Five essential characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

Here, Dessy Ohanians, managing director of executive education at the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), writes about five essential characteristics that entrepreneurs should have in order to be successful.

It is easier and less expensive to start a business in the UK than ever before, especially since the internet has broken several of the barriers that entrepreneurs faced in the past.

According to the World Bank, the UK is ranked 7th in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ for 2018, and entrepreneurs are definitely taking advantage of this.

And let’s not forget the crowdfunding phenomenon, which has allowed individuals without their own capital to start businesses and social enterprises.

You might be reading this article because you are an entrepreneur or you are thinking of becoming one. Either way, you are very aware of the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as the very scary statistic that only one in ten businesses survive past their first year.

So what are the factors that allow some entrepreneurs to become successful whilst others struggle to survive – or even worse, fail?

Related: Karren Brady Q&A – 6 qualities of a successful entrepreneur

From reading many stories of entrepreneurial success, the people driving the companies forward have some common characteristics.

In order to give yourself the best chance of success in this fast-changing landscape, it might be useful to consider five of what I believe to be essential qualities.

1. Visionary

Successful entrepreneurs are able to look ahead, see the big picture, and paint a vision of the future. This vision is the piece of the puzzle that no one sees other than you, so it is your responsibility to make that vision vivid in the minds of the people working with you and helping you along the way.

Take them on a journey to the future only you can see and help them reach the milestones. When you are the captain of your own ship, you alone set the course: make sure the crew works hard to take you there.

2. Risk taking

Successful entrepreneurs have unusually high risk tolerance. Starting any new business involves taking big risks in terms of finances, time, and opportunity. As an entrepreneur, it is essential that you are comfortable with constantly taking risks; but you also need to learn the skills of how to minimise and manage risk with every decision.

If you are currently employed and receiving a regular income from a monthly pay check, one of the first risks to consider is that you will not have that security for an uncertain period of time. Are you prepared for that?

3. Emotionally resilient

Successful entrepreneurs are able to bounce back quickly from the inevitable setbacks and disappointments. I have not heard of a successful entrepreneur who has not failed numerous times before striking gold.

The ability to dust yourself off, learn from your failures, and try again is one of the essential characteristics of most successful people regardless of their field. Setbacks can kill a growing company if the owner does not have the resilience to move past them.

4. Optimistic

Successful entrepreneurs believe they will succeed. The road to success is very bumpy, and you will fail much more often than you win. These knocks to your confidence can be detrimental to your willingness to get up and try again.

Being optimistic in such moments is absolutely imperative to succeed in the next stage of your start-up journey. And yes, it is a journey: not a glamorous first-class flight, but a slow hard climb up the dirt tracks.

5. Energetic

Successful entrepreneurs have both the drive to succeed and the stamina to make it happen. Even though technology has made our lives easier, in some ways it has made entrepreneurship harder – everyone has access to the same information, everyone launches faster, and there is no time for mistakes.

Every moment not spent improving your company or product is a moment the competition is catching up.

You can answer for yourself to what extent these characteristics are present in your own personality and what you can do to work on strengthening them. Some will be more natural to you than others, and some will require determination and grit to develop over time.

From my personal experiences of running a business for over 20 years, I can testify that I have consciously worked on my emotional resilience.

Earlier in my professional career I used to take every failure or customer criticism very personally. I would start doubting my own abilities and decisions, and veer off course just to satisfy my self-doubts and insecurities.

With experience, I have learned that I cannot make everyone happy all the time and business failures are not personal failures.

Learning to pick yourself up after a setback, learning, and moving on is a hard lesson, but well worth learning.

So perhaps before you employ all your efforts in launching your business, ask yourself the questions below to assess your readiness for becoming an entrepreneur:

  1. Do I have a vision of what I want my business to look like?
  2. Do I believe that I have the skills to turn my vision into reality?
  3. Do I have the passion and determination to see it through?

Dessy Ohanians is managing director of executive education at the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)

Further reading on becoming a successful entrepreneur

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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