9 Characteristics of Good Entrepreneurs – Do You Have What it Takes?


Owning a business is not for the timid. Okay, let’s be a little more specific. Entrepreneurship is not for wimps. In fact, you have to be pretty tough to pull it off without losing your mind. Here are 9 other characteristics or skills that make a good entrepreneur. While possessing these qualities won’t guarantee you success as a business owner, NOT having most of these qualities should make you think long and hard before quitting your day job.

1. Tenacity—you will be told “no” by landlords, bankers, potential clients, vendors and others in the process of getting your business up and running. If hearing the word “no” sends you packing, you should re-think entrepreneurship.

2. Healthy Ego—while you should not be narcissistic, you should have a certain amount of ego. You’re about to go where the masses don’t have the courage to go. You ought to be pretty dang confident that in the face of all obstacles, you can prevail. If you have a self-esteem issue, entrepreneurship and its many obstacles and roadblocks, and ups and downs, may overwhelm you.

3. Leadership Drive—you cannot be a follower AND a good entrepreneur. Often times it’s just you. Who are you going to follow? Even if you have a team working with or for you, since you are the owner they will be looking to you to set the vision and strategy. You had better be able to step up and provide leadership or the vacuum will be deep and wide.

4. Creativity—it will be hard to compete in your industry if the only thing you know to do is do what everybody else does. You need to have some creative skills that allow you to see possibilities for your business beyond the obvious. If you don’t, your competition will, and they will leave you in the dust. Creativity doesn’t mean “artsy”. Creativity means the ability to see opportunities where others don’t and the ability to find new solutions to old problems. If this is not your strong suit, make sure you have a mentor or someone on your “success team” who possesses this attribute.

5. Street Smarts-you have to be able to think on your feet and know how to “punt” in difficult, unknown territory. You won’t always have the right answers and will rarely know it all, but as the owner, people will have high expectations that you do. If methodical processes and logical paths are where you live, you’re off to a great start, but you probably need to get your “street smarts” index up a few notches before launching out completely on your own.

6. Coping Skills—Entrepreneurship is rewarding but it is hard work and will stretch you sometimes to the breaking point. Good coping skills are a must. If you are fragile when it comes to stress, you are going to have serious problems handling entrepreneurship. Be sure to find a healthy and stable outlet for “de-stressing” in order to maximize your chances for success.

7. Problem Solving—every day is a new day with new problems to solve. The problems you think you solved last week often reappear in slightly different iterations, and new ones crop up regularly. “Assess and implement” rather than “analysis paralysis” is critical. Otherwise, stop and re-think whether you really want to own a business, which actually means owning all of its problems.

8. Risk Taker—you have to be determined to proceed without necessarily having all the pieces of the puzzle together or all the resources you need available. If you are naturally risk-averse, you will have a hard time stomaching entrepreneurship for very long. Maybe sharing the risk with a partner or co-owner is a viable option for you.

9. Common Sense—My friend Lisa always says “Common sense ain’t common”. I think there’s some truth to that. Nonetheless, you have to be able to break complex issues down into simple terms and get to the root of an issue. I once had a boss who had the absolutely maddening ability to take the simplest concepts and turn them into something convoluted. Not surprisingly, he seemed to delight in taking the complex and making it downright incomprehensible to mere mortals. That is not a cool attribute. People will appreciate you if save them thinking power. They will talk about you behind your back if everything has to be solved by algebraic equation.