10 Essential Traits Of An Entrepreneur

Image via Unsplash/Ben Rosett

Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah may appear to be completely different, but under the surface they share traits that fuel their work. Entrepreneurs are indeed a different breed, with their own set of stripes, but there’s a pattern in those stripes. Here are the ten essential traits of an entrepreneur:

1. A competitive nature, against themselves.

As much as entrepreneurs enjoy beating their competition, they’re just as passionate about beating themselves. Richard Branson said, “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself.”

2. Learning from everyone.

Entrepreneurs live off ideas, and know that great ideas can come from anyone. Adopt this philosophy from Bill Nye, popularly known as the Science Guy: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

3. Thick skin.

Frequently being told “you’re insane,” and “it’ll never work” will make you wish you had a dollar each time. Successful entrepreneurs take it like water off a duck’s back. Critics will see you walk on water and say it’s because you can’t swim; having thick skin will ensure that you’ll just keep walking.

4. Considering consequences.

It’s easy to get blindsided by instant gratification, and forget the long-term consequences. Great entrepreneurs always keep the bigger picture in mind. Warren Buffet’s legacy of success is indeed a marathon, and he gives this reminder, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

5. Staying foolish.

Many things that are considered normal were viewed as unrealistic at one point. Steve Job’s advice to “stay foolish” reflected his own journey of constant innovation and pushing the boundaries for what’s possible. A slight sense of ignorance is healthy and necessary in the entrepreneurial world.

6. Sweat equity.

Nothing beats blood, sweat, and tears at the end of the day. You may have the best team to delegate work to, and plenty of support from VCs, but regardless, successful entrepreneurs always find a way to get their hands dirty. There’s nothing more satisfying, or important then knowing you’ve put in 110 percent.

7. Iterating vs. “quitting.”

“Quitting” has an entirely different meaning for entrepreneurs. There are times a project will fail or an idea needs to be scrapped, but iterating means looking beyond the act of quitting and finding the lesson in the failure. It’s ok to “quit” at times, but make sure it’s a stepping stone.

8. Bigger than the bottom line.

It’s gotta be more than just the cash. Entrepreneurs are inspiring and passionate about creating value for people, but their definition of value goes beyond the bottom line. As Tony Hsieh said, “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”

9. Fire, aim, ready.

Rather than ready, aim, fire, entrepreneurs have it backward. They fight against the feeling of not being prepared enough, but they take action anyway. The first step is always the most difficult, and trying to get all your ducks in a row will be paralyzing.

10. Taking responsibility.

It’s easy and tempting to blame the person beside you. But even if they’re partially responsible, taking responsibility doesn’t ignore the fault; it addresses it to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Blaming is throwing a blanket on the fire, only to have it light up again. Entrepreneurs are great leaders and take responsibility, making sure the fire is completely put out.