The 15 Characteristics That Make You An Effective Entrepreneur

Passionate. Dedicated. Optimistic.

These words can apply to entrepreneurs. But insecure and trouble-maker are also accurate, according to many who know a success when they see one. You might be an entrepreneur if the following traits describe you:

1. You take action. Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group and co-star of TV’s Shark Tank, says people who have a concept but not a detailed strategy are more likely to have that special entrepreneurial ability. Corcoran’s recommendation? Invent as you go, rather than spending time writing a plan at your desk.

2. You’re insecure. “Many entrepreneurs are really secure underneath,” Corcoran says. Those who are nervous about failing can become hyper-focused on success. If you feel insecure, use that emotion to drive you to achieve your business goals.

3. You’re crafty. “One of my favourite TV shows growing up was MacGyver,” says Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Because he never had exactly the resources he needed, but would somehow figure out how to make everything work out. Hsieh says he admires MacGyver’s creativity, optimism and street smarts. It’s not about having enough resources, but being resourceful with what you do have.

4. You’re obsessed with cashflow. “All I ever thought about was cash flow and liquidity,” says Joe Gustafson, founder of Brainshark. You need cash to fight the battle one more day, even if you have the best company in the world.

True entrepreneurs are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission.

5. You get into hot water. Stephane Bourque, founder and CEO of Incognito Software, says “True entrepreneurs are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo, he says. Bourque says, “I wish my employees would get into more trouble, because it shows they’re on the lookout for opportunities to improve.”

6. You’re fearless. “Where most avoid risk, entrepreneurs see potential,” says chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible. “In some ways,” he says, “entrepreneurs are the ultimate optimists, because they operate under the belief that their investments of time and money will eventually pay off.”

7. You can’t sit still. Entrepreneurs have unbridled energy that fuels them long past the time when their employees have gone home. They’re eager, excited and energized about business in a way that makes them stand out.

8. You’re malleable. “If you have only one acceptable outcome in mind, your chances of making it are slim,” cautions Rosemary Camposano, president and CEO of Halo Blow Dry Bars. Smart entrepreneurs consistently evolve, tweaking their business concepts in response to market feedback.

9. You enjoy navel gazing. “Entrepreneurs need to be comfortable with the process of evaluating their own performance,” says Laura Novak Meyer, owner of Little Nest Portraits. Little Nest surveys every client to ask for opportunities for improvement and Meyer has worked closely with a business coach to identify personal areas where she needs to improve.

10. You’re motivated by challenges. “When confronted by problems, entrepreneurs rise to the occasion. Challenges motivate them to work harder,” says Jeff Platt, CEO of the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park franchise. Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, agrees. Despite naysayers, who questioned her idea of a bakery in the midst of the carb-fearing early 2000s, she persevered, and now has locations in eight states.

11. You consider yourself an outsider. “Entrepreneurs aren’t always accepted,” says Vincent Petryk, founder of JP Licks, a chain of ice cream shops. “They are often rejected for being different in some way. And that just makes them work harder,” he says. Rather than copying what most ice cream shops were doing, Petryk forged his own path. His early competitors? All but one are no longer in business.

12. You recover quickly. It’s a popular notion that successful entrepreneurs fail fast and fail often. If you fail, resist the urge to mope or feel sorry for yourself. Don’t wallow, move on to the next big thing immediately.
13. You fulfil needs. “Many people recognise marketplace holes, but the true entrepreneur takes them from cocktail napkin to reality,” says Jennifer Dawn, partner in Savor the Success, a business network for women. “Entrepreneurs think of a way to fix it and take steps to fix it. They’re innovators.”

14. You surround yourself with advisors. Actress Jessica Alba, co-founder and president of The Honest Company, says, “It’s important to surround yourself with people smarter than you and to listen to ideas that aren’t yours.” True entrepreneurs don’t hire yes men; they talk to those with experience and conduct thorough research, gathering as much information as they can to make informed decisions.

15. You work and play hard. “Entrepreneurs fall down and pick themselves up until they get it right,” says Micha Kaufman, who snowboards and sails in addition to running Fiverr, the online marketplace he cofounded. During Fiverr’s launch, instead of trying to deal with an endless number of potential challenges, Kaufman and his team focused on the single biggest challenge every marketplace has: building liquidity. He says, “Not building liquidity is like worrying for the skills needed for frontside 360 jumps before learning snowboarding basics.”