What Traits Do Successful Entrepreneurs Have?

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 16, 2023

From embodying ferocity, even through tough times, to being comfortable with failure, here are 20 answers to the question, “What traits do successful entrepreneurs have?”

  • Ferocity First
  • Humility
  • Uses Criticism as a Tool
  • Grit
  • Creativity
  • Determination
  • People Smart
  • Visionary
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Recognizes Potential
  • Active Listening
  • Relentlessness
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Know When to Rest
  • Strong Sense of Purpose
  • Adaptability
  • Have an Insatiable Hunger for Knowledge
  • Being Future-oriented
  • Makes Calculated Risks
  • Comfortable Failing

Ferocity First

Ferocity is a hugely important trait of a successful entrepreneur. There are so many challenges with entrepreneurship that unless you have the ferocity to push on through the tough times, you’ll find yourself at a mental dead-end. Having an extraordinarily fierce mindset helps to overcome the many challenges, roadblocks, and setbacks that come with entrepreneurship.

John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner, Berry Law

Humility 

While most people argue that a highly successful entrepreneur must possess qualities like innovation, drive, and determination, they must also have a sense of humility.

From this perspective, humility is an unlikely trait for someone constantly pushing the boundaries and taking risks. However, this sense of humility allows successful entrepreneurs to stay grounded and continue to grow.

Humility allows them to admit when they don’t know something or make a mistake, which ‌then lets them learn from their mistakes, embrace new ideas and perspectives, and continue to develop as leaders.

Without humility, successful entrepreneurs may become too entrenched in their ideas and methods, leading to stagnation and a failure to adapt to changing circumstances.

Guna Kakulapati, Co-Founder and CEO, CureSkin

Uses Criticism As a Tool

Though we all like to hear praise, that is not always what comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur, but your most successful ones have the trait of using criticism as a driver to better their business.

Any business that has a sizable customer base is going to have those who are critical or even nasty about aspects of your business; however, it’s how one reacts that determines whether it will boost success or lead to a demise. Those who expect to encounter criticism understand its usefulness to point out gaps or shortcomings, to see ways to improve the customer journey and to approach it as a motivator to implement change.

These are the entrepreneurs who can adjust and thrive. It is those individuals who do not view criticism as a deterrent, but as a useful tool, that will make them highly successful.

Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce

Grit 

People are quick to look at IQ, talent, and connections for reasons an entrepreneur is successful, but grit is the single determining factor for success.

Grit is the ability to be resilient and to persevere for an answer. By definition, an entrepreneur challenges the way the world works in its current state—that ability to seek answers to unknown questions is challenging.

We all, as humans, don’t know what we don’t know, but rather than shy away from that potential to be wrong and fail, truly successful entrepreneurs embrace grit and the ability to carry on until they find the right answer. These entrepreneurs know they can’t always be successful on the first try, but they only have to be right once to be successful.

If their business can solve challenging problems—problems that matter deeply to particular customers—they will succeed, but grit will always be required to navigate the hurdles until their business reaches that ideal solution.

Patrick Ward, Founder, NanoGlobals

Creativity

Entrepreneurs who possess a creative mindset can identify opportunities where others see only obstacles, and they can dare to develop unique and innovative solutions to problems.

For example, a creative entrepreneur may see a need in the market for a new product or service and have the vision to develop an innovative solution to meet that need. They can identify untapped markets and customer segments and differentiate their offerings in ways that set them apart from the competition.

Additionally, creative entrepreneurs can continuously adapt and evolve their businesses, keeping up with changing market conditions and customer needs. They are unafraid to take calculated risks and try new things, always seeking new and better ways to do something.

Ubaldo Perez, Founder and CEO, Hush

Determination 

A highly successful entrepreneur has the will and determination to turn dreams into reality. They are not easily deterred and will take risks and sacrifice to achieve their goals. They have a powerful drive and ambition that pushes them to try new strategies and take calculated risks.

Besides this, they also have excellent communication skills and can negotiate and collaborate with partners effectively. They can also be creative and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. Finally, highly successful entrepreneurs also have good business acumen and understand the basics of accounting, marketing, and sales.

Brenton Thomas, CEO, Twibi Digital Marketing Agency

People Smart

Social interaction is among the vital roles of being an entrepreneur, and only those who are people-smart can carry out this role successfully. Moreover, being people-smart is more than just having excellent interpersonal skills. It also includes quickly sensing employees’ emotional energy and understanding their feelings through non-verbal cues.

Entrepreneurs who are people-smart almost always have solutions to every problem scenario. Because of their exposure to many people with distinct personalities, they know exactly how to deal with hard employees. This allows them to resolve conflicts efficiently and tactfully, making them exceptional and likable leaders.

Allan Stolc, Founder, Bankly

Visionary

Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t just about being able to create a successful business now, but knowing how to sustain the business in the future and change to keep up to date with trends, technological advances, and consumer behavior to allow the business to stay relevant, attractive, and successful despite the changes.

Having that vision of not only what trends will be effective in the future but also how to keep the business relevant to these changes and being one step ahead of the game is an important trait to ensure success.

Many businesses with great ideas end up failing because they are too afraid to make changes and stick to their ways, ending up being left behind. Having the vision to foresee the changes and adapt to what needs to be done will prevent that from happening.

Jenna Nye, CEO, On the Strip

Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness refers to understanding, appreciating, and effectively navigating cultural differences and similarities. This ability is critical in today’s globalized business environment, where entrepreneurs often interact with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

By being culturally aware, entrepreneurs can better understand their customers, employees, and partners, leading to more effective communication and collaboration. They can also identify and capitalize on market opportunities and avoid misunderstandings and cultural faux pas, damaging relationships and harming their businesses.

Matt Artz, Business Anthropologist, Matt Artz

Recognizes Potential

One of the key traits that highly successful entrepreneurs possess is the ability to recognize the potential in an idea or product. This is not only important in terms of their ability to see the potential of their own ideas, but also in their ability to see the potential in others and in ideas that are not their own.

The ability to see the potential in an idea or product requires a certain level of creativity and imagination, as well as a deep understanding of market trends and consumer behavior. One example of a highly successful entrepreneur who possessed a keen ability to recognize the potential in an idea is Steve Jobs.

Jobs could recognize the potential in a small computer technology company called Xerox PARC, which had developed a graphical user interface (GUI) that allowed users to interact with computers using a mouse and icons. Many people saw very little, but Jobs saw the potential in this technology and understood how it would change the future.

Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade

Active Listening

A key trait of successful entrepreneurs is being a good listener. It’s simple, but it also just works.

By actively listening to their employees, entrepreneurs gain vital insights that allow them to make informed decisions that lead to better outcomes. Employees who tackle issues hands-on have a unique perspective, as they are the ones directly facing and solving problems daily.

By considering their input, entrepreneurs can make strategic changes that improve efficiency and productivity, leading to increased effectiveness and success for the business. Creating an environment where employees feel heard and valued improves morale and promotes a positive work culture-both essential for long-term success.

Derek Sall, Founder and Financial Expert, Life and My Finances

Relentlessness

No matter how many challenges or obstacles we face, continue to push forward and never give up. Understand that failure is part of the business process and use it as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Relentlessness has truly been essential for me as I continue down my own entrepreneurial journey, and it has been something I strive to embody every day.

Ludovic Chung-Sao, Lead Engineer and Founder, Zen Soundproof

Excellent Communication Skills

Entrepreneurs must have strong communication skills, especially when communicating their vision and ideas. Successful entrepreneurs must articulate their vision clearly and compellingly, inspiring others to pursue it. This includes explaining their product’s or service’s unique value proposition and how it differs from what is already on the market.

They must also be able to motivate and lead their teams, which requires excellent communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for establishing trust and strong relationships.

Effective communication skills can also help entrepreneurs resolve issues and make sound decisions. Entrepreneurs must be able to gather information from multiple sources, analyze it, and then clearly and persuasively communicate their findings and recommendations.

Levon Galstyan, Certified Public Accountant, Oak View Law Group

Know When to Rest

Effective entrepreneurs possess a combination of ambition, enthusiasm, and the ability to know when to take a step back. Taking a break is crucial in avoiding burnout, recharging, and gaining a new perspective. Regular breaks allow entrepreneurs to assess their progress, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions.

By being mindful of when to pause, entrepreneurs can avoid costly mistakes, prioritize their health, and refocus their energy. This balance between pushing forward and taking breaks is key to success in entrepreneurship, helping entrepreneurs stay on track, reflect on their journey, and make well-informed decisions that drive their business forward.

Burak Özdemir, Founder, Online Alarm Clock

Strong Sense of Purpose

A highly successful entrepreneur never loses sight of the main reason he or she started the business, and that’s to provide solutions to a problem or customer pain points.

Running a business has its difficulties, and sometimes you might feel like just giving up. A strong sense of purpose is one thing that can keep you going and focused on your desired outcome. It also guides you on your decisions and in figuring out when it’s time to pivot and change directions completely.

Aidan Kang, CEO, House of Debt

Adaptability

The highly changing nature of business requires its owners to be adaptive. Since entrepreneurship is an iterative process, you have to face challenges and problems at every stage. You must be adaptive to be a highly successful entrepreneur.

Obviously, you can’t know every scenario of the business, but you can be ready for what is unknown yet. Highly successful entrepreneurs make up their minds in a way that they can handle any situation with a positive attitude. They can adapt to any situation and find a solution to problems.

In business, often things don’t work as you think; they turn out to be different and‌ more astounding than you ever thought. So, if you are adaptive, you will deal with the situation. You need to remain flexible to handle even what you never expected in a business. Over 90% of businesses fail, which is shockingly true. If you don’t want to list yours among the failed businesses, be adaptive and ready to deal with any situation.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director, HR and Business, Technource

Have an Insatiable Hunger for Knowledge

This helps in learning to understand yourself as well as the habits of your consumers, which is helpful because both things are essential but for very different reasons.

If you have a good understanding of yourself, you will work at extreme levels while still being able to have fun and not feel overworked. This is shown by several of today’s high-end CEOs, such as Elon Musk, who routinely put in over 100 hours of work per week.

If you have a good understanding of your customers, you will anticipate their movements and arrive at their destination before they do. This will give you an advantage over everyone else who is simply following the trends that are currently prevalent. Learning, reading, and independent thought are essential to the success of entrepreneurs.

Logan Nguyen, Co-Founder, MIDSS

Being Future-oriented

Like gardeners, entrepreneurs must plant seeds that will bloom into a future garden. There is no guarantee that every seed will sprout, or that after weeks of nurturing it, a pest won’t destroy the entire crop. Entrepreneurs have the same uncertainty of outcome, but like a gardener, they have faith that in the future they will harvest from the seeds they sowed previously. Both entrepreneurs and gardeners are eternally optimistic and positive about the future.

Heather Eason, Founder, President, and CEO, SELECT Power Systems

Makes Calculated Risks

Highly successful entrepreneurs know how to make calculated risks. Risk is inherent in starting and growing a company, but the ability to identify a target market and fulfill that need while managing risk is unique. Calculated risks can also provide a way to test out new ideas and strategies, as well as provide a way to mitigate potential losses.

Dave Haney, CEO, Surety Systems, Inc.

Comfortable Failing

One trait of highly successful entrepreneurs is the ability to fail and keep going, a.k.a. “grit.” Be able to take risks and be okay with getting it wrong and having to pivot. Fail fast and forward to achieve greatness. We have gone from bankruptcy to eight figures in sales by constantly making mistakes, learning, and pivoting.

Kavita Sahai, CEO and Founder, K Sahai

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