of the greatest sins any entrepreneur can make. Today everything happens at lightning speed and there is no telling how long a golden window of opportunity will remain open.
This also counts for opportunities that you’ve previously missed. What is a good opportunity now might not have been a good one the last time you tried and failed and it might not come around again. Remember, take any mistake as just another necessary part of your journey and your learning curve.
Unable to trust others to take responsibility
You can only be in one place at once. A man only has two hands. You don’t have eyes in the back of your head. All these old cliches exist for a reason. As good an entrepreneur or businessman you might be, you can only do so much on your own. You will inevitably need to rely on someone in some way, shape or form. Being unable to do so is like chopping off a limb.
Shying away from head-on confrontation when it’s needed
By this, we don’t mean that you should be wearing boxing gloves 24/7 and shouting down anyone who voices an opinion contrary to your own. However, you should always be willing and ready to defend yourself and your idea, product or business against unfair criticism or slander.
When you work with others, you need to be willing to discipline employees when necessary, voice your opinion at meetings, and stand up when you believe a line has been crossed.
Unable to change or adapt
The world is changing in front of our eyes year by year and the process is only speeding up, not slowing down. Every year new careers, job opportunities, industries, and niches arise only for old ones to become defunct or extinct. Adapting and evolving has become one of the single most important traits in modern-day success.
Your skills need to be updated to account for the latest trends and knowledge we have available, particularly in the IT and technology fields.
Demands perfection from everything
By this we don’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for perfection, however, some people place such an importance on perfection that they let it paralyze them. Sometimes you just need to get something out of the door in the best shape possible.
Even the notoriously perfectionistic Steve Jobs had to knowingly release inferior products in order to keep the company (and his vision) as a whole alive. In business, something is always better than nothing.
Understand these characteristics of an entrepreneur to improve your business
As you read both these lists, you might find many characteristics that seemingly contradict each other in some way. However, as you dig deeper, you will find that the answer lies somewhere in between two extremes. Finding a balance between many of these characteristics of an entrepreneur is one of the key aspects when it comes to living a good life and being a good entrepreneur in the new year.
We hope that you take this list to heart. Identify which good qualities you already possess and which ones you should put some energy into improving. Anything can be improved, more often than not it’s just a case of attitude adjustment and conditioning yourself.