Do you have dreams of walking away from your 9-to-5 and finally turning your great idea into a thriving business? Perhaps you’ve got a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit. Anyone with this ambition takes on the risks—and rewards—of their efforts.
Business leaders are unique, but they typically share certain personality traits that increase their chances of success. Here are some exemplary characteristics of entrepreneurship that you can explore.
What is entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the process of developing and running a new business to generate profit, while balancing financial risk. A great entrepreneur finds new ways to solve problems and deliver value to customers, often by introducing new products and services or creating new markets.
Ecommerce business owners are one type of entrepreneur. They leverage the internet to sell their products and services, using tools like social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to maximize their reach.
Seven essential characteristics of entrepreneurship
You might have some or all of the entrepreneurial skills it takes to start a business. If you don’t, you can develop them over time. Traits of an entrepreneurial mindset include:
- Understand your target market
- Develop a strong brand
- Optimize your website for conversion
- Build relationships with customers
- Make a budget and stick to it
- Choose team members wisely and delegate
- Set goals
- Test and optimize
- Use marketing channels
- Build a support system
You’ve likely heard the adage, “No risk, no reward.” That can be true when launching any business venture. The primary reward of starting a successful business is profit, while the inherent risk is failure—and the personal and financial setbacks this might entail.
About 75% of venture-backed startups fail for various reasons—cash flow problems, supply chain issues, high employee turnover, and even unforeseen events like a global pandemic—so successful entrepreneurs need some level of risk tolerance. Still, many entrepreneurs take steps to actively manage their risks and protect their business. For example, business founder Edwin Broni-Mensah launched his social impact company GiveMeTap, which aims to make safe water more accessible globally, as a side hustle before jumping in full-time.
Every venture starts with a vision: the desired direction of the business and its overarching pursuits, even if they seem difficult to achieve. Stakeholders, like your employees and investors, look to you—and your vision—for guidance, motivation, and decisive leadership, especially when the going gets tough. While your mission statement defines your organization’s business objectives and how it intends to reach them, you can also create a vision statement to declare your aspirational goals.
Consider Passionfruit’s vision statement: “To create inclusive clothing and accessories that enable you to show your pride all year round while giving back to our community.” This statement focuses on allowing people to express themselves through clothing and apparel. It reminds customers the brand is aligned with LGBTQ+ values and promises to support the community by giving back.
When running a new venture, you sometimes get tired or run low on self-motivation. Entrepreneurs need the discipline to move forward and do the work—even when they don’t feel like it. Being disciplined can be especially helpful if you’re developing an entirely new business concept, like Sarah Paiji Yoo did when she created a company that makes tablet-form household products.
If you need to develop discipline, focus on establishing healthy routines like writing down your goals, creating a schedule, or exercising regularly. When challenges arise, be persistent until you reach your goal. Part of what makes a leader successful is their ability to use failures as opportunities to learn and grow.
While being prepared for every scenario is nearly impossible, adaptable business leaders adjust to change with a positive attitude. Adaptability is an essential personality trait in a world of evolving business practices and changing demands. Versatile leaders are comfortable with failure (or success) and have the resilience to overcome challenges quickly.
When entrepreneur Mike Salguero realized one of his businesses wasn’t taking off after several years, he noticed a different opportunity in the marketplace—shipping high-quality meat products under a subscription model—and started ButcherBox, which took off.
Leadership is the ability to influence and guide others, whether a small team or a large company. Good leaders share their vision, develop well-rounded teams that complement their abilities, and have confidence in themselves and what they sell—skills that apply to every type of business
LA stylist and founder of The Period Company, Karla Welch, exhibits leadership by using her platform to shift ideas about the period products we use, their impact on the environment, and how to address customer needs through inclusivity.
Creativity encompasses more than proficiency in a specific art form. Creative entrepreneurs find inspiration or use their imaginations to solve problems—often with limited resources.
Business coach and #CultureFix founder Nora Rahimian describes this group as individuals trying to do what they do on their own terms. Creatives use innovation to improve products, services, and ideas, and deliver value to their customers. You can develop strategic thinking skills by discovering what inspires you, reading and learning some of the best entrepreneur books, and developing habits that support creativity.
An entrepreneur’s curiosity allows them to continuously learn and discover new opportunities. Rather than settling for the status quo, entrepreneurs ask challenging questions and explore ways to deliver new solutions to their customers.
For example, business founder Ross Mackay saw that many plant-based meats contained unhealthy processed ingredients and wondered if it was possible to remove chicken from the food system while offering a healthy replacement. Mackay’s curiosity and drive helped him launch Daring, a chicken alternative made with just six ingredients and plenty of nutrients, which is shaking up the plant-based food industry.
10 tips for successful entrepreneurship
Having the characteristics of entrepreneurship is just the first step. If you’re looking to launch a business, there are concrete actions you can take to help you become a successful entrepreneur.
1. Understand your target market
A target market is the group of customers most likely to buy your goods or services. Once you define this core audience, market research can help you understand what they need, want, like, and dislike. Being intentional about how and where you spend your marketing dollars can help strengthen sales to grow your business.
2. Develop a strong brand
Your branding goes beyond your visual identity; it can also position you as the go-to business in your space. To develop a strong brand, understand your competition, determine your primary audience, develop a compelling story, and build a brand strategy. Investing in brand identity can help your company grow and succeed at scale.
3. Optimize your website for conversion
Your ecommerce business might sell great products or services, but you might be losing sales if your website is confusing or not visually appealing. You can convert visitors into leads by designing a beautiful and creative website, driving traffic to it, and creating effective calls to action—messages that urge visitors to sign up, buy now, or complete another desired action—once they land on your page.
4. Build relationships with customers
As an ecommerce business owner, you form many of your customer relationships online. You might engage with customers on social media, send email or text follow-ups, create customer loyalty programs, host in-person or virtual events, and provide excellent customer service. Building solid customer relationships is rewarding in itself, but it can also help you earn repeat customers and increase sales.
5. Make a budget and stick to it
A detailed and realistic budget can help you reduce some of the risks that come with launching a business. The basics of a solid budget include estimates of your available capital, regular expenditures, anticipated revenue, and places where you can cut costs. Being a disciplined entrepreneur and sticking to a budget puts you in a better position to make your money work for you.
6. Choose team members wisely and delegate
As a founder, you wear many hats—such as hiring manager, accountant, and customer service rep—when your business is getting off the ground. However, to grow revenue, you eventually need to hire talent, delegate tasks, and trust your team to do the work. Knowing how to hire employees is essential, whether starting your business on a budget or growing your company and outsourcing that responsibility to a hiring agency.
7. Set goals
Goals can give you a clear focus and help motivate your management team and employees. Some leaders create goals using the SMART method: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goal setting. This tool can help you clarify your ideas and focus your efforts. As an entrepreneur, numerous goal-setting tools are available to help you with day-to-day operations.
8. Test and optimize
Entrepreneurs are skilled at forming hypotheses and running meaningful tests, like A/B testing, to validate their ideas. Testing and optimizing can help you eliminate guesswork, collect customer insights, and deliver a great product.
9. Use marketing channels
Reach your target audience using the best marketing channels for your business, including websites and blogs, email and video marketing, and social media campaigns. Determine how your target market likes to engage, and create a strategy to leverage one or more of these channels.
10. Build a support system
A support system—in your personal life—is a network of friends and family members who can provide emotional and practical support when needed. While they may lend encouragement while you start a business, it’s also a good idea to develop a professional support system. You may find a business mentor, meet colleagues by networking like a pro, and develop professional relationships with your team members. Use these channels when you have questions, want to develop new business ideas, or just need motivation.
Characteristics of entrepreneurship FAQ
What makes an entrepreneur successful?
Business owners share many of the same entrepreneur characteristics: leadership, vision, discipline, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, and the ability to take measured risks. Developing these traits can help you become successful when launching your business.
Why is flexibility important for entrepreneurs?
Because business practices and customer demands are ever-evolving, entrepreneurs need to develop flexibility. While focusing on their goals, leaders must readily be able to adapt their marketing strategies and products to meet changing market conditions.
Why is risk-taking important for entrepreneurship?
No business is guaranteed to succeed, so entrepreneurs need to feel comfortable with some level of risk to grow. Successful entrepreneurs understand that risk-taking is a calculated process of identifying potential solutions, testing hypotheses, and using methods to mitigate risk.