9 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Over my 30+ years in business and 12+ years working with entrepreneurs and small business owners at GMR Web Team, I have run into hundreds of successful, not-so-successful and failed entrepreneurs. Based on my observations, I want to share 9 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that I have noticed throughout my career.

By successful, I mean entrepreneurs with businesses that have growing sales and profit and are long-lasting (aren’t looking for the “quick buck” or fast exit). Read this carefully if you are looking to build a successful company and be sure to address any weaknesses that you see.

1. Purpose
– You need to decide what the purpose of your business is before you even start. Hint – it can’t just be “make money." You will ONLY make money if you are providing a value to someone who is happy to conduct business with you. You should be proud of and excited about the core value of your business. People that are truly passionate about their business, the products and services they are offering, and the help they are providing are almost always the most successful ones.

2. Persistence
– You will go through ups and down when you are starting and growing your business. Most successful entrepreneurs and business owners have to overcome obstacles in order to continue pursuing their goals. Starting with a clear purpose will help you stay on course when things do not go well. You’ve all heard the famous examples of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump, who all failed miserably multiple times in their companies, but were ultimately successful. The same could be true for seven-figure business owners who may be your next-door neighbor.

3. Customer Focus
– Never forget that you will be successful only if your customers love your product or service. Typically, this means part of your purpose or passion should be doing the best you can for your own clients and aiding in their success – whatever that may be. Get constant feedback from customers, keep an eye on review sites like Yelp, G+ etc. and make changes to keep improving your customers’ satisfaction with your company.

4. Employee Focus
– As you grow your business, you will eventually need to hire help. Happy employees make for a happy company, which makes for happy customers. I am assuming that you are a nice boss, so hiring the right people is most important. Make sure the job fits employee aspirations, because paying higher wages will not automatically result in happy employees.

5. No or Few Investors
– Successful businesses typically need to make changes on a dime, and investors in your company will slow down your decision and growth process. Investors are typically interested in higher return on their investment rather than the growth of the company. Angel and venture investors are the worst because all they typically care for is the exit, rather than a long lasting, viable, purpose-filled company. If you absolutely need investors, I prefer investments from friends and family members who are more interested in your success than getting the highest return on their investment.

6. Profit
– A profitable company is an indication of your success in delivering customers a superior value for their money. Lack of profit suggests that your customers do not value your product or service well enough to pay you a reasonable price for it.

7. Consistent Growth
– Successful businesses tend to consistently grow at a steady pace rather than fluctuate with high/low/no growth year after year. Jim Collins, author of the bestselling book Good to Great, found that 20% sustained annual growth is the best indicator of a successful long-lasting company.

8. Innovation
– As you move steadily through your entrepreneurial journey, you will need to evolve and innovate based on changes in customer preference, technology, demand, etc. Keep thinking about how you can innovate to make your product better, with lower cost, smoother processes etc., with a focus on taking care of your customers.

9. Work on Business
– Successful entrepreneurs work on their business (introspecting, innovating, consulting with experts, new product planning) as much as they work in their business (day to day operations). You need happy employees that are right for the job to be able to work on your business.It is important that you find outside help to help stay focused on these attributes. I have noticed that entrepreneurs who started with a mastermind group or coach (typically paid) are less likely to slip. Once they grow, they develop a Board of Mentors to help them continue their growth to success.


Ajay Prasad is a serial entrepreneur, successful business strategist and an adept marketing expert who before laying the foundation of his various successful entrepreneurial ventures, served organizations ranked among the top 10 of Fortune 500 companies. His areas of expertise include marketing management, business development, consumer research, market analysis and strategic planning.

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