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What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?

By Edited Feb 24, 2016 4 20

Two years ago I decided to jump into the adventure of starting my own business. For this reason, I have watched successful entrepreneurs very closely to see what they have in common.  After participating in various forums, professional associations, and networking groups, I have noticed there are certain characteristics that are common to all entrepreneurs that have been able to put their ideas in action and have created successful businesses.  Here is a list of their common characteristics and some videos to complement it:

Courage – Successful entrepreneurs have the courage to do what most people wouldn’t, in spite of anything.  Because they are human like you and me, they may fear failure but their fears don’t stop them to do what they think is right to achieve their goals.  They go for their goals anyways knowing they may have the same chances of succeeding or failing. They would rather say ‘oh well’ if things don’t go well, and not ‘what if?’  They are willing to take risks for better or worse.

Creativity – Sometimes the most successful entrepreneur is not the one that comes with an idea first, but the one that executes it more creatively.  Almost anything we could think of has already been thought of or created by someone else.  That has never stopped successful entrepreneurs.  When the movie rental business was going down, RedBox came into play with an innovative way of providing a more affordable and convenient automated movie rental service.

Fluid intelligence – Recent studies from the Founder Institute in San Diego, California, have determined that a key factor to entrepreneurial success is the ability to think on your feet; this means the ability to quickly learn new rules, keep them in short-term memory and apply them instantly. When entrepreneurs start their new venture they are exposed to receive an impressive amount of new information; fluid intelligence would be the ability to react correctly to all this new information.

Focus on customers needs – Most successful entrepreneurs have created a business that provides a solution to a current or an emerging need of people.  These people have made their homework in analyzing trends and current market needs.  When their businesses are the solution to a need, they have a winning formula there. Sometimes their businesses are seen as the first, the only, the best or the most affordable solution.  They just make sure they take care of that need better than anyone else in their own way.

Leadership – This is one of the most important traits observed in the group of successful business people.  Successful business people don’t sit and wait for others to solve their situations; they took the lead about their own destiny. They don’t mind being first to propose a solution to existing problems. They take the initiative to make the necessary changes to create different results. Most of them also have the ability to inspire other people to follow them or support them in achieving their goals.  They also know that they need to create a team of people with a different set of skills, experiences and talents to meet their goals more easily.

Passion – Most successful business people love what they do.  Steve Jobs said “…the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”  Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Mark Zuckerberg are great examples of people who did something they loved and became more successful than they ever dreamed of.  When J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter she didn’t do it thinking she would become one of the richest women in Europe.  She just did something she was passionate about, which was writing a fantasy story for kids.  

Persistence – Successful entrepreneurs today may have not been successful during their first years.  When Fred DeLuca started Subway, his first store made only $6 after its first year, but he opened a second store which also lost money, and he open a third one that finally made him some money. It took him a lot of work before he made any considerable profit.  He could have shut down the business and forget all about it and get a job, but he kept on trying until he made a profit out of his business idea. 

Fred DeLuca’s was the perfect example of trying until you get the results you want.  Today’s successful entrepreneurs got rejected many times during their first years, but they kept on trying until somebody said yes to them. Sometimes they had to reinvent their ideas and they had to make some changes to get that yes.  For example, Fred De Luca changed his business name from Pete’s Submarines to Subway and kept opening stores to gain visibility and create an image of success. 

Vision – Just like Steve Jobs, who was a visionary ahead of his time, successful entrepreneurs have the gift to see beyond their current circumstances.  When the economy is in recession they are already planning for when the economy is blooming again.  They can see opportunities where everybody else sees problems, chaos and confusion. It is their strong and solid vision that guides them toward success.

These eight characteristics can be easily found in successful people all around, not only entrepreneurs.  The best part is that most can be acquired or learned with hard work and practice.  To start your own business and be successful, it requires all the above mentioned characteristics, but most of all, it requires commitment and passion. 



Feb 16, 2012 4:59pm
If you put in five times the work you will be five times as lucky. Great article, I think even more than vision for your idea you need a vision for yourself - what drives you to want to achieve? Is it financial independence? Freedom from burdens? The ability to pursue interests? All of those things should interest you!

Thanks for sharing!
Feb 16, 2012 5:38pm
Definitely Ziggy! I completely agree. People need to envision what is what they want out of life for themselves and focus on that because that will be the driving force behind their success. It could be another good article. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
Feb 16, 2012 6:59pm
Hi there! Thanks for posting this on Google+ That's how I found your excellent article.
Feb 16, 2012 7:07pm
Thank you Tracey! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I also replied to your comment on Google +.
Feb 17, 2012 7:29am
BoricuaWriter! Excellent information here! Hey, now I will really appreciate my next SubWay sandwich! I don't think I'd have the stamina to lose that much in order to be successful! Liked!
Feb 17, 2012 7:52am
Thanks for your comment CrazyGata!
Mar 6, 2012 1:45am
To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to know how to manage your time and money. time and money should not be played with.
Mar 6, 2012 1:45am
To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to know how to manage your time and money. time and money should not be played with.
Mar 6, 2012 11:42am
Absolutely! I completely agree with you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Jun 27, 2013 9:03am
Hi Seyi,
I don't think I agree with not playing with your money. Entrepreneurship is about taking educated risks. Almost every entreprenuer I've met puts risk taking high on their list. Anywhee from 7 to 10 out of 10. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and John D. Rockfeller did. They went all in and took on increadible risk to creat their vision. You can always make more money. What you can never make more of is your time. You don't play with your time because you will never get it back. That's the reason why most of us go into entreprenuership to begin with, so we can have more time to do the things we love.
Now in regards to time
Mar 7, 2012 1:10am
Great article, especially the choice of videos! Two great examples of entrepreneurs from ordinary backgrounds making a difference in the world.
Mar 7, 2012 9:02am
Thank you Brett!
Mar 11, 2012 1:55am
Great article. Can luck be included? I sometimes think that some people are just plain lucky. :)
Apr 2, 2012 2:54am
Well spoken I couldn t agree with u more.
Apr 3, 2012 8:26pm
Thanks WebAddict and Harold717! Thank you for your comments.
Apr 24, 2012 7:31pm
This is a great article and it really covers a lot of things that all entrepreneurs should have.
Apr 27, 2012 3:33pm
Thanks for your comment tkmcdonald!
May 16, 2012 8:46am
Thank you GirliBird! I admire all successful entrepreneurs very much because of their courage and passion.
Jun 27, 2013 9:07am
Love it! Very inspirational. I couldn't see the second video; it says that the video is private.
Jun 27, 2013 12:16pm
Thank you Social Genius for stopping by and posting your comments! It means a lot. I will take a look to see what's going on with that video.
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  1. "DeLuca, Fred - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Fred DeLuca, Social and Economic Impact." Net Industries. 12/02/2012 <Web >
  2. Patzer, A. "Predicting entrepreneurial success: Got what it takes?." CNN Money. 28/07/2010. 12/02/2012 <Web >
  3. Jobs, S. "Stanford commencement speech, June 2005." YouTube. 12/02/2012 <Web >

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