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What characteristics are commonly found in good entrepreneurs? What characteristics are common to unsuccessful entrepreneurs? What factors are relevant to success? While today’s business owners are a very diverse group, there is a set of core traits commonly found in successful entrepreneurs.

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Planning Skills - Planning is a strength of successful entrepreneurs. They understand the risks and rewards before they start their business.
Achievement Oriented - Good entrepreneurs make things happen. Their determination is limitless and they do not allow obstacles to keep them from their goals.
Competitive - A strong competitive spirit burns in the best entrepreneurs. They strive to beat the odds and are disappointed with second place.
Strong Work Ethic - Starting a business is hard work and should not be taken lightly. Entrepreneurs work long hours and make their money the old fashioned way--through hard work and one dollar at a time.
Nonconformity - Entrepreneurs tend to be independent souls who set their own goals. This does not mean they cannot work well with others. They simply march to their own drummer.
Strong Leadership - Every stage of the business start-up process requires the entrepreneur to take charge and steer the ship.
Common Sense - Street smarts, instinct, intuition, call it what you may. Successful entrepreneurs have very keen judgment and can think and act on their feet.
Support Network - Good entrepreneurs realize they cannot do everything on their own. They seek professional assistance from accountants, advisors, attorneys, insurers, and bankers. These people provide backup when the going gets tough, and they must be in place before disaster strikes.

Habits of Unsuccessful Entrepreneurs

High Risk Taking - Surprisingly, good entrepreneurs are not extreme risk takers. They are attracted to situations where success is determined by skill and hard work rather than by chance. Think of starting a business as going on a roller coaster ride. The ups, downs, twists, and turns usually come in a rapid sequence; starting a business is no different. The entrepreneur is not afraid to take on a project that might fail, but s/he also works to minimize the risk.
Poor Planning - The idea of starting a business is very exciting, and many fledgling entrepreneurs rush through the process. Entrepreneurs need to spend countless hours studying information about market, marketing, finance, management, and other areas before they can open for business.
Overestimating - There is nothing wrong with optimism, but expecting sky high profits during the first month of operation is very dangerous. Wise business owners keep their sales projections reasonable and know their limitations.
Impatience - Unsuccessful entrepreneurs become discouraged if they don’t show a profit after the first month. Smart business owners appreciate the amount of time a business needs to grow.

Factors Unrelated to Entrepreneur Success

Age - Traditionally, the average age of an entrepreneur was between thirty and fifty. Today, the age of a would-be business owner is practically irrelevant to business success. Bill Gates founded Microsoft at age twenty, and Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s restaurant chain at age fifty-nine.
Gender - In a bygone era, starting a business was considered a gentleman’s pursuit. Today, female entrepreneurs in industries such as printing, construction, manufacturing, and software have dispelled this outdated mode of thought.
Education - Entrepreneurs need skills and knowledge related to their particular industry. How they acquire that knowledge is irrelevant. Having a degree never hurts, but it is no longer a requirement to start a business.

Do You Have What It Takes to Start a Business?

You may not fit all of these characteristics, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and build from there. First know yourself and your goals, then seek support to fill in the gaps.

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