Qualities Of An Entrepreneur Essay Questions

Quiz: Which Successful Entrepreneur Are You Most Like?

6 Common Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs

There’s no definitive formula for success. However, as entrepreneurs, we don’t really need a formula.

We can stand on the shoulders of giants. We don’t need to guess or try to figure out our path to success from complete scratch. We can look to the successful entrepreneurs out there and emulate their habits, common qualities and characteristics.

Here are the six common qualities I’ve found among the entrepreneurs I try to model myself after. This isn’t the definitive list nor the only important qualities. These are just the ones I think you can take the most away from right now. With each quality, I’ll show you a successful entrepreneur that possesses it and how you emulate them and apply that quality today.

1. Perseverance

Arianna Huffington faced rejection after rejection when trying to publish her second book, After Reason. However, Arianna did not give up. When she was 23 years old, she was rejected by 36 publishers before her book was finally published.

Years later, in 2003, Arianna ran for governor of California in the California gubernatorial recall race. However, after seeing only 2 percent support in early polls, Arianna dropped out of the race. Despite this, and seeing the power of the internet through her fundraising campaign, two years later she launched HuffingtonPost.com, which later sold to AOL.com in 2011 for $315 million.

via HuffingtonPost.com

My mother said failure was a stepping stone to success

Arianna understood the importance of perseverance despite her failures and roadblocks. A successful entrepreneur knows that failures and rejections are not signs for stopping but instead signs to keep pushing forward and persevering.

Begin looking at failures and roadblocks as learning experiences and stepping stones. Remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it. You will encounter failures, setbacks and other obstacles. But that’s okay. Persevering despite the struggle is one of the most rewarding experiences for entrepreneurs.

2. Self-Improvement and Always Learning

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is known for being someone who learns very fast. Before Elon Musk started the SpaceX program, according to Esquire’s interview, he read and consumed as many rocketry and propulsion books as possible to learn how to build rockets.

When Elon Musk participated in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, one user asked how Elon is capable of learning so much in such a short amount of time. Elon replied “one bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree—make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

via Wikipedia

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.

Even with Elon’s success with PayPal and Tesla, and all of his accumulated experience, he understood he would have to learn about rockets and rocket propulsion systems if he wanted to be a competent leader of a space flight company.

Successful entrepreneurs strive to learn more. A part of this is realizing that no matter how successful you are or how much you think you might know, there’s always an opportunity to learn more and work on your personal growth.

Start reading more, listening to more podcasts, and watching more YouTube videos on subjects that can help grow your business. Put together a regiment and daily routine where you set aside an hour a day to work on yourself and becoming a more knowledgeable entrepreneur.

3. Risk-Taker

Bill Gates risked his future when he dropped out of Harvard when only 20 years old, to co-found the software company, Microsoft.

From Bill Gates’ book, “Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System”, Bill describes his risk-taking as “to win big, sometimes you have to take big risks. Big bets mean big failures as well as successes. Today, looking back, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft’s current success was inevitable. But at the time we made our big bets, including starting the company as the first personal computer software firm, most people thought we would fail.”

Business is a money game with few rules and a lot of risk.

What are the things you are most afraid of doing that has the potential to grow your business the most or put you on the most direct path to where you want to be? One way to overcome the fear of taking risks is simply through exposure. Entrepreneur.com suggests surrounding yourself with other risk-takers. To break out of your comfort zone, and start taking more risks with your business, spend more time with people who encourage you, not the ones who think you will fail.

4. Leadership

Howard Schultz’s leadership helped quickly turn Starbucks around when it was on the brink of failure in 2008, during a massive recession. In an interview with London Business Forum, Howard Schultz talked a lot about leadership and what it took for him to revive Starbucks. One of the most notable things Howard says in this interview is “leaders need to be decisive, and you have to be willing to make decisions without perfect information.”

I think the currency of leadership is transparency, you’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.

Leadership means being decisive and executing on the things that lead to the growth and betterment of your business. If you have employees or people that you work with, part of being a leader is also explaining how and why the decision is made.

Taking initiative and taking responsibility (and ownership of problems) are two things you can start doing now to work to develop your leadership skills.

5. Hustle and Tremendous Work Ethic

Even while Oprah Winfrey hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, she was not shy to take on other projects. She appeared in 12 movies and cameoed and produced dozens of other TV shows, movies and documentaries. Oprah took on many different projects, all while keeping her show at the top of TV ratings and winning awards, including 9 Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show.

Even after the series finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011, Oprah continues and continued  to be a media mogul with her own television network, Oxygen, her own channel, OWN, a magazine, a website, a XM satellite radio channel and several more movies and television show cameos.

via Oprah.com

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.

Success requires a little bit of grit and hustle. In Oprah’s case, her success came from how she built up her personal brand. She hustled to put herself on nearly every channel available to her without sacrificing quality.

How many platforms can you put your business and brand on? Get active and use the channels available, to bring awareness to your brand.

Go out there and work for it. Don’t be passive or wait for the traffic to come to you. You need to go out there and proactively market your product and proactively make a name for yourself. Nobody is responsible for your success besides you.

6. Focus

When Steve Jobs returned to a failing Apple in 1996, he saw that Apple was losing focus on what made them successful and great. By 1997, Steve reduced Apple’s product line from 350 to just 10.

At a developer’s conference in 1997, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying “When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

Around this time, Steve Jobs had to make a lot of tough decisions to kill off a lot of the products and projects Apple was involved in. Apple’s poor management caused the company to spread itself out too thin. Steve noticed this and began to focus the company which inevitably helped Apple be the powerhouse brand and company that it is today.

When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.

Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of focusing and not spreading themselves out too thin or allowing their business to lose focus from its’ original vision.

Take time to step outside of yourself and your business and see where you have started to lose focus. A simple strategy to employ is to keep it simple. Focus on making the best one product instead of making 10 “okay” products. Focus on growing the best ecommerce business in one industry instead of trying to decently serve several niches.

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

You don’t have to adopt all of these qualities today, just the ones you resonated the most with. Does your business feel unfocused? Work on your focus. Are you not grinding enough? Start hustling more to get your business and products out there.

Entrepreneurs are not born with these qualities, they learn and adopt them through mentors, influencers and their own personal experience. You can start today to do the same to be a better entrepreneur and business leader.

Let me know which quality resonated the most with you in the comments below. If you feel like there’s an important entrepreneurial quality that I missed, let me know as well. I engage and respond with all comments.

About The Author

Corey Ferreira is a passionate entrepreneur, coconut water lover and content creator at Shopify.


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Hours of banter, pages of writing, and thousands of dollars of research have been devoted to answering one of the most popular and elusive questions about entrepreneurship: “What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur?”. Is it a personality trait? Can entrepreneurship be learned? Can it be taught? What kind of person does it require? Can anyone become this kind of person, or are certain people born for the entrepreneurial life? These questions can be answered by examining anecdotal evidence, industry trends, and scientific research. And in short the answer is – it depends.

In recent years, the term “entrepreneur” has escaped its stereotype as “your friend who can never hold down a job” and transitioned into “your rich friend with celebrity status”. “Entrepreneur” used to carry roughly the same definition as “inventor”, which conjures images of a mad scientist in a garage. Now, thanks to the wild success of companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and Ebay, entrepreneurship is cool. Kids that used to want to be fireman now aspire to create the “next Facebook”, and colleges are creating entrepreneurship programs to cater to them. So if entrepreneurship is suddenly so hip, why do 99 college graduates out of 100 take solid jobs at established companies with stable incomes? The answer may lie in the personality of that one student that strikes out on his own and starts a venture. Let’s look at the results of some studies performed on the personalities of entrepreneurs, and examine their conclusions –

  • Entrepreneurs are non-conformists. Being non-conformists, they are innately driven to differentiate from the status quo. They don’t listen when someone tells them something cannot be done. [1]
  • Entrepreneurs are motivated by achievement rather than power or money. They set high goals that they can reach through application of their skills. They are more interested in creating something than getting rich (which ironically, sometimes is the result). [2]
  • Entrepreneurs prefer to do new things, or to do familiar things in a different and better way. Entrepreneurs have a preference for innovation. [3]
  • Entrepreneurs have high uncertainty tolerance. They are willing to accept that they cannot predict the future, but recognize that they can guide it through their actions. [4]

So what are we to make of these characteristics? Can you teach someone to be a non-conformist? Can you lecture on uncertainty tolerance? It seems the answer is no – entrepreneurs are born, not made. The research suggests that you cannot become an entrepreneur – you ARE an entrepreneur. This is supported by examining children’s early manifestations of entrepreneurial traits, prior to receiving any formal training.

Long before they were starting innovative companies, they were trying their hand at the most time tested entrepreneurial exercise ever conceived – the lemonade stand. Nearly every child has sat on the curb and hawked lemonade on a hot summer afternoon, and most only did it once, determining that the few dollars wasn’t worth the time in the sun. However, a few children realize that by deviating from the basic formula, they can easily turn a few hours of work into a new bike. Perhaps they move out of their front yard to a more desirable location in front of the local pool. Maybe they hire a friend and operate two locations at once. Maybe they expand into cookies as well. This children are entrepreneurs – long before they have had any sort of formal training in entrepreneurship, or even business, they are exhibiting some of the key entrepreneurial characteristics outlined above.

So if entrepreneurs are born and not made, why do so many colleges and universities offer programs in entrepreneurship? These programs exist not to train new entrepreneurs, but to cultivate and enhance the entrepreneurial spirit that may be lying dormant in young college students. In addition the in-born characteristics that drive entrepreneurship, there are important entrepreneurial skills that can be learned – the ability to see and articulate a vision, team leadership and motivation, and opportunity identification, to name a few. There are also many talents needed by today’s entrepreneur that clearly must be learned. Writing a business plan and executive summary, creating pro forma financial statements, and the art of the elevator pitch, to name a few.

We can conclude that successful entrepreneurs are both born and made. It appears that entrepreneurs have a dual composition – a certain set of born-in personality traits that drive them to seek out and succeed in the entrepreneurial life, as well as set of learned skills that enable them to apply their natural gifts most effectively.


[1] Rosenfeld, R.B., M. Winger-Bearskin, D. Marcie, and C.L. Braun. 1993. Delineating Entrepreneurs’ Styles: Application of adaptation-innovation subscales. Psychological Reports, 72(1), 287-298. [2] Hornaday, R.H. 1982. Research about Living Entrepreneurs. In C.A. Kent, D.L. Sexton, and K.H Vesper (Eds), Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship (pp. 20-34). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. [3] Chen, C., R. Green, and A. Crick. 1998. Drucker, P. 1985. Innovation and Entrepreneurship. New York: Harper and Row. [4] Chen, C., R. Green, and A. Crick. 1998. Drucker, P. 1985. Innovation and Entrepreneurship. New York: Harper and Row.

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