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7 Essential Characteristics of the Successful Entrepreneur

01 (44)1) Tolerance for risk: This is perhaps the most essential psychological trait you must possess to successfully surf times of uncertainty and challenge that come with entrepreneurship. Those prone towards worry or anxiety who crave predictability and security may not be well suited for being a business owner.

If tolerance for risk is taken too far, it can look more like addiction—a compulsive need to gamble in hopes of gaining more. Having a good financial advisor and/or accounting consultant is a good system of checks and balances to keep you out of trouble.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~Mark Twain

2) Dedication: Employees can call it a day at 5, whereas a business owner is the one who is ultimately responsible 24/7.  An employee can quit a job when times are tough, whereas it is up to the business owner to steer the ship in a positive direction.

Dedication taken too far can turn to work-a-holism, a condition that is common for small business owners.  Nobody is going to make you punch out, so you need to set some healthy boundaries around your schedule in order to attain work/life balance.

“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” ~Thomas Edison

3) ConfidenceThere is a need to be confident and decisive even when the future is unknown.  However, if taken too far to the point of arrogance, this trait can become a liability.  Arrogance can lead to ego-driven foolhardy and can damage relationships and reputation, both of which are key for business owners.  A little humility is a good as healthy confidence demonstrates respect for both self and others.

“Believe that you can and you’re halfway there.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

4) Creativity : Business owners are the ones who don’t take no for an answer and are able to think outside the box to achieve their goals.

Creativity can be taken too far when entrepreneurs want to do try too many new things at once and spread themselves too thin.  I usually encourage clients to only make one significant change at a time, as entrepreneurship is a bit like a house of cards—you want to stabilize each layer before building the next.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”-Albert Einstein

5) Vision: Entrepreneurs can identify where their niche meets a need in the world and how to make that vision come to fruition. They are able to have foresight and see future potential.

In order to maximize success, you should create a board of advisors and seek counsel. Access the power of collective intelligence.  Ask people who you respect with skill sets different from your own to provide consultation on your business plan and development.  You must listen to the advice of others, check in with your deepest self about what feels right and then make your vision become a reality.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

 6) Passion: You must love your work. I consider my business my third baby and light up when I talk about it.  Its mission is congruent with my highest self, values and aspirations.  This love gets me through the trials and tribulations and mundane tasks that are a part of every business.

“Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius

7) Patience: Building a business is a process and sometimes a slow one.  Often, it seems there are more ebbs than flows, especially initially.  Think of it like creating a work of art—try to enjoy the process and understand that each day is a building block getting you closer to your dream.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” ~St. Augustine

Consider working on developing these aspects of self through therapy, coaching or business consultation.  I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

“May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light. May good luck pursue you each morning and night.”

What other characteristics do you feel entrepreneurs must possess?

Image: Creative Commons License Victor1558 via Compfight

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7 Essential Characteristics of the Successful Entrepreneur

Joyce Marter, LCPC

Joyce Marter, LCPC is the Founder of Urban Balance and public speaker. You may find her at her personal website here, or you may follow her on Twitter.

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APA Reference
Marter, J. (2013). 7 Essential Characteristics of the Successful Entrepreneur. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Aug 2013
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