Journal with secret plan to rule the world

Top 18 Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

What is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur1 is defined as “a person who makes money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks.” When one thinks of an entrepreneur, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or Steve Jobs might come to mind. All of these individuals are incredibly successful in their own right, but how did they get there?

Approximately 50% of new companies2 in the United States fail in the first five years of business. There is always a reason why a company fails, whether it’s because they run out of money, the demand for the product or service drops, changes in the market, etc. However, Gallup conducted a study and found that a significant indicator of whether a business succeeds or fails has to do with the person starting the company, what characteristics of an entrepreneur they have or lack. 

Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, the lead researcher on the study, said, “One thing that’s missing in this discussion is the attributes of the individual — the person who is at the center of a company, making day-to-day decisions for running the business, in highly uncertain circumstances, without full information.”

So, what are the essential characteristics of an entrepreneur?

Many characteristics can contribute to one’s success as an individual, but then there are characteristics of an entrepreneur that can contribute to one’s success as a leader. We have compiled a list of what some of the most influential entrepreneurs in history think are essential characteristics of an entrepreneur. 

1. Passion

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist3

2. Motivation

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan, NBA Legend4

3. Creative

“I realized that my product was in the sleepiest part of the department store. It was back in the corner, and nobody was going there. I immediately went and bought envelope dividers, put Spanx in them, and I ran around Neiman Marcus and put them at every register. By the time somebody figured out that nobody else had approved it — because everybody thought somebody else approved it — it was so

successful that the head of Neiman’s was like, ‘Whatever this girl’s doing, let her keep doing it.'” 

Sara Blakely, CEO, and Founder, Spanx5.

4. Knowledgeable

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”

Dave Thomas, Founder, Wendy’s6

5. Positive

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.”

Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company7

6. Adaptable

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison, Inventor8

7. Self-confident

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” 

Marissa Mayer, Co-founder, Sunshine Contact; Former President and CEO, Yahoo!9

8. Goal-orientated

“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars – I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

Warren Buffett, Chairman, and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway10

9. Patient

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” 

Biz Stone, Co-founder, Twitter11

10. Persuasive

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

Mary Kay Ash, Founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc.12

11. Risk Taker

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group13

12. Strong work ethic

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” 

Guy Kawasaki, Co-founder, Alltop14

13. Team player

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” 

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook15

14. Trustworthy

“The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led — is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” 

Brian Tracy, Author, Public Speaker, Entrepreneur16

15. Decisive

“Either run the day or the day runs you.” 

Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur17

16. Self-aware

“Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.” 

Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos18

17. Financially Savvy

“When in doubt, bootstrap. Using your own personal resources is the easiest way to start a business. You don’t have to convince investors about the merits of your idea. You just have to convince yourself.”

Ryan Holmes, Co-founder, Hootsuite19

18. Disciplined

“Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to do when want to do them!” 

Zig Zagler, Founder, Zig Zagler Corporation20

Becoming a well-rounded leader

If there’s one thing all of the characteristics of an entrepreneur share, it’s that together; they make a well-rounded leader. Now that you know what are the essential characteristics of an entrepreneur, you can look at yourself and identify weaknesses to improve on.

When is the right time to become an entrepreneur?

Characteristics of an entrepreneur influence and shape people in different ways. If you asked any of the entrepreneurs when the right time was for them to start their business – they would each give you a different answer.

For Sara Blakely21, the right time was after she did poorly on the LSAT multiple times and became tired of selling fax machines door-to-door. For Jeff Bezos22, the right time was when he was ready to quit his job and create an online bookstore in his garage. There might be things that lead up to you finally making the jump into entrepreneurship, but you ultimately have to be the one to make that decision. 

Getting laid off

Receiving the news that you have been laid off can be devastating. A sense of panic sets in as you immediately start thinking, “What am I going to do?” Woligo created a ‘What to Do After You Get Laid Off’ post to provide direction and comfort during your time of adjustment. But remember, a lot of entrepreneurs got their start after being forced out of their comfort zone. 

Steve Jobs, Founder and Former CEO of Apple, was fired from his job and similarly experienced the immediate loss of stability. Recalling that experience23, Jobs said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Make it happen

A cup of discipline, a dash of self-confidence, and a spoonful of motivation could be

all it takes for you to be the next Warren Buffet or Oprah Winfrey. 


  16. The importance of building trust | HuffPost Impact