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The top 10 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes more than just having a great idea; it takes grit, determination, and a whole lot of hard work. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, make sure you have these 10 essential characteristics.

1. Be passionate about your work. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s going to be very difficult to stick with it through the tough times. And there will be tough times! When you’re passionate about your work, it helps you see through.

2. You MUST be self-motivated. As an entrepreneur, there’s no one else to motivate you to get your work done except for yourself. You won’t have a boss breathing down your neck, or a clock to punch. You need to be able to stay focused and driven, even when things are a slog.

3. You have to be a risk-taker. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. You’re making a bet that your product or service will sell, at a profit, more than once. Of course, not all risks are created equal; you need to be able to assess which risks are worth taking and which ones aren’t. As much as we like to hear stories of gutsy entrepreneurs who flew by the seat of their pants and gambled it all on one crazy idea, we need to remember that for every success story, there are a thousand failures.

4. You’ll need to be a creative problem-solver. There will be problems—that’s a given. Some problems you’ll be able to research your way out of, because someone, somewhere else will have encountered the same problem and found a solution. But the successful entrepreneurs are those who are able to find creative solutions to those problems that are unique to their situation.

5. Entrepreneurs must be good communicators. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to communicate your vision clearly to others, whether it’s potential customers, investors, or employees. Especially employees! If people can’t understand what you’re trying to achieve, they won’t be able to get behind your business.

6. You have to be persistent. Things will go wrong—it’s inevitable. But successful entrepreneurs are those who don’t give up when they’re told no; they find a way to pick themselves up and keep going until they achieve their goal. 

7. Another great trait is to be confident (but not cocky). It’s important to believe in yourself and your idea, but there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness. No one wants to do business with someone who comes across as arrogant or over-the-top confident; that will only turn people away from your business. Hollywood and Silicon Valley may like to celebrate brilliant jerks, but no one wants to work with them for very long. And eventually their ‘jerkitude’ catches up with them and they crash, hard.

8. It’s critical to have, or to develop, leadership skills. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able lead others—whether it’s your team of employees or a group of investors—towards a common goal. People need to be inspired by you and believe that you can help them achieve success. 

9. You’ll also need to be resilient. There will be setbacks and failures along the way. Probably a lot of them! The successful entrepreneurs are those who are able bounce back from them quickly and, more importantly, learn from their mistakes. 

10. I saved the best for last: You absolutely need to be organized. Being organized is key for any entrepreneur. With so many moving parts, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks if you’re not keeping track of everything. A good way to stay organized is by using a project management tool. We personally use Todoist, and have done for years.

Image credit: Midjourney

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