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Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? 10 characteristics to lean into

January 25, 2022 - 19 min read


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What is entrepreneurial spirit?

How to know if you have an entrepreneurial spirit

What are the 5 P's of entrepreneurship?

What are some tips for developing entrepreneurial behavior?

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit

Take the leap

In 2021, the U.S. Government received 5.4 million new business applications — a “record high,” according to NPR.

It’s hard to say how many of them will succeed. If anything, these new ventures are evidence of the strong entrepreneurial spirit in America.

But having an entrepreneurial mindset is about more than having business ideas or launching a new product. These new business leaders are taking a risk and betting on themselves to get through it.

And they’re going to need help. They’ll need people who share their growth mindset and problem-solving skills and who are ready to carve their space in a world reshaped by a pandemic.

Let’s go over the key qualities of these action-oriented, innovative individuals. Who knows — you might even recognize some of them in yourself.


What is entrepreneurial spirit?

It’s tempting to think of entrepreneurial spirit as some kind of qualification achievable through a professional development course or college program. But this simply isn’t true.

In fact, some of the most successful business people in the world didn’t even finish college. Steve Jobs famously dropped out before founding the tech behemoth known as Apple Inc. 

We’re not saying you should drop out of school. But an entrepreneurial mindset will help maximize the skills you picked up in class, and this will help your career, whether you end up owning a business or not.

While some pick up on it faster than others, everyone can develop this quality. And you can even use it in your current role.

An entrepreneurial spirit will help you take ownership of your job. It means looking at your tasks and responsibilities and asking, “How could we do this better?” 

You can create processes to work smarter or pitch new ideas that will help your organization. Before you know it, you’ll have completely reshaped your current role for the better.

Regardless of which industry you work in, BetterUp is ready to help you develop an entrepreneurial attitude. Whether you’re a small business owner, a manager, or an intern at a startup, having a growth and innovation mindset can improve your and your team's lives. We want to see you chase your goals and develop the entrepreneurial skills to help you reach them.

How to know if you have an entrepreneurial spirit

Want to deepen your understanding of what it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit? Start by getting familiar with its characteristics. 


Heads-up: Not all of these qualities are required — but they’re a good start. As you read over this list of 10 characteristics of people with an entrepreneurial spirit, you may already recognize a few within yourself.

  • Natural leaders. They have an innate ability to inspire and bring out the best in people.
  • Motivated by challenges. Every setback is an opportunity to learn, grow, and beat the odds.
  • Doers, not sayers. Talk is cheap, and entrepreneurial people know it. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
  • Quick but thoughtful when it comes to decision-making. They know how to find, process, and act on the information they trust.
  • Risk-taking people. Their optimism and fearlessness make them natural risk-takers — even if they’re uncertain about the outcome.
  • Ambitious dreamers. They aren’t happy with the status quo. True entrepreneurs have a better vision for the future and will try to make it a reality.
  • Resourceful. No amount is too little to get started. They’re ready to work with what they have until more resources come later.
  • Critical thinkers. They analyze and evaluate an issue carefully before forming a judgment.
  • Excited to learn and grow. They relish new learning opportunities because it will make them more well-rounded people and leaders.
  • Optimistic when it comes to life and work. Optimism is a prerequisite for entrepreneurship. They have to believe that things will work in their favor.

You may only identify with some of these characteristics, and that’s okay! You can nurture your entrepreneurial spirit by developing your Five Ps of Entrepreneurship.

What are the 5 P's of entrepreneurship?

As you’re looking to incorporate the general characteristics of someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, it can help to think in terms of the five Ps of entrepreneurship. As you work through your day, this framework will help you focus on what matters to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset (including spiritual entrepreneurship, which prioritizes benefiting others).  


Take a look at the five P’s of entrepreneurship. Think about how you can become more intentional about developing these dimensions in your life. Be deliberate about checking in with yourself daily to keep the five Ps top of mind and see what strategies work for you to make progress in each.

1. Planning

No matter your goal, whether it’s to start a business or implement a new initiative at work, you’ll need a plan. You’ll also need a certain tolerance for risk.

Whether it’s a business plan or a work plan, it should:

  • Have clearly-defined objectives
  • Be easy to understand
  • Allow for flexibility
  • Have a clear deadline
  • Clearly define the roles and tasks of all team members
  • Acknowledge the calculated risks involved
  • Have a plan to mitigate the risk

2. Passion

People who have an entrepreneurial spirit know their passions. 

When you know what makes you happy and excites you, it’s easier to wake up in the morning, set goals, and do the work of achieving them. With passion fueling you, every step will feel like a pleasure, not a chore.

3. Patience

When you adopt an entrepreneurial spirit, you accept that you’re in it for the long haul. You also have an undying belief that good things come to those who wait. This will help you be more resilient in the face of adversity. 

And have no doubt: there will be adversity. Whether your seed funding didn’t come through, your project proposal was rejected, or your prototype failed, you’ll need to keep the faith. These are minor setbacks in the grand story of your success. Learning how to be patient isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

4. Perseverance

Successful entrepreneurs know that failures and mistakes are part of life. But you need to meet failures with perseverance. This means:

  • Remembering why you started this journey in the first place
  • Evaluating and learning from your failures
  • Understanding that, in the grand scheme of things, most setbacks are temporary
  • Adapting your plan to accommodate your new situation

5. Problem-solving

Problems are waiting around the corner at all times. The entrepreneurial mindset welcomes issues because it presents an opportunity to face them head-on. A strong leader is never afraid to get their hands dirty for the sake of the team.

And solving problems may require help. Don't be afraid to rely on your coworkers, friends, family, and previous mentoring relationships. They can offer moral support and an outside perspective on your dilemma — invaluable assets when mulling over a big decision.

You should also make sure that you’re bringing your Whole Self to the project. Use all of your personal resources, skills, and experiences to work toward innovative ideas and solutions.

What are some tips for developing entrepreneurial behavior?

You can't develop these characteristics overnight. Shifting to an entrepreneurial mindset takes hard work and effort. Tracking your progress and staying focused on your goals makes the process much easier on your well-being. 

If you're looking to get started, here are four tips on how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. 


1. Be specific with your intentions

You hinder your growth when you're unorganized and don't know what you want to set out to achieve. To stay focused, set clear, specific goals. And make sure they’re realistic goals. You can dream big, but make sure your long-term goals are made of several, achievable short-term goals.

Zero in on your dreams through purposeful intentions and actions. Gather your resources to focus on your goal. Adopt a “doer” mindset, thinking about what you're looking to achieve.

2. Don't rely on one plan and one plan only

Embrace confidence, but not at the cost of ignoring warning signs. It's great to be unafraid of risks and view challenges as motivation, but you need to recognize when you have a severe problem.  

Some red flags are hard to ignore and may cost you later on, like if you’re approaching burnout from working too much or trying to complete tasks you don’t have skills for. 

True confidence means admitting what you don’t know, asking for help, and changing your mind based on new information.

It's never a sign of weakness to acknowledge that things aren't working. Switching to a new plan might even widen your perspective and open up new opportunities to create value or get the job done more effectively.

3. Adapt to change 

The only constant in life is “change.” People who accept this and can adapt are more likely to succeed. This fact is true even when “changes” feel more like “setbacks.” 

But adaptability is an important skill for entrepreneurs. You’ll inevitably miss deadlines, fail launches, or underestimate a direct competitor. You’ll have to use your critical thinking skills to evaluate what went wrong in these moments. Then you can look objectively at your situation for new opportunities. 

“Change” puts your problem-solving and leadership qualities to the test. Next time you face an unexpected change of plans, try your best to adapt instead of fighting it.

4. Never stop learning 

Every moment is an opportunity to learn. There’s a universe of knowledge out there, all of which can help you be a better person, leader, and entrepreneur. 

Here are some ideas to lean into your curiosity:

    • When talking to someone, ask a lot of questions. Everyone has a story. Learning theirs can help you develop your empathy and gain insights you might have missed otherwise.
    • Read biographies of your favorite people. They always have wisdom and lessons to share. See which ones you can apply to your life.
    • Listen to podcasts about your industry during your morning commute. If you lead a busy lifestyle, keeping track of your industry can be difficult. Luckily, podcasts provide an easy format for you to consume while doing other things.
    • Keep up with the daily news. Your work exists in the context of world events. Keeping up will help you track situations that could affect you — even for five minutes with your coffee.
    • Find people on LinkedIn whom you’d like to learn from. Social media is the modern Rolodex. Make time to expand your contacts and learn from your new connections.
    • Develop new skills. Countless online workshops and courses can help you expand your skills. This will make you a more valuable asset in the long run.

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit

An entrepreneurial mindset never stays still — it’s constantly looking for the next opportunity or challenge. But, like the most beautiful plants, it needs fertile soil to grow. 

You need to configure your life appropriately if you want your spirit to thrive. And along the way, you can inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in others. Here’s what you can do.

1. Maintain an innovation-friendly work culture

Whether you’re a leader or an employee, teamwork makes the dream work. It’s important to facilitate a positive and collaborative work environment.

You can start by facilitating the open exchange of ideas. Create a space where everyone can share their insights, lessons learned, and experiences. You’ll spark interesting discussions, which can lead to creative solutions and new approaches to your work. Plus, you’ll inspire each other to grow and be better.

2. Always pull in the same direction

Yes, it’s important to be adaptable and open to change. But it’s even more important to have a general strategic direction, or else you risk being pulled off course.

You should always start with a plan — even if you have to change it later. And you should loop in your team every step of the way. When everyone knows the goal, they can work together to achieve it.

3. Avoid making decisions out of fear

The world is rife with risk and uncertainty. These days, that feels more true than ever. It makes sense to proceed cautiously, carefully evaluating your next move before committing. 

But it’s important not to give in to fear. It’ll cloud your judgment and take away your view of the big picture.

Entrepreneurship involves accepting a certain degree of risk. Evaluate every decision carefully, calculate your risk, and execute with confidence. You might fail, but you will have learned something. But, you might also succeed — and all the work will have been worth it.


Take the leap

Whether you’re running your own business, working your way up the ladder, or planning your next job hop, an entrepreneurial spirit can help you lean into challenges and change. 

Cultivating this mindset will shift how you approach the world, growing as a more action-oriented and innovative person.

New mindsets and behaviors don’t just happen. They require focus and effort to consciously change how you see yourself and the events around you. But an entrepreneur isn’t afraid of hard work and commitment — neither are you.

Adopting an entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t mean your values and interests have to change. You’re still yourself. It just means that you’ll be better equipped to chase down your passions and goals in life. With an entrepreneurial spirit, no goal is too far out of reach. 

At BetterUp, we want you to be your best. ​​Through a relationship with a BetterUp coach or mentor, you can gain the perspective and accountability to develop your own entrepreneurial spirit.

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Published January 25, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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