An entrepreneur is someone who sets up a business, takes on most of the risk and reaps most of the reward when the business succeeds. Entrepreneurs are generally seen as innovators who are able to identify an opportunity, and are prepared to take a chance on a new concept, service or product overcoming whatever obstacles may be in their path to make their business dream a reality.
So what are the characteristics of an entrepreneur? Not everyone has the characteristics for success that are necessary to become an entrepreneur but there are a number of entrepreneurship traits common to most people who have started and run successful businesses. You may not have all these traits currently, and you may have others that become central to your future success. It’s probably true to say that even with everything in place you will still need a bit of luck to reach all your business goals. The following is a list of the characteristics that make a good starting point in your quest to discovering whether you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
Creativity means finding new, innovative solutions to problems; identifying gaps in the market; coming up with novel ideas and then finding ways to put them into practice. To get out of the starting blocks, you need not only to have creativity, but an ability to implement those ideas.
Passion for your work will keep you motivated so that no matter how many challenges you face, you will persevere by putting in those extra hours, work to overcome obstacles and keep going forward.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur you need to have an optimistic outlook, which means focusing on the positive and showing resilience in the face of obstacles. Optimism means not allowing yourself to be demotivated.
You can remain optimistic by:
- Surrounding yourself with optimistic staff
- Seeing curveballs as challenges and opportunities, rather than problems
- Finding the positive in every situation and moving forward from there
- Listening to inspirational talks, reading inspirational stories and removing negative energy from your work environment
4. Ability to plan
There’s a lot of truth to the old saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Planning means strategising, thinking ahead, developing a logical way forward, focusing on your vision and creating a solid structure that will take you to your end goal.
It’s not possible to succeed without believing in yourself, and the product or service you are offering. Self-doubt means that you will become easily discouraged and will struggle to stay the distance. Self-confidence will provide the fuel you need to carry on regardless.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to have a vision of what you want to achieve. At all times your actions, objectives and goals need to keep pointing towards your dream – no matter how difficult the way forward, as a successful entrepreneur you should never lose sight of that vision.
7. Ability to take risks
You need to be able to go out on a limb for ideas that you believe in. If you are not prepared to take a risk, then its unlikely you will venture into exploring the unknown. Of course, the risk you take needs to be based on solid research – it needs to be a calculated risk. You need to have worked through the consequences of failure and how likely your plan is to succeed. You need the ability to keep a fine balance between risk and reward.
8. Ability to make decisions
As a successful entrepreneur, you need to make decisions quickly in order not to miss an opportunity when it presents itself. If you are too slow on the uptake you could miss taking the opportunity that sets you on your path to success. It takes self-confidence, determination and a clear vision to be able to make a decision and then stand by it. It also takes insight to recognise that the result of that decision might be less than successful, and then to swiftly take steps to change lanes.
As an entrepreneur there is no boss looking over your shoulder, no one at your back motivating you to move forward. Clearly then, you need plenty of discipline to work independently and move towards your goals, overcoming whatever obstacles are in your way that might weaken your drive. Successful entrepreneurs persist with their plans, keeping their eye on the big picture and persevering against the odds.
10. Ability to lead
Entrepreneurs need to be strong leaders with excellent communication skills, an ability to motivate their team towards a common vision, and also inspire trust and loyalty. Leadership means getting, and keeping, the respect of team members and fostering a strong set of values and principles in an environment where people are driven to pull together as a team. Read more here about the qualities of an effective leader.
If you decide that entrepreneurship is a career for you, have a look at the IIE BCom Entrepreneurship qualification, through the IIE’s Varsity College.
The IIE is South Africa’s largest registered and accredited private provider of higher education. At Varsity College we understand that no two students are the same, or learn the same. That’s why we make sure a student’s education is shaped around them; how they like to learn, what they are passionate about, what makes them tick, and what makes them thrive. Our education by design approach allows students to grow into their best, and creates a space where they can live, learn and play - their way.