Top Five Traits of Entrepreneurs


The top five traits of successful entrepreneurs are perseverance, motivation, creativity, risk-taking, and adaptability.

Perseverance is important because entrepreneurs are bound to encounter numerous difficulties, and persevering through them is the only way to succeed.

Motivation not only helps with perseverance but also provides entrepreneurs a clearer sense of direction.

Creativity allows entrepreneurs to better solve complex problems in society today and change the status quo.

Risk-taking is a key part of being an entrepreneur because of the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship, so knowing when to take risks is an important asset.

Lastly, adaptability is a skill that enables founders to learn and carry out different tasks required for running a startup.

What makes a successful entrepreneur? Intelligence? Education? Or is it a forceful personality? While a successful entrepreneur could possess all these attributes, they are not the most important ones. What is the most important, however, are the traits and attitudes a person possesses. After all, entrepreneurship can be seen as an adventure. Successful entrepreneurs know how to approach each step of the entrepreneurial journey.

While many different factors contribute to the success of an entrepreneur, personality is definitely one of them. Every successful entrepreneur is unique, but a closer look can reveal traits they all have in common. Below are five defining traits of accomplished entrepreneurs, and though some may be born with most or all of them, these traits can be developed over time.

1. Perseverance

We have all heard the story. A computer geek works tirelessly in a basement or dormitory and eventually becomes a successful billionaire. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin are all examples that fit this story, and the list goes on.

Now, what do they all have in common? All of them were undoubtedly faced with numerous difficulties during the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey, but all of them managed to persevere through these difficulties to build their startups into fully-fledged businesses. No matter how successful they seem now, it is important to remember that at some stage during their entrepreneurial journey, they were met with difficulties that needed to be overcome.

In fact, successful entrepreneurs are continually faced with difficulties that they need to overcome, even after the initial phases of entrepreneurship. If entrepreneurs do not persevere, their businesses will fail. Thus, no matter how tiresome or complicated something is, startup founders have to persevere through them. Because the consequences are so severe, perseverance is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur can possess.

Take the example of Steve Jobs. Not only did he co-found Apple in his parents’ basement, which inevitably led to many hardships, but he was also fired from the same company that he co-founded. Had he not had perseverance, he would have been thwarted by the various difficulties and would not be the entrepreneur people remember him as today.

2. Motivation

Motivation can be one way entrepreneurs maintain their perseverance. If someone is motivated, they are more likely to persevere through difficulties that come in their way than someone not motivated. Motivation, however, can do much more than just helping people persevere.

Entrepreneurs are often stated as visionaries. If an entrepreneur is motivated by a vision, they will be able to guide their businesses in the right direction and achieve success. Similarly, if an entrepreneur is motivated by the product they are building, they will no doubt spend more time developing it. Because of this, motivation will result in better products overall and a more successful entrepreneur.

Another source of motivation can be financial instability. Entrepreneurs can come from poor backgrounds or could have devoted all their savings to their company. If making the startup succeed is your only option, then you will work harder than everyone else. Compared to when they are not motivated by these factors, entrepreneurs are more likely to stick through difficulties when they are. No matter the type of motivation, it is a fundamental trait that will help entrepreneurs by significantly boosting their chances of success.

3. Creativity

Albert Einstein once said, “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” Even as a renowned scientist in one of the most rational fields, Einstein acknowledges the importance of imagination and creativity in coming up with solutions and discoveries to problems that he took on.

Complex problems often require creative solutions. At the end of the day, an entrepreneur solves problems, and a creative entrepreneur will be able to provide new solutions to existing problems. These problems can be ones in society that needs to be addressed, or they can be problems arising from within the startup that founders need to tackle. With creativity, entrepreneurs can handle either of these cases and build their startup in ways that other people cannot.

Creative people are also the ones to change the status quo. Think of Sergey Brin and Larry Page. If they were not creative individuals who saw potential in creating a search engine, would the world today be the same as it is now? By changing the status quo, entrepreneurs change the world with their revolutionary ideas, and the main ingredient for producing these extraordinary ideas is the creativity in our minds.

4. Risk-taking

Entrepreneurs are no doubt risk-takers. In fact, the act of starting a business is a risk in itself. In most circumstances, to-be entrepreneurs will have a job to begin with, and starting a business could mean leaving that job. Even though it might not be the most fulfilling job in the world, it at least pays a consistent salary, and starting a business will likely mean no longer having that consistent source of income. Some startups even continue to lose money for years before making a profit.

For example, Jeff Bezos quit his well-paying job in D.E. Shaw to start an online bookstore in his basement. Even though he had already made some money in his early years to sustain himself on his entrepreneurial journey, it was still a risk because he could not know for certain if his idea would pay off.

The act of starting a business is not the only risk that an entrepreneur will have to take. Each step of the entrepreneurial journey has its own risks. This is because there is so much uncertainty in the world of entrepreneurship that every move represents a risk, and being able to know when and how to approach such risks is vital to the success of an entrepreneur.

5. Adaptability

Perhaps the most important trait a successful entrepreneur can have is adaptability. As an entrepreneur, especially in the early stage of a startup, you will be doing many different tasks that you may or may not have experience with. For those tasks you do not have experience with, being able to learn them on the spot is a huge advantage. This is especially true for startups that do not yet have sufficient funding because if the founders are not able to adapt and learn a skill, they will have to hire someone else to take the role, which increases the cost of running the business.

Adaptability is also important in many other situations. For example, if your startup had just gained a new competitor, being able to adapt quickly is an important asset to beating the competition. If you discover that the original idea does not work, being able to adapt and pivot is key to the future success of the startup. These are just a couple of many cases when adaptability is important for entrepreneurs.

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