Seven key traits of successful entrepreneurs

Starting a new business venture is not for the faint-hearted. Like a rollercoaster, there’s plenty of anticipation and excitement as you gear up towards the big launch. Enthusiasm abounds as the business takes off, but as time goes on and the market adjusts to your presence, things get a lot tougher. These inevitable lows can be incredibly lonely.

It takes a special combination of traits to successfully navigate these ups and downs – and it might surprise you to learn that not all of these traits are positive. So what are the key traits of a successful entrepreneur?

1. Passion

Passion is the magic ingredient that elevates a good idea into something super clever. It’s impossible to distract a true entrepreneur from their idea when they are in passion mode. If taken too far, this passion can lead to an unhealthy obsession, so it’s important to keep yourself in check and maintain a balanced life.

2. Risk-taking

Although no venture is without risk, willingly putting the family home or any other major asset on the line without proper consideration is just irresponsible. Maintain a healthy fear of failure and you’re less likely to take risks that jeopardise your personal or business assets. If you are considering such a move, do some thorough soul-searching and get expert financial advice.

3. Ego

All entrepreneurs are egotistical. After all, it’s their vision – why shouldn’t it be done their way? An entrepreneur who’s not egotistical enough may compromise too often to please others, resulting in an inferior result. But things can quickly go south when an entrepreneur fails to involve the team in key decisions, is reluctant to give others credit or is insensitive to their needs. Tread carefully.

4. Emotional discipline

Keeping your cool is a great asset when it comes to a crisis, important presentation or social event. It helps you steer the ship through stormy seas. If the captain starts to panic, the passengers will too. So minimising the display of emotion is definitely a strength when it comes to business. But leaders who control their emotions too tightly can be accused of lacking empathy and failing to appreciate the feelings and concerns of others. It’s important to get the balance just right to ensure the stability of your team.

5. Charm

How could charm be anything but positive? A leader with plenty of charm is great at finding out what is on people’s minds, manoeuvring the conversation in a certain direction and leaving others feeling that they are understood. What could be better? Sadly, there is a point where manoeuvring becomes manipulating and that’s never a good thing. A successful entrepreneur knows where the line is.

6. Wit

Having a quick wit is essential. The ability to verbally dance around the most penetrating of questions will get an entrepreneur out of all sorts of situations. Wit becomes deviousness when the joke is at another’s expense, and that doesn’t look good on anyone.

7. Market knowledge

Every entrepreneur has the advantage of having researched the market for their product for the ubiquitous business plan. An enthusiasm to understand and share this knowledge is vital when attracting new customers or investors. Bore a hapless individual with a lengthy conversation about market trends, however, and your strength has just become a weakness.

All entrepreneurs have strong positive traits, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The key to finding a balance is self-awareness. Monitor your own emotions and understand how they affect you, your colleagues and your business decisions. If you can master that, you’re halfway there.

Alan Manly,, author of “The Unlikely Entrepreneur”

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