Learn the traits of success

Posted 6/18/12

So you want to start a business of your own and be an entrepreneur. Have you got game? The qualities it takes to be a successful entrepreneur are often misunderstood. It’s much more of a personal game than most people realize. Some people really aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs. They feel more comfortable working a traditional job where vision, strategy and resources are all in place.

Here are six essential qualities that make a successful entrepreneur today. Keep them in mind as you think about starting or building your business:

Quality No. 1: Successful entrepreneurs have a clear vision.

Vision is about developing clarity and purpose around your business goals. Ask yourself: What are my aspirations for this business idea? Be careful. It’s not about growth rates or revenue. The vision Steve Jobs had for Apple was about building a better computer. It wasn’t about the money. Successful entrepreneurs are able to describe where they are headed with clarity and focus. Fuzzy vision won’t fly.

Quality No. 2: Successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers and innovators.

But here again, watch out. Many would-be entrepreneurs think risk is about gambling, Las Vegas-style. It’s not. Entrepreneurs take calculated risks, weighing the pros and cons before they act. But they move quickly to make their decisions and then act on them.

Quality No. 3: Successful entrepreneurs are passionate.

This is another way of saying that successful entrepreneurs are driven. They ask probing questions to glean critical information about their market and how what they offer will be different from everyone else. And they will tell anyone willing to listen to them why they’ll succeed. This quality also helps entrepreneurs be successful team-builders because people want to follow them.

Quality No. 4: Successful entrepreneurs can spot opportunities.

In fact, the essence of entrepreneurship is the ability to spot an opportunity and act on it. It’s not easy, and it requires seeing solutions that others haven’t seen. But having a “concept” or a business plan won’t matter if the opportunity isn’t rock-solid.

Quality No. 5: Successful entrepreneurs don’t fear failure.

It’s hard to find successful entrepreneurs who haven’t tasted failure. What makes them different is how fast they picked themselves up and moved on, and what they learned from failing. Great entrepreneurs turn each failure into a portal of discovery.

Quality No. 6: Successful entrepreneurs have a sense of urgency.

They want everything done yesterday, understanding that speed – especially in today’s world – is often critical to success. •

Daniel Kehrer can be reached at

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