11 Traits That Show You’re An Entrepreneur

The other day I read an article that made me think about the things that make entrepreneurs who they are (& really made me smile too). They are a curious bunch, never seem to not fit in & a million other things. But what are some of the core things that make for a successful & able entrepreneur with lasting power?


Image Credit: David Levitz on Flickr

Image Credit: David Levitz on Flickr

1) Flexibility 

Many times your ideas & strategies will meet with unexpected dynamics, forcing you to find ways to adapt in order to keep going. Blackberry’s strategy of only producing QWERTY keypad cellphones nearly drove them to the ground when touch screen cellphones took off. Only after acquiescing to touch screen technology (among other things) are they beginning to rebound. You have to be willing to adapt to unexpected situations and use them to your advantage, in order to keep going.

2) Risk Taking

Entrepreneurship has once been likened to jumping off a cliff without a parachute and being expected to grow wings before you fall. Business is in many ways a gamble & it takes a risk taker (calculated risk, but still a risk never the less) to navigate business waters.

There are periods where things are relatively calm and predictable but majority of your business experience will be spent between flying the blue skies or standing at the edge of the cliff.  If you can’t stand taking / managing risk then you would do well to not be an entrepreneur. Risk is the pillow on which the entrepreneur rests his head.

3) Ability to tackle challenges

It always seems like 70% of the time in business is spent averting a crisis one way or another. Challenges abound in every corner in business & facing them and solving them is a core task for an entrepreneur.  One needs to have a certain degree of mettle to tackle them head on. Having a mentor to lend a helping hand gained from experience in similar challenges is one great way of tackling them.

4) Leadership

Business is all about pulling the factors of production together to create value. Your job will involve managing people in your business. To get the best out of your workers, you have to learn how to provide leadership and vision in order to achieve the set objectives.

It’s not just about issuing orders but being able to know how to coax the best out of your team and how to get them through a set back. You don’t have to be a born leader, but you do need to posses a degree of being able to co-ordinate people towards a common vision.

5) Ability to study the market

An entrepreneur always thinks of the medium & long term goals of the business. You have to be one who studies trends, market behaviors etc to see what the future might possibly be. This is crucial if you’re going to keep being relevant & adapt to the changing needs of your business environment to stay ahead of the curve. All the Vanderbilts and Rockerfellers highly treasured this art. They wouldn’t have survived without it and neither will you.

6) Self-control

This is a tough one! Entrepreneurs need to have a healthy degree of restraint to guide them during intense situations. High running emotions can cause you to mess up a very good opportunity / relationship or lead you towards poor judgment. You need to be able to stay clear headed & gain the skill of not making decisions when you’re in an emotional high or low. No one wants to get in business with a partner who cant’t control their impulses.

Image Credit: @Saigon on Flickr

Image Credit: @Saigon on Flickr

7) Unbridled passion

This point has probably been beaten to a pulp but it’s true. Passion for your business is what drives the entrepreneur. In tough times when you can’t see the next step, in those times where things seems to have plagued and in those times where everyday seems to herald extra productivity, passion is what will keep you going. Passion will keep you pushing against the wall before the door of opportunity opens up to your idea / business. Without passion you will not make it into the long term in business.

8) Be a dreamer

Entrepreneurs are creators of products, services mad opportunities and creators are dreamers. Being able to have a vision, carry it through against all odds and bring it to fruition is an inescapable part the entrepreneur’s DNA.  If you’re not a dreamer, you’re not going to keep your passion fueled for long and you’ll find yourself struggling to keep going.

9) Not afraid to ask for help

True entrepreneurs know that they don’t know it all and a mark of their diligence is not afraid to seek counsel, outside expertise etc from a trusted source. They know that if you don’t know it, find out who does and seek to learn from them. No one can do it all and if you’re not into seeking help, you will fail.

10) Ability to embrace failure

Every entrepreneur knows that failure is an inevitable part of business. Nothing goes absolutely as planned. Not being afraid to fail, being able to accept it and learning to adapt to failure without long mopping sessions is critical in recovering from set backs. This doesn’t mean that you don’t mourn over the hurt that failure brings. It means that as you nurse your wounds, you work on getting back up and keep going.

11) Strong work ethic

One common business joke is that employed people become entrepreneurs to start waking up at 7am instead of 5am, only to find that as the business owner you never sleep! Running a business lays a lot of demands on you and even with delegation, you still bear a good chunk of the work load. If you’re leaving your day job to have more time to yourself, keep your day job. An entrepreneur never signs out.


Whether you’re a business mogul running a vast empire, an entrepreneur at the SME level or just a shopkeeper (or as we’d say here in Kenya, a mama mboga), get into the habit of identifying & cultivating these (& other relevant) traits and the entrepreneur in you will do just fine.

Victor Muthoka

Lover of God, children & arts, Apple fanboy, Amazon kindle die hard, closet geek, tech enthusiast, entrepreneur, tree hugger and a voracious reader

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