The Top 10 Entrepreneurial Qualities

What are qualities that one needs to be an entrepreneur who SUCCEEDS and ENDURES? Initially, it is a higher than average degree of self-confidence, drive, results orientation and focused vision that leads to entrepreneurial success. Ultimately, it is the softer side, the people side, and the influential side that allows the entrepreneur to maintain their success.

1. Patience: One of the greatest challenges that entrepreneurs face is the lack of understanding and appreciation as to why others don’t think and act the way they do. They simply don’t have patience when others think and act differently but the work of others is critical to their enduring success. Chill. Display patience. Adjust expectations. Reward efforts as well as results.

2. Trust: Entrepreneurs have tremendous belief, faith and trust in their own abilities. It is essential, however, that they trust, sincerely and whole-heartedly in their people. Entrepreneurs must be willing to let others perform at their level, with their own style. If the right people are selected and are provided the right training and direction, it is necessary to trust that they will get the job done.

3. Influence: When it comes to management style, people either manage by power, authority or influence. Power and authority result in short-term wins but it is the ability to influence (motivate, inspire, lead by example) that provides long-term results.

4. Self-awareness: The most successful entrepreneurs have a heightened understanding of self-awareness which manifests on two levels. The first is of themselves (who they are). The second and perhaps more important, is the understanding of the behavioral requirements of their position (who they need to be to get the job done). It is this understanding that allows entrepreneurs to truly manage the GAP that exists between who they are and who they need to be.

5. Strategic Vision: Having a strategic vision is largely a gift of personality. People typically come in two flavors. Some have more of a Generalist personality (big picture, visionary, strategic). Others are more of a Specialist (expert, detail oriented and tactical). The Specialist typically flourishes when able to deal within their areas of expertise. The Generalist must provide the framework of tactical structure for the Specialist. The Generalist has to turn off the vision long enough to focus on the tactical.

6. Accountability: The most successful entrepreneurs have a strong system of accountability where they define the metrics necessary to hold both their employees, as well as themselves, more accountable. If you can’t measure it… you can’t manage it!

7. Education: 100+ hours per year seems to be the magic number. Successful entrepreneurs invest more than 100 hours each year in educating themselves. This includes peer-to-peer learning, seminars, professional coaching and higher education. This figure does not include the time they spent reading business related material, magazines, web content and journals. This amounts to another 75+ hours per year.

8. Peer-to-Peer Learning and Professional Coaching: Vistage, EO, YPO, Edward Lowe Foundation, “20 groups” are only a few of the professional peer-to-peer groups that are designed to assist the entrepreneur in their education and learning process. Some organizations have paid professional facilitators that conduct one-on-one meetings with the entrepreneur. The purpose is to coach the entrepreneur to new heights. Those that avail themselves to these programs grow and prosper far quicker and accomplish more.

9. Innovative vs. Creative: These elements also take on a personality slant. Creativity seems to come largely from analytical capacity which is also our source of imagination. Those that are highly “dominant” seem to have a greater level of innovation, or the ability to take the ideas of others and find additional application and opportunity. As an example, Xerox created the mouse and Apple was the innovator that turned it into a more marketable product.

10. That Personality Stuff: We have discussed self-awareness and the GAP that exists between who we are and who we need to be. Ideal entrepreneurs are assertive, aggressive, highly results oriented, good collaborators, consensus builders, team builders, driven, multi-task and handle pressure well, independent and strong willed. According to the book "The Entrepreneur Next Door," these people have a “Go-Getter” personality.

Original work by Bill Wagner, author of "The Entrepreneur Next Door."


For nearly twenty years, Bill Wagner has been at the forefront of entrepreneurial practice and is now a consultant, speaker and author in the entrepreneurial arena. His firm, Accord Management Systems, Inc., is a behavioral consultancy specializing in the metrics which measure the people side of business. From selection to succession, the company offers a series of interrelated surveys and services designed to improve employee performance and financial success. Bill’s speaking engagements pl...

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