Essential qualities of an entrepreneur

Shawnee Love   •  
April 30, 2010

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur myself, I have also worked for a lot of them during my career. While the faces and fields have differed, the most successful ones had a few qualities in common.

If you are thinking about taking the plunge and becoming an entrepreneur, consider whether you have these six qualities (besides liking ichiban or kraft dinner an inordinate amount):

  1. Comfort with risk. Are you the sort that refuses mutual funds because you get a charge out of picking your own stocks? If so, you might be a good entrepreneur. However, it is a big adjustment to go from a regular pay cheque to awaiting payment on an invoice which may take 30-45 days, and that is assuming the invoice is paid at all. In start up, it can be feast or famine (hence the KD), and difficult to manage if you don’t have a plan and are uncomfortable with uncertainty.
  2. Passion. You really need a lot of energy to be an entrepreneur, because you will work harder and longer than you ever would for anyone else. And, people, i.e., future customers, are attracted to passion, so the more you have, the greater the likelihood that someone will want to buy what you are selling.
  3. Vision.  A clear picture of where you are going can inspire the people you sell to and the people you employ. Don’t start a business without it!
  4. Self Awareness. Knowing what you are good at and what you aren’t means you are quicker to get help when you need it and won’t let your ego get in the way.
  5. Ego. You better have a healthy belief in yourself, because when you are starting out, for every person who encourages you, there are plenty of people willing to explain in great detail why you won’t succeed. Whatever their reasons and motivations, a strong ego helps you shake off the negativity and move forward. (And again, self awareness means you can take the kernel of truth from the naysayers and incorporate it into your plan.)
  6. Persistence. There are few overnight successes. Monty Hall had it right when he said, “Actually, I am an overnight success, but it took 20 years!”

There you have it, a few qualities that most entrepreneurs I know seem to share. Anyone have some to add?