There’s a neverending debate on whether entrepreneurs are born or made. I don’t claim to be able to make the call one way or another, but I have noticed several characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that business owners seem to share.

While we’re all unique as business owners, you’ve got to admit that we share certain characteristics that help us have the drive we need to succeed. Which of these do you have?

  1. Drive to Succeed. I guess without this, there’d be no reason to start a business. But every entrepreneur I’ve met (including myself) has something in them that won’t settle for halfway. It’s that Type A personality that refuses to relent until success is achieved. Can you relate?
  2. Take Risks. I don’t naturally identify as being a risk-taker, but I look at the fact that I quit a job to start a company with zero dollars, and yes, I guess I have taken a few risks along the way. You can’t be scared of failure as an entrepreneur, that’s for sure.
  3. Are Never Satisfied. Part of that drive for success is caused by never being satisfied. If you’ve got five, you want ten, and twice as fast. Entrepreneurs can’t settle with what they’ve got if they always want more.
  4. Have the Ability to Work Long Hours. Especially when a business is new, this is key. There’s something that’s less stressful about working 60 hours (at least for a few weeks) when you know you’re building something from scratch.
  5. Love What They Do. Again, why be in business if you don’t love what you do? I love hearing stories of people (like CorpNet’s own Nellie Akalp) who do what they love, and love what they do. Coming to work is never a burden!
  6. Live the Brand. There’s no separation between an entrepreneur and his company. He is the brand, in a sense, as he represents it 24/7.
  7. Have Discipline. Entrepreneurs are usually pretty disciplined about getting things done…on their own terms. That might mean their days begin at 11 am after surfing, or that they run their business from home, but once they’ve set up processes, getting it done is their mantra.
  8. Maintain Balance. This may be less of a characteristic and more of a skill, but successful entrepreneurs know how to separate work and personal. They don’t take work home with them (unless that’s where their offices are), and they maintain a healthy balance between the two.
  9. Are Experts. Because entrepreneurs are so ingrained in their field, many serve as public experts and share their knowledge through blogging and social media (note: this is a fabulous marketing tool).
  10. Are Available. Unlike that stuffy CEO that didn’t found his own company, entrepreneurs tend to take an interest in employees and customers alike, and while their schedules are busy, they make an effort to be available.
  11. Determination. Not willing to give up, we forge ahead until we get what we want. Sometimes this isn’t our employees’ favorite of our characteristics, as it can make us “slave drivers,” expecting everyone else to live up to our own expectations for the business.
  12. Competitiveness. Ever since grade school, we’ve been in competition; first with others, and now with ourselves. Our best isn’t good enough; we want more. This constant striving for perfection means we stay ahead of our competition in the marketplace.
  13. Risk-Taking. As an entrepreneur, you can’t fear risk, because you take it every day. You risk not making enough to pay your staff.  You risk losing all your business, should you be sued (that’s when corporations come in handy). You risk utter failure. Yet we still do what we do.
  14. Hard-Working. Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of a little (or a lot of) work. Many of us thrive on 60-hour workweeks (not I). We know that it takes a lot of work to get a business off the ground, and we’re willing to put in the time.
  15. Difficulty Disconnecting. I’d bet this is the least favorite characteristic for every spouse of an entrepreneur. We sneak a peek at our email at dinner. We take our computers on vacation. We have trouble completely disconnecting from our business, simply because we are our business.
  16. Flexible. As entrepreneurs, we have to roll with the punches. We must be flexible in the face of constantly changing technology, competition, and pricing, otherwise we face extinction.
  17. Visionary. We might not all be the visionaries Steve Jobs was, but we have our own creativity that we apply to our businesses. It’s this vision that inspires our staff to want to make the business better.
  18. Communicators. We communicate all day long: on the phone, by email, and on social media. It comes naturally to us. If we have any shortfall in this area, it’s communicating to our staff, giving them pats on the back for jobs well done.
  19. Easily Bored. I’m willing to bet part of the reason you started a business was that you got bored at your past jobs. You weren’t inspired enough. You quickly mastered tasks and then needed something else to engage you. Running your own business means you’re never bored because you can keep challenging yourself.
  20. An Entrepreneur for Life. For those of us that are fortunate enough to sell a business in our lifetime, we won’t be done. Sure, we might try sailing around the world on the money we’ve made, but chances are, we will be unable to stay away from creating something new. We are, what you call, “Lifers!”

How characteristics of successful entrepreneurs do you identify with? Are there other characteristics you’d add?


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