What Makes an Entrepreneur? 10 Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs

Mar 31, 2017

90% of startups are destined to fail. 

Some of the reasons these businesses fail, such as lack of focus, bad business model and lack of passion among team members, are symptoms of inadequate founder leadership.

The one startup that succeeds does so for two main reasons: offering a product that the market needs and a great entrepreneur at the helm!

As such, the entrepreneurial qualities of a founder play a vital role in shaping the destiny of a business.

But which are these qualities that set successful entrepreneurs from those who don’t hit it big?

Keep reading to learn what makes an entrepreneur.


1. Ability to Turn Failure Into Success

Thomas A. Edison, an American inventor and entrepreneur of the 1900s famously said, “I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

It’s in that quote that we find one of the most important skills of a successful entrepreneur; the will to keep trying after failure.

Make no mistake, failure can hit you hard where it hurts the most.

If you’re not a resilient person, it’s easy to roll down your sleeves and give up. But successful entrepreneurs don’t call it a day no matter how hard they fall or how many times they fail.

Bill Gates, one of the richest persons on the planet, is an example of an entrepreneur who failed before launching himself into the big time.

While many people know him for Microsoft, what they don’t know him for is Traf-O-Data, a company that he founded with Paul Allen.

The reason you probably don’t know Traf-O-Data is because it failed. Had Gates given up, perhaps Microsoft wouldn’t be in existence today.


2. Knowing When to Quit

You see, being persistent doesn’t mean you keep doing the same thing regardless of the number of times you fail.

Knowing when to call it quits is what makes an entrepreneur.

As a budding entrepreneur, part of what you love doing is exploring new markets to find new business opportunities.

However, not all opportunities will turn into successful businesses. But you can’t know which opportunity will grow into an empire if you don’t try them all out, right?

If you know when to quit, you will be able to identify opportunities that are leading you nowhere and shift your focus to other opportunities.


3. Self-Confidence

To be a successful entrepreneur, you must not only believe in your abilities but also be able to handle criticism from the people around you. Not everyone will share your vision, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.

How else can you reach for the sky if you let what other people say get into your head? Great entrepreneurs are obsessed with validating their ideas in the marketplace, even if others fear it won’t work.

The good thing is that you can boost your self-confidence by surrounding yourself with positive people and even taking self-confidence courses.


4. Ability to Invent

Yes, there is a stark difference between inventors and entrepreneurs.

While inventors come up with ideas that lead to the creation of processes or products, entrepreneurs turn ideas into business empires.

That said, what do billionaires Bill Gates, Michael S. Dell, Larry Ellison and Sergey Brin (the list can go on) have in common besides their billions?

You got it right. They’ve all invented or innovated a product or service!

Of course, there are exceptions. Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett haven’t innovated anything, but they’ve built wildly successful businesses.

What’s the point here?

Even though you don’t need to be an inventor or innovator to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ve better chances of making it big when you have the two skill sets.


5. Ability to Network

Can you count the number of times you have seen Bill Gates and Warren Buffett together?

We bet you can’t! They even play bridge together on occasion!

What does that tell you about the networking abilities of the two entrepreneurs? Of course, it’s easy to strike a rapport with other people when you’re a billionaire, but don’t take away anything from their ability to reach out and get along.

The ability to network is what makes an entrepreneur move out of his or her comfort zone and build connections with other people.

Through networking, you can connect with top leaders in your industry, establish business contacts and gain access to events that can develop you professionally.


6. Frugality/Money Management


You need strong money management skills. Better still, you need to lead a frugal lifestyle!

Did you know Warren Buffett still lives in Omaha, Nebraska, in the same house he purchased for $31,500 back in 1958?

They say money changes people, but for some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, money isn’t necessarily a means to the finest things on earth.

You don’t have to live like a pauper, but practicing sound money management is what makes an entrepreneur successful and can help keep a business thriving.


7. A Good Appetite for Risk

There’s nothing wrong if you can’t handle the adrenaline that comes with taking a gamble.

To be a successful entrepreneur, though, you should be able to take calculated risks.

Some of the richest entrepreneurs made their money by making big bets on risky ventures, which paid off in kind!

You may be very good at hunting for new opportunities, but if you are afraid of taking risks, you have little chance of turning them into big businesses.

An appetite for risk is particularly useful for equity investors. They have to take a gamble on businesses whose future performance is unknown.

More often than not, risk is what lies between opportunity and success.

Were it not for his risk-loving nature, Warren Buffett, who bought his first shares at the age of 11, probably wouldn’t be the investor he is today.


8. Passion and Hard Work

Whether they are into real estate, equity investing, technology or hospitality, successful entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do.

They are always excited to talk about their businesses, products or services. They also aren’t afraid to tell the world the extremes they go to satisfy their passions.  

Richard Branson, for instance, is so passionate about space and flying that he wants to develop commercial flights to outer space. Can you imagine catching a flight to space?

However, passion alone doesn’t get the work done.

Great entrepreneurs combine passion with hard work and determination to pull off the results they want.

You’ve certainly heard or read stories of successful business people. They typically go to bed late and wake up very early. The long hours are spent in their companies, ever working to grow their business and make a difference. 


10. A Mastery of Work-Life Balance

Work hard enough, but don’t work yourself to death!

It’s okay to put in the long hours at work in pursuit of your entrepreneurial goals. However, hard work without play has consequences.

You risk burning out, and when that happens, you can only go so far.

The modern successful entrepreneur knows how to strike the right balance between work and life. He or she isn’t shy to take a week off from work to cool off and spend time with family.


10. Good Understanding of the Law

Businesses are regulated by government authorities.

Entrepreneurs must ensure their companies are compliant with various business and tax regulations or risk being slapped with lawsuits and fines.

With a good understanding of relevant laws, an entrepreneur is able to start and register a company without running into hitches.

Those who have a fine grasp of the tax regulations are also able to maximize tax breaks and maximize the value of their businesses.

No wonder many successful entrepreneurs are known to surround themselves with a team of smart business advisers!



No single quality or skill makes an entrepreneur.

You need a combination of these qualities to find opportunities, conquer challenges and build successful businesses.

If you are looking to take the leap and start your entrepreneurial journey you can always use our Free NUANS Preliminary Search to search for any business name ideas you may have.

Free NUANS Preliminary Search
Free NUANS Preliminary Search
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