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The 8 characteristics vital for becoming an entrepreneur

April 14, 2022 - 15 min read

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What is an entrepreneur?

The 4 types of entrepreneurs

What are the qualities of a great entrepreneur?

5 common mistakes to avoid as an entrepreneur.

Improve your entrepreneurial skills

Are you ready to build the future?


It all starts with an idea. 

You’ve been working the nine-to-five for years, but you feel like you’ve stopped growing. You’re grateful for the people who helped you grow, but you want to use your skills in your own business venture. You know you have entrepreneur characteristics, but you might not know where to start. 

Starting a company can be intimidating. You may need to take out a loan, lease a commercial property, or hire staff. The details can feel overwhelming

That said, the right person will thrive in this environment. They have the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to make it happen. They’ll feel more at peace running their own company than they ever would in an office job.


What is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is someone passionate and innovative who creates a new business. Their business doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel — your favorite neighborhood café is a business, too — but it takes an entrepreneurial mindset to bring their ideas to life. 

Entrepreneurship is all about pursuing opportunities. It’s about looking for areas to provide a service or a new product the public might need. It’s also about taking the initiative to bring your ideas to life. 

For example, in the 1970s, Steve Jobs noticed computers were popular among hobbyists but inaccessible to the average consumer. He saw an untapped market with huge potential — he just needed to create user-friendly products. From the Apple 1 computer to the iPod, he did exactly that. His company become one of the most profitable businesses in the world.

At their core, entrepreneurs are individuals who start a business. On a deeper level, however, they are also people who innovate. They see challenges and think of creative ways to overcome them. They have a desire to go off the beaten path. Entrepreneurs fill society with new ideas and keep refreshing and revitalizing the old ones.

When we think of an entrepreneur, we might think of big names like Henry Ford or Bill Gates. But you don’t have to found a Fortune 500 company to walk in their shoes. Rather, it’s about the mindset. Someone who starts a business is comfortable with discomfort. They value their independence, and they plan for the future.

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The 4 types of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs come in many forms, whether they yearn for independence or to disrupt the status quo. Here are some common types of self-starters you might run into:

1. The inventor

This person wants to create the next big thing. They can imagine products or business ideas that don’t exist yet — and work to bring them into reality. Think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. These two people understood what computers could do and helped invent the ubiquitous products of today.

2. The small business owner

Small business entrepreneurs employ less than 500 workers. These people operate everything from small consultancies to popular local restaurants. They understand the value of hard work and leading a talented team of employees. 

3. The online entrepreneur 

Whether it’s a side-hustle or a full-time job, these entrepreneurs make the Internet work for them. They might sell products on Etsy, maintain a popular financial blog, or develop software to distribute online. But no matter what, they have a direct relationship with clients through their online business. 

4. The home business owner

These people use their home as their home base. A family plumbing business might use their home garage to store equipment. On the other hand, an artisan soap maker could use the basement as their production line. These people make their space work for them.


What are the qualities of a great entrepreneur?

Starting a new business comes with an inherent amount of risk. You can do everything right, but external events could lead to a negative outcome. While there’s no formula for entrepreneurship, there are good or bad entrepreneur characteristics. 

For example, failing to own up to your mistake is a bad one. Staying disciplined is a good one. BetterUp can help you develop the leadership skills to motivate others and the personal skills to stay focused, healthy, and on track with your goals.

Here are some skills you need to set yourself up to have the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: 

1. Discipline

The number one quality of an entrepreneur is self-discipline. You need to do the work — even when you don’t feel like it. 

If you have a day job, this could mean working long hours. You'll need the self-motivation to wake up early or sleep late as you start your new venture. 

2. Curiosity

The best entrepreneurs always want to learn more. They ask many questions and look for opportunities to grow themselves and their business. These people don’t dwell on what they think they know. Rather, they change their opinions when new information is presented. Curious to learn is just part of how they approach the world. 


3. Creativity 

This is the spark that drives many successful startups. Creativity isn't just for creatives, it's a skill that everyone can cultivate. Entrepreneurs always look for creative ways to solve problems or deliver a service, often with limited resources. They look in many different places for inspiration. 

Find what gives you ideas and use it as your fuel. To cultivate this skill, lean on habits that support creativity. It could be music, meditation, or meeting new people. 

4. Willingness to try things

Experimentation and risk-taking are crucial to the entrepreneurial mindset. Be ready to try new things, and be ready to watch them fail. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve on your ideas. 

However, plan your experiments carefully so that you can get useful learning fast. Try showing your product to a trusted group of friends, read market research to see if there’s adequate demand, and stay up-to-date on the latest news in your industry. These strategies will help you take calculated risks as you try new things.

5. Honesty

In the business world, you’re only as good as your word. Honesty and integrity are important characteristics for any leader. These personality traits will reap several benefits:

  • You will develop a reputation as a strong and honest communicator.
  • Your employees will value your leadership.
  • Clients will know you can deliver on your promises.
  • People will be more willing to lend you money for your next idea.
  • Your community will support you during the tough times.

6. Always having a plan

Successful businesses leave little up to chance. They look far into the future, with backup plans to adapt to unexpected events.

You should have a vision for your company 5-10 years from now. To bring that vision to life, you can use the SMART method to set short and long-term business goals. 

These are goals that are:

  • Specific: What is the exact outcome you’re hoping for?
  • Measurable: How will you know you achieved this outcome?
  • Achievable: Is it reasonable for you to expect to achieve this goal?
  • Realistic: Can you arrive at your goal with your current resources?
  • Time-Bound: Do you have a clear deadline for your goal?

Each goal should build on the last, bringing you closer to your vision closer to reality. 

Also, remember that a lot can change over the years. You’re allowed to adjust your plan if needed.

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7. Understanding the value of self-care

Great leaders understand that exhaustion and overwork are a recipe for disaster. They may have all the skills in the world. But, without proper wellness, they won’t be able to execute. Budgeting time for self-care will pay you back tenfold.

The same philosophy applies to your employees. Make sure they understand the value of their work and encourage them to rest when they need it. They will pay you back with a positive attitude and stronger work ethic.

8. Taking risks

Risk takers often do well as business leaders. But you should be clear on your approach, and have a backup plan ready to go should things go awry. 

This is a characteristic of a good entrepreneur because business owners often need to go off the beaten path. This can be scary but entrepreneurs must set aside their fears and take the leap needed to make their vision come to life.

5 common mistakes to avoid as an entrepreneur

It’s easy to make mistakes if this is your first time launching a business, but maybe we can help you avoid a few. Here are some things to look out for.

1. Stick to your budget

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re starting out. Be careful not to blow your budget too quickly. Stick to the essentials for now, like hiring the right staff, investing in the right tools, and building out your client list. The rest will come later.

2. Make smart hiring decisions

Your business will thrive or die based on who you hire. Choose your employees wisely. Look for people who share your entrepreneurial mindset and have experience working at a new business. 

It’s also useful to find people who have different expertise than you to cover any of your blindspots.

3. Set achievable goals

Don’t expect to make the NASDAQ in your first year. Set achievable goals when you’re starting out. Stick the to SMART method we outlined above.

4. Don’t forget to delegate

You hired great people. Use them! Many entrepreneurs don't know how to delegate to others or they're afraid to. Consider whether you need to own a task. You can't control everything so only keep the most important ones.

Assign tasks based on others' strengths, set clear expectations, and check in with them regularly. They’re your team and they will deliver.

Otherwise, you risk overworking yourself.

5. Avoid making decisions out of fear

Clear your head before making big decisions. Emotions like fear, anger, or frustration can cloud your judgment. 

When you encounter a stressful situation, take a step back, be mindful of your feelings, and approach the problem later with a clear mind.


Improve your entrepreneurial skills

Modern leaders need an increasingly long list of managerial skills. Here’s what you should work on as you develop your business:

Are you ready to build the future?

You might have the seed of an idea — but now it’s time to water it. BetterUp can help you sharpen your business skills, build your confidence and personal capacity, and set tangible goals to make your dreams into reality. 

With careful training, planning, and execution, you can watch your idea grow into a successful business. Before you know it, customers will be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

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Published April 14, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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