12 characteristics of an entrepreneur

Pieter Scholtz.
Pieter Scholtz.

AN ENTREPRENEUR is a businessperson who conceives and executes ventures, often taking risks when doing so. Not all independent business people are true entrepreneurs, and not all entrepreneurs are created equal. Different degrees or levels of entrepreneurial intensity depend on a number of factors, including independence, leadership, innovation, responsibility and creativity in the conceptualisation and execution of their business plans.

While individual entrepreneurs have many unique traits, all entrepreneurs do share some aspects of similarity.

Twelve characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that I have identified in my work with them are:


Confidence is a hallmark of the entrepreneur. Not all of us are born with confidence, but that does not mean we are not capable of it.

Passionate about learning

Entrepreneurs are often autodidactic learners, which means that much of what they know they learned outside of a formal classroom setting. Autodidactic learners seek out information, ask questions and do personal reading and research to gain knowledge. They also are quick to learn from their own mistakes, which mean they are less prone to repeating them.  


Rather than viewing a problem as someone else’s responsibility, an entrepreneur owns it and works to find a solution that will leave things in better shape then they were. However, an effective entrepreneur also knows the difference between healthy responsibility and an inability to delegate.


Entrepreneurs dedicate themselves to their plans, visions, and dreams, and that tenacity of purpose affects their whole business. One of the biggest reasons that companies fail is because they lose focus. Regardless of the effort required, an entrepreneur brings a single-minded dedication to the task by being committed to a positive outcome and ready and willing to do what is necessary.

Good communication

Entrepreneurs recognize that communication is the key to successful relationships with people. Entrepreneurs work on their communication skills, whether written, spoken, or non-verbal through body language. And, above all, the entrepreneur develops their ability to listen, because the best communicators are also the best listeners.

Team player

Team players know how to succeed by working in partnership with others.


Good systems repeatedly produce great results. Entrepreneurs look for system-based solutions before searching for human resource solutions. This way a business is secure regardless of any future staff changes.


Entrepreneurs don’t take things for granted. This gives them the agility and flexibility to adapt to changes and demands, while it also reminds them that wealth is not just about possessions, but about fulfilment.


A positive outlook is essential for an entrepreneur. Past shortcomings, failures, or disappointments don’t become detrimental to future plans.


Because business is all about people, entrepreneurs tend to be socially outgoing. They get excited about sharing ideas, products, and services, and that excitement is contagious to their employees, clients, friends, and other people.


Entrepreneurs not only lead themselves, but they are also skilled at leading others. They know the importance of teamwork, and they understand the need to appreciate others, support them, and reward them accordingly.

Unafraid of risk or success

Entrepreneurs are not immune to fear. But they prioritize their approach to life so that the fears of failure, frustration, boredom, drudgery, and dissatisfaction, or even success, don’t become debilitating or dictative.

By examining some of the dominant qualities of entrepreneurs, aspirant business owners can emulate, nurture and develop them, or take time to honestly assess whether or not they are suited to an entrepreneurial career.

* Pieter Scholtz is the co-master franchisor for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa. He is also a certified, leading business and executive coach.

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