Business Management / Leadership

7 traits an entrepreneur must possess

Dave Vest

Updated: Dec 11, 2023 · 5 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

entrepreneurs traits

It takes a special person to be an entrepreneur. Starting a business from scratch includes many challenges, and the undertaking isn't for those who can’t embrace a lifestyle of ups and downs, swings and misses, and wins and losses.

There’s a myth surrounding entrepreneurship that only those who are highly-educated, accomplished and refined venture into this domain. But, according to a CNBC/Survey Monkey survey, just 26% of small business owners said they had earned a bachelor’s degree, and only 17% even went to college. Furthermore, 5% reported that they didn’t graduate high school.

As an editor for, trust me when I tell you that we’ve published thousands of blogs written specifically for entrepreneurs to help them learn how to build and/or sustain a successful small business. It’s a robust library that covers all aspects of running a start-up in today’s complex digital age.

But before one tackles that challenge, it’s important for a wannabe entrepreneur to conduct a simple, yet comprehensive assessment of self to make sure they have what it takes for what’s to come once the small business is launched—and the headaches and sleepless nights start coming! In other words, a potential small business owner needs to discover if they’re the type of person that can handle the turbulent journey that awaits them. With that in mind, here are seven essential character traits that entrepreneurs must possess to be successful (listed alphabetically):

1. Must be adventurous

Do you like jumping out of airplanes? How about running and diving into the ocean without feeling the water temperature first? Or, even better, how about chugging a sip of milk from a carton three days after the expiration date has passed? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re clearly an adventurer and risk taker. That spirit is much needed for an entrepreneur because each day will likely bring fresh and unexpected challenges and obstacles.

2. Must be confident

There is no greater asset in life than self-confidence, and entrepreneurs without it likely will fail.

As Marci G. Fox wrote in Psychology Today: “Confidence is essential to making it in life. It enables us to reach for our goals, try new things, and stand independently. It protects us from stress and equips us to face life's challenges. Confidence comes from believing in yourself. It comes from recognizing that you are your greatest resource!”

Bravo Dr. Fox.

3. Must be courageous

This goes hand in hand with adventurousness, but with regards to entrepreneurship it applies mostly to being unafraid of failure. Businesses fail all the time. Per recent statistics, one in five that were started in January of this year will be closed by December. Not enough demand, poor management and an inability to grow are just some of the many reasons for this. But an entrepreneur can’t be afraid of failure. If they are, the battle is half lost before the business even opens.

As author John Green wrote in An Abundance of Katherines: “What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?”

4. Must be decisive

Procrastination can kill a small business. Thanks to research and planning, plus a smidge of intuition, a successful entrepreneur identifies and understands what needs to be done on a daily basis and doesn't hesitate to make decisions. Those who do often allow opportunities to get away.

In other words, entrepreneurs subscribe to the carpe diem mentality.

5. Must be diligent

Hard work pays off, and it’s required of all entrepreneurs. So is passion with a strong resemblance to obsession. Whether you’re a solopreneur or employ 25 workers, the pull of business demands is always there. They must be met. The key is to develop a work-life balance.

6. Must be optimistic

Is a glass half full of water or is it half empty? If your answer is the latter, you’ll likely struggle as an entrepreneur.

Positive thinking. Some believe if you learn to harness the power of it, you’ll attract more positive circumstances. That can come in handy as you attempt to build a business.

Why not us? It’s a popular catchphrase of underdog teams in the world of sports. But it can also be applied to an entrepreneur as it plants a seed for success.

7. Must be resilient

There will be setbacks and failures, and mistakes will be made. Successful entrepreneurs refuse to quit as soon as they hit an obstacle. Instead, they confront it, remove it from their path and continue on their way.

An entrepreneur must have a thick skin in today’s world of social media, and the role it plays in customer reviews. Unhappy consumers can be mean when voicing their assessment of a small business and/or its owner. Those who are easily offended or disturbed by criticism, either constructive or mean-spirited, need not apply to the entrepreneur fraternity.

Final thought

So, there you have it. If you’re considering leaving the comforts of a secure job, where you earn a stable salary and benefits—while also earning profits for somebody else—make sure it’s the right career path for your personality. If the seven traits listed above don’t describe you, then think twice before you quit your day job for the life of an entrepreneur.

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