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10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneur taking a business call

  • 07 Jul 2020

Multiple factors go into starting a successful business venture, including a strong concept and initial funding. But, perhaps the most important ingredient is the entrepreneur. These are individuals who must transform their ideas into a fully operational business.

If you’re thinking about launching your own venture, you might be wondering if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur . But first, what’s an entrepreneur, and what do they do?

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Entrepreneurship?

While entrepreneurship is commonly thought of as the process of starting a business, there are several nuances to consider.

In the HBS Online course Entrepreneurship Essentials , entrepreneurship is defined as “the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.” An opportunity can be a myriad of things, but the course describes it as "a proposed venture to sell a product or service for which customers are willing to pay more than the required investments and operating costs.”

Entrepreneurs —either as individuals or in teams—discover opportunities throughout their personal and professional lives. They form hypotheses on ways to deliver value to customers and perform structured tests to validate their ideas. This often involves recruiting teammates through networking and investing funds to determine how they’ll deliver a product or service at an acceptable cost.

Great entrepreneurs come from all walks of life. In Entrepreneurship Essentials, it’s noted that “there’s no single personality profile, and it’s important to pay attention to the entrepreneurial team, rather than focus on the individual.” And while that's true, there are certain characteristics and skills that are particularly important for entrepreneurs to have when starting and leading a venture.

Here are 10 characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs.

10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Curiosity

Successful entrepreneurs have a distinct personality trait that sets them apart from other organizational leaders: a sense of curiosity. An entrepreneur's ability to remain curious allows them to continuously seek new opportunities. Rather than settling for what they think they know, entrepreneurs ask challenging questions and explore different avenues.

This is validated in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials , where entrepreneurship is described as a “process of discovery." Without curiosity, entrepreneurs can’t achieve their main objective: discovering new opportunities.

The drive they have to continuously ask questions and challenge the status quo can lead them to valuable discoveries easily overlooked by other business professionals.

2. Willingness to Experiment

Along with curiosity, entrepreneurs require an understanding of structured experimentation, such as design thinking . With each new opportunity, an entrepreneur must run tests to determine if it’s worthwhile to pursue.

For example, if you have an idea for a new product or service that fulfills an underserved demand, you’ll have to ensure customers are willing to pay for it and it meets their needs . To do so, you’ll need to conduct thorough market research and run meaningful tests to validate your idea and determine its potential.

3. Adaptability

Entrepreneurship is an iterative process, and new challenges and opportunities present themselves at every turn. It’s nearly impossible to be prepared for every scenario, but successful business leaders must be adaptable.

This is especially true for entrepreneurs who need to evaluate situations and remain flexible to ensure their business keeps moving forward, no matter what unexpected changes occur.

4. Decisiveness

To be successful, an entrepreneur has to make difficult decisions and stand by them. As a leader, they’re responsible for guiding the trajectory of their business, including every aspect from funding and strategy to resource allocation.

Being decisive doesn’t always mean being correct. Entrepreneurs need the confidence to make challenging decisions and see them through to the end. If the outcome turns out to be less than favorable, the decision to take corrective action is just as important.

Check out our video on the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

5. Self-Awareness

A great entrepreneur is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Rather than letting shortcomings hold them back, they build well-rounded teams that complement their abilities.

In many cases, it’s the entrepreneurial team, rather than an individual, that drives a business venture toward success. When starting your own business, it’s critical to surround yourself with teammates who have complementary talents and contribute to a common goal.

Related: 10 Tips to Help You Boost Team Performance

6. Risk Tolerance

Entrepreneurship is often associated with risk. While it’s true that launching a venture requires an entrepreneur to take risks, they also need to take steps to minimize it.

While many things can go wrong when launching a new venture, many things can go right. According to Entrepreneurship Essentials , entrepreneurs who actively manage the relationship between risk and reward position their companies to “benefit from the upside.”

Successful entrepreneurs are comfortable with encountering some level of risk to reap the rewards of their efforts; however, their risk tolerance is tightly related to their efforts to mitigate it.

7. Comfort with Failure

In addition to risk-management and calculated decision-making , entrepreneurship requires a certain level of comfort with failure.

“Of startups that have more than one employee, 70 percent survive at least two years, half last at least five years, and a quarter last 15 years,” says Harvard Business School Professor William Sahlman in Entrepreneurship Essentials . “Even then, only a small fraction of the survivors get to be significant employers.”

The reasons for failure are vast and encompass everything from a lack of business scalability to low product-market fit . While many of these risks can be avoided, some are inevitable.

Despite this, entrepreneurs must prepare themselves for, and be comfortable with, failure. Rather than let fear hold them back, they maintain a positive attitude to allow the possibility of success to propel them forward.

Entrepreneurship Essentials | Succeed in the startup world | Learn More

8. Persistence

While many successful entrepreneurs are comfortable with the possibility of failing, it doesn’t mean they give up easily. Rather, they see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Throughout the entrepreneurial process, many hypotheses turn out to be wrong, and some ventures fail altogether. Part of what makes an entrepreneur successful is their willingness to learn from mistakes, ask questions, and persist until they reach their goal.

Related: How to Become a More Resilient Leader

9. Innovative Thinking

Innovation often goes hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship. While innovation in business can be defined as an idea that’s both novel and useful, it doesn’t always involve creating an entirely new product or service. Some of the most successful startups have taken existing products or services and drastically improved them to meet the changing needs of the market.

Although innovation doesn’t come naturally to every entrepreneur, it’s a type of strategic mindset that can be cultivated. By developing your problem-solving skills , you’ll be well-equipped to spot innovative opportunities and position your venture for success.

10. Long-Term Focus

Most people associate entrepreneurship with starting a business. While the early stages of launching a venture, such as securing funding , are critical to its success, the process doesn’t end once the business is operational.

According to Entrepreneurship Essentials , “it’s easy to start a business, but hard to grow a sustainable and substantial one. Some of the greatest opportunities in history were discovered well after a venture launched.”

Entrepreneurship is a long-term endeavor, and entrepreneurs must focus on the process from beginning to end to ensure long-term success.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

How to Develop the Qualities of an Entrepreneur

There’s no right or wrong way to be an entrepreneur. Characteristics and behaviors like experimentation, persistence, and innovation can be developed with time, experience, and training. As long as you possess the entrepreneurial spirit, you'll be able to seize opportunities and overcome challenges throughout your journey.

Are you interested in learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship? Explore our four-week online course Entrepreneurship Essentials and our other entrepreneurship and innovation courses to learn to speak the language of the startup world. If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

This post was updated on August 14, 2023. It was originally published on July 7, 2020.

characteristics of an entrepreneur essay pdf

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7.3: Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

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Learning Objectives

  • What characteristics do successful entrepreneurs share?

Do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? Having a great concept is not enough. An entrepreneur must be able to develop and manage the company that implements his or her idea. Being an entrepreneur requires special drive, perseverance, passion, and a spirit of adventure, in addition to managerial and technical ability. Entrepreneurs are the company; they tend to work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and cannot leave problems at the office at the end of the day. They also share other common characteristics as described in the next section.

The Entrepreneurial Personality

Studies of the entrepreneurial personality find that entrepreneurs share certain key traits. Most entrepreneurs are

  • Ambitious: They are competitive and have a high need for achievement.
  • Independent: They are individualists and self-starters who prefer to lead rather than follow.
  • Self-confident: They understand the challenges of starting and operating a business and are decisive and confident in their ability to solve problems.
  • Risk-takers: Although they are not averse to risk, most successful entrepreneurs favor business opportunities that carry a moderate degree of risk where they can better control the outcome over highly risky ventures where luck plays a large role.
  • Visionary: Their ability to spot trends and act on them sets entrepreneurs apart from small-business owners and managers.
  • Creative: To compete with larger firms, entrepreneurs need to have creative product designs, bold marketing strategies, and innovative solutions to managerial problems.
  • Energetic: Starting and operating a business takes long hours. Even so, some entrepreneurs start their companies while still employed full-time elsewhere.
  • Passionate. Entrepreneurs love their work, as Miho Inagi demonstrated by opening a bagel shop in Tokyo despite the odds against it being a success.
  • Committed. Because they are so committed to their companies, entrepreneurs are willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve their goals.

Ethics in Practice

Ethical choices transform family business into international brand.

Ever since Apollonia Poilâne was a young girl growing up in Paris, she always knew what she wanted to do when she grew up: take over the family business. But she didn’t anticipate how quickly this would happen. When her father—Lionel Poilâne—and her mother died in a helicopter crash in 2002, France lost its most celebrated baker, and Apollonia stepped into the role. She was just 18 years old at the time with plans to matriculate to Harvard in the fall, but the moment her parents had prepared her for had come. As her Harvard admissions essay said, “The work of several generations is at stake.”

With organization and determination, Apollonia managed one of the best French bakeries in the world—based in Paris—from her apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She would usually wake up an extra two hours before classes to make sure she would get all the phone calls done for work. “After classes I check on any business regarding the company and then do my homework,” she says. “Before I go to bed I call my production manager in Paris to check the quality of the bread.” Because the name Poilâne has earned a place with a very small group of prestige bakers, the 18-year-old was determined to continue the tradition of customer satisfaction and quality her grandfather established in 1932. When her grandfather suffered a stroke in 1973, his 28-year-old son, Lionel, poured his heart into the business and made the family bread into the global brand it is today. Lionel opened two more bakeries in Paris and another in London. He developed and nurtured a worldwide network of retailers and celebrities where bread is shipped daily via FedEx to upscale restaurants and wealthy clients around the world.

Experimenting with sourdough is what distinguished Poilâne’s products from bread produced by Paris’s other bakers, and it has remained the company’s signature product. It is baked with a “P” carved into the crust, a throwback to the days when the use of communal ovens forced bakers to identify their loaves, and it also ensures that the loaf doesn’t burst while it’s baking. Today, Poilâne also sells croissants, pastries, and a few specialty breads, but the company’s signature item is still the four-poundmiche, a wheel of sourdough, a country bread, pain Poilâne .

“Apollonia is definitely passionate about her job,” says Juliette Sarrazin, manager of the successful Poilâne Bakery in London. “She really believes in the work of her father and the company, and she is looking at the future, which is very good.”

Apollonia’s work ethic and passion fueled her drive even when she was a student. Each day presented a juggling act of new problems to solve in Paris while other Harvard students slept. As Apollonia told a student reporter from The Harvard Crimson writing a story about her, “The one or two hours you spend procrastinating I spend working. It’s nothing demanding at all. It was always my dream to run the company.”

Her dedication paid off, and Apollonia retained control of important decisions, strategy, and business goals, describing herself as the “commander of the ship,” determining the company’s overall direction. Today, Poilâne is an $18 million business that employs 160 people. Poilâne runs three restaurants called Cuisine de Bar in Paris and in London, serving casual meals such as soups, salads, and open-faced tartines . The company ships more than 200,000 loaves a year to clients in 20 countries, including the United States, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. “More people understand what makes the quality of the bread, what my father spent years studying, so I am thrilled about that,” says Apollonia.

Critical Thinking Questions

  • What type of entrepreneur is Apollonia Poilâne?
  • What personal ethics drove Apollonia’s decision to take over the family business?

Sources: “About Us,” https://www.poilane.com , accessed February 1, 2018; Meg Bortin, “Apollonia Poilâne Builds on Her Family’s Legacy,”The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com , accessed February 1, 2018; Lauren Collins, “Bread Winner: A Daughter Upholds the Traditions of France’s Premier Baking Dynasty,”The New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com , December 3, 2012; Gregory Katz, “Her Daily Bread,”American Waymagazine, July 15, 2005, p. 34; Clarel Antoine, “No Time to Loaf Around,” Harvard Crimson, http://www.thecrimson.com , October 16, 2003.

Most entrepreneurs combine many of the above characteristics. Sarah Levy, 23, loved her job as a restaurant pastry chef but not the low pay, high stress, and long hours of a commercial kitchen. So she found a new one—in her parents’ home—and launched Sarah’s Pastries and Candies. Part-time staffers help her fill pastry and candy orders to the soothing sounds of music videos playing in the background. Cornell University graduate Conor McDonough started his own web design firm, OffThePathMedia.com, after becoming disillusioned with the rigid structure of his job. “There wasn’t enough room for my own expression,” he says. “Freelancing keeps me on my toes,” says busy graphic artist Ana Sanchez. “It forces me to do my best work because I know my next job depends on my performance.” 7

Ashton Kutcher.png

Managerial Ability and Technical Knowledge

A person with all the characteristics of an entrepreneur might still lack the necessary business skills to run a successful company. Entrepreneurs need the technical knowledge to carry out their ideas and the managerial ability to organize a company, develop operating strategies, obtain financing, and supervise day-to-day activities. Jim Crane, who builtEagle Global Logisticsfrom a start-up into a $250 million company, addressed a group at a meeting saying, “I have never run a $250 million company before so you guys are going to have to start running this business.” 8

Good interpersonal and communication skills are important in dealing with employees, customers, and other business associates such as bankers, accountants, and attorneys. As we will discuss later in the chapter, entrepreneurs believe they can learn these much-needed skills. When Jim Steiner started his toner cartridge remanufacturing business,Quality Imaging Products, his initial investment was $400. He spent $200 on a consultant to teach him the business and $200 on materials to rebuild his first printer cartridges. He made sales calls from 8.00 a.m. to noon and made deliveries to customers from noon until 5:00 p.m. After a quick dinner, he moved to the garage, where he filled copier cartridges until midnight, when he collapsed into bed, sometimes covered with carbon soot. And this was not something he did for a couple of months until he got the business off the ground—this was his life for 18 months. 9 But entrepreneurs usually soon learn that they can’t do it all themselves. Often they choose to focus on what they do best and hire others to do the rest.

Concept Check

  • Describe the personality traits and skills characteristic of successful entrepreneurs.
  • What does it mean when we say that an entrepreneur should work on the business, not in it?

7. Martha Irvine, “More 20-Somethings Are Blazing Own Paths in Business,”San Diego Union-Tribune, November 22, 2004, p. C6.

8. Keith McFarland, “What Makes Them Tick,” Inc. 500 , October 19, 2005, www.inc.com.

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Entrepreneurship: Concepts, Theory and Perspective. Introduction

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The creation of a country's wealth and dynamism depends upon the competitiveness of its firms and this, in turn, relies fundamentally on the capabilities of its entrepreneurs and managers. The essence of the modern firm lies in the specialization of functions. " The businessmen " that manage economic activity are, in the strictest sense, both managers and entrepreneurs, the latter in a double sense: the individual businessman (independent) and the " corporate entrepreneur " who, without participating significantly in terms of capital, controls the firm. Studying offers of business capabilities requires the differentiation between the functions of entrepreneur, manager and capitalist, although in many cases, the same person may perform all three (table 1). The individual entrepreneur detects or creates business opportunities that he or she then exploits through small and medium-sized firms, normally participating in funding the capital for that firm, carries out the role of arbitrator or simply " sells the idea " of the business project. The " corporate entrepreneur " or the chief executive of large firms must also be considered. This figure is no longer limited to efficiently managing the firm's assets and coordinating and controlling its activities; in the current climate, he or she must anticipate, articulate and manage change. In other words, they must reinvent the firm on a daily basis, creating new enterprise (spin-offs) and develop company networks. When discussing the figure of the corporate businessman, one must also consider the key shareholders that take an active part in the firm, along with managers that share in making up the firm's basic competences.

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America’s Most Successful Startups pp 156–164 Cite as

The Qualities of an Entrepreneur

  • Max Finger 2 &
  • Oliver Samwer 2  

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The entrepreneur is breaking out of the norm, leaps around standard expectations, he is different by definition.

You have to create like a god, command like a king and work like a slave. (Ken Morse, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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Finger, M., Samwer, O. (1998). The Qualities of an Entrepreneur. In: America’s Most Successful Startups. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-663-09252-0_30

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Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics Essay

An Entrepreneur is a person who owns an enterprise; he/she manages the enterprise and assumes all the risks of that enterprise. “The difference between a successful entrepreneur and a failed one is that a successful entrepreneur is the one who lives in the future and is creative,” (Scarborough, 2003). They will always thrive on any change that is before him. When we relate this character to Bill, we see Bill as innovative and a good craftsman to the point of him being loved by the customers including Mr. Hugo.

There are some characteristics traits which make Bill to be a self confident man, this has been seen when the owner wants to give the control of the shop to Bill after he retires from the shop and he knows that Hugo Shop will prosper under the control of Bill. Bill is realistic, he accepts the management of Hugo shop because he knows the problems Mr. Hugo was going through in maintaining the shop and thus is in a position to deal with those problems if they arise. “Mr. Hugo and his wife found satisfaction in the symbol of success in their business and they wanted to continue that tradition of success with the shop; they are leaving the shop to Bill because he is the right candidate” (Scarborough, 2003).

There are some characteristic traits which can hinder Bill from succeeding in his new business. Firstly lack of planning, business planning is so important, “it requires one to analyze every business situation and problems which may occur in the day to day running of the business” (Scarborough, 2003), and it is through business planning that one is able to achieve set goals that you have set for your business. Secondly if Bill does not manage his money wisely he is bound to fail miserably because the lifeblood of any business is the cash flow. Bill needs to buy inventory and pay for the raw materials that are needed in the shop and at the same time he needs money to pay for his wages. Bill should be keen when handling money, he should make sure that the cash flow in the Hugo shop keep flowing and the bills are paid right on time because many business have wound up due to the owner negligence with the cash of the business.Bill should take everything seriously in order not to fail, but if he become lazy he will be easily be sidetracked by the business and he will no longer be motivated in the running of the business.

In order for Bill’s business to succeed he must take many things into consideration. Firstly, Bill should remember it is through the customers and not about the products or the services that he will be selling or the price that he will be selling his products, “but if the customer is satisfied, the business will succeed “(Moore 2005). Anything Bill will do to his business must be focused on customers including all the policies of the business and he can achieve this through advertising, “opening early and closing late than the normal business around that location and lastly he must be friendly to his customers” (Moore, 2005).

The terms of sales by Mr. Hugo were good because instead of being given a lump sum of money at a go. Mr. Hugo knew Bill was a hardworking man and he can turn the shop into a successful one when it is under Bill management, part of the profit which will be realized under Bill’s ownership will go directly to Mr. Hugo, with that he will have a say on the shop even if he retires.

Reference List

  • Moore, C.W. (2005). Small business management: an entrepreneurial emphasis . New York: Cengage Learning Publisher.
  • Scarborough, N.M. (2003). Effective small business management: an entrepreneurial approach . London: Prentice Hall Publisher.
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2021, December 26). Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics. https://ivypanda.com/essays/successful-entrepreneur-main-characteristics/

"Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics." IvyPanda , 26 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/successful-entrepreneur-main-characteristics/.

IvyPanda . (2021) 'Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics'. 26 December.

IvyPanda . 2021. "Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/successful-entrepreneur-main-characteristics/.

1. IvyPanda . "Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/successful-entrepreneur-main-characteristics/.


IvyPanda . "Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/successful-entrepreneur-main-characteristics/.

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10 characteristics for becoming a successful entrepreneur

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What is an entrepreneur?

The 4 types of entrepreneurs, what are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur, 5 common mistakes to avoid as an entrepreneur, improve your entrepreneurial skills, are you ready to build the future.

It all starts with an idea. 

Starting a company can be intimidating. You may need to take out a loan, lease a commercial property, or hire staff. The details can feel overwhelming . 

But if you’ve been working a 9–5 for years, you might feel like you’ve stopped growing. You’re grateful for the people who helped you grow because now you’re ready to use your skills in your own business venture. You know have entrepreneur characteristics and want to know where to start. 

The right person will thrive in this environment. They have the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to make it happen and will feel more at peace running their own company than they ever would in an office job.

An entrepreneur is someone passionate and innovative who creates a new business. Their business doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel — your favorite neighborhood café is a business, too — but it takes an entrepreneurial mindset to bring their ideas to life. 

Entrepreneurship is all about pursuing opportunities. It’s about looking for areas to provide a service or a new product the public might need. It’s also about taking the initiative to bring your ideas to life. 

For example, in the 1970s, Steve Jobs noticed computers were popular among hobbyists but inaccessible to the average consumer.  He saw an untapped market with huge potential — he just needed to create user-friendly products. From the Apple 1 computer to the iPhone, he did exactly that. His company became one of the most profitable businesses in the world .

At their core, entrepreneurs are individuals who start a business. But on a deeper level, they’re people who innovate. Someone who starts a business is comfortable with discomfort and pushing the limits of their comfort zone. They see challenges and think of creative ways to overcome them . They fill society with new ideas and keep refreshing the old ones.

When we think of an entrepreneur, we might think of big names like Henry Ford or Bill Gates. But you don’t have to fund a Fortune 500 company to walk in their shoes. 

Entrepreneurs come in many forms, whether they yearn to be their own boss or disrupt the status quo. Here are some common types of self-starters you might run into:

1. The inventor

This person wants to create the next big thing. They see the big picture, imagine products or business ideas that don’t exist yet, and work to bring them into reality. 

2. The small business owner

Small business entrepreneurs employ less than 500 workers. These people operate everything from small consultancies to popular local restaurants. They understand the value of hard work and leading a talented team of employees. 

3. The online entrepreneur 

Whether it’s a side hustle  or a full-time job, these entrepreneurs make the Internet work for them. They might sell products on Etsy, maintain a popular financial blog, or develop software to distribute online. But no matter what, they have a direct relationship with clients through their online business. 

4. The home business owner

These people use their homes as their home base. A family plumbing business might use its home garage to store equipment. On the other hand, an artisan soap maker could use the basement as their production line. These people make their space work for them.


Starting a new business comes with an inherent amount of risk . You can do everything right, but external events could lead to a negative outcome. While there’s no formula for entrepreneurship, there are good or bad entrepreneur characteristics. 

Here are some skills you need to become a successful entrepreneur:

1. Discipline

The number one quality of an entrepreneur is self-discipline . You need to do the work — even when you don’t feel like it. 

If you have a day job, this could mean working long hours . You'll need the self-motivation to wake up early or stay up late as you start your new venture. 

2. Curiosity

The best entrepreneurs always want to learn more . They ask good questions and look for opportunities to grow themselves and their business. These people don’t dwell on what they think they know but instead, change their opinions when presented with new information.

Curiosity to learn is just part of how they approach the world. 


3. Creativity 

This is the spark that drives many successful startups. Creativity isn't just for creatives , it's a skill that everyone can cultivate. Entrepreneurs always look for creative ways to solve problems or deliver a service, often with limited resources.

They look in many different places for inspiration, and their creativity helps fuel their love for what they do . Find what gives you ideas and use it as your fuel. To cultivate this skill, lean on habits that support creativity. It could be music, meditation , or meeting new people. 

4. Willingness to try things

As an entrepreneur, you’ll constantly be presented with new tasks that challenge your skillset. Resourcefulness goes hand-in-hand with experimentation and problem-solving. Be ready to get creative, think outside the box , and pull from your vast network, experiences, and skills to take on a challenge. 

Prepare to watch your solution fail, too. It’s inevitable, and every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve on your ideas. 

If you strategize well and outline metrics for tracking success, you can quickly make adjustments and find appropriate solutions. Show your product to a trusted group of friends, read market research to see if there’s adequate demand, and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news.

These strategies will help you take calculated risks while trying new things.

In the business world, you’re only as good as your word. Honesty and integrity are important traits of an entrepreneur. These personality traits will reap several benefits:

  • You will develop a reputation as a strong and honest communicator
  • Your employees will value your leadership
  • Clients will know you can deliver on your promises
  • People will be more willing to lend you money for your next idea
  • Your community will support you during tough times

6. Always have a plan

Successful businesses leave little up to chance. They look far into the future , with backup plans to adapt to unexpected events.

You should have a vision for your company 5–10 years from now . To bring that vision to life, you can use the SMART goal-setting method to set short and long-term business goals .

These are goals that are:

  • Specific: What is the exact outcome you’re hoping for?
  • Measurable: How will you know you achieved this outcome?
  • Achievable: Is it reasonable for you to expect to achieve this goal?
  • Realistic: Can you arrive at your goal with your current resources?
  • Time-Bound: Do you have a clear deadline for your goal?

Each goal should build on the last, bringing you closer to your vision and closer to reality. Also, remember that a lot can change over the years. You’re allowed to adjust your plan if needed.

Colleagues Working-On-Project-In-Office

7. Understanding the value of self-care

Great leaders understand that exhaustion and overwork are a recipe for disaster. They may have all the skills in the world. But, without proper wellness , they won’t be able to execute. Budgeting time for self-care will pay you back tenfold.

The same philosophy applies to your employees. Make sure they understand the value of their work and encourage them to rest when they need it. They will pay you back with a positive attitude and stronger work ethic.

8. Taking risks

Risk takers often do well as business leaders. But you should be clear on your approach, and have a backup plan ready to go should things go awry. 

This is a characteristic of a good entrepreneur because business owners often need to go off the beaten path. This can be scary but entrepreneurs must set aside their fears and take the leap needed to make their vision come to life.

9. Adaptability

The world is constantly changing — and so is how we do business. Entrepreneurs have no shortage of unexpected challenges and surprise opportunities, so they must act quickly and efficiently.

This adaptability is what makes a successful business, and it’s particularly true for entrepreneurs with a Millennial workforce . Rather than trying to force templates that worked in the past, entrepreneurs must be flexible to changing norms like hybrid work models and offering better employee work-life balance .

10. Persistence after failure

Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure isn’t the end of the world. Instead, failure is a rehearsal for success. Persisting despite any roadblocks increases your confidence, conviction, creativity, and innovation.

If you fail, you learn lessons to apply to the next challenge and teach yourself you’re grittier than you thought. All that radical thinking may lead to radical results. 

It’s easy to make mistakes if this is your first time launching a business, but maybe we can help you avoid a few. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Not sticking to your budget

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re starting out. Be careful not to blow your budget too quickly. Stick to the essentials for now, like hiring the right staff, investing in the right tools, and building out your client list. The rest will come later.

2. Making ill-advised hiring decisions

Your business will thrive or die based on who you hire. Choose your employees wisely. Look for people who share your entrepreneurial mindset and have experience working at a new business. 

It’s also useful to find people who have different expertise than you to cover any of your blind spots. If you think you're team could use assistance in getting up to speed, you might want to think about providing them with business coaching .

3. Setting unachievable goals

Don’t expect to make the NASDAQ in your first year. Set achievable goals when you’re starting out. Stick the to SMART method we outlined above.

4. Forgetting to delegate

You hired great people. Use them! Many entrepreneurs don't know how to delegate to others or they're afraid to. Consider whether you need to own a task. You can't control everything so only keep the most important ones.

Assign tasks based on others' strengths, set clear expectations, and check in with them regularly. They’re your team and they will deliver. 

5. Making decisions out of fear

Clear your head before making big decisions. Emotions like fear, anger, or frustration can cloud your judgment. 

When you encounter a stressful situation, take a step back, be mindful of your feelings , and approach the problem later with a clear mind .


Modern leaders need an increasingly long list of managerial skills . Here’s what you should work on as you develop your business:

  • Persuasiveness
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication skills
  • Flexibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Active listening

You might have the seed of an idea — but now it’s time to water it.  

With careful training, planning, and execution, you can watch your idea grow into a successful business. Before you know it, customers will be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

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Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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  • Entrepreneurship

Characteristics of Entrepreneurship

Updated 28 September 2023

Subject Entrepreneurship

Downloads 57

Category Business

An entrepreneur is a person who takes a concept, creates a business with that idea, operates the business, and accepts the risk for its profit. An entrepreneur develops an enterprise with the intention to fulfill a need in the market that will ensure the success of the business. The need to discover new markets drives most entrepreneurs. Currently, new solutions discovered by entrepreneurs address a large percentage of the world’s most pressing issues, for example, zero-carbon housing, and distance learning among many others. Entrepreneurship offers a distinct chance to think outside the box when it comes to business engagement, social enterprises, and philanthropic efforts.

Difference between Entrepreneurs’ and Business Managers’ Character Traits and Skills

Successful entrepreneurs are people who develop businesses by taking calculated risks to get profits. Business managers are people who control and oversee the operations of businesses. Most often than not, a business manager is an employed personnel who depends on a salary whereas an entrepreneur is a business owner. Successful entrepreneurs seek achievement whereas power motivates business managers. It is for this reason that passion and motivation drive successful entrepreneurs, which are very important attributes. Because of this enthusiasm, successful entrepreneurs create, implement, and pitch ideas to investors in the hope that their determination will lead to the profitability of their companies.

Entrepreneurs and business managers like to take risks. However, successful entrepreneurs make plans just in case their risk turns out to be unsuccessful. For the unforeseen circumstances, they keep in store a plan “b”, resources and time. Successful entrepreneurs venture into a business hoping for the best, at the same time they prepare for the worst. This trait makes successful entrepreneurs strong money managers. Such entrepreneurs know that it takes time for a business to become profitable. Thus, money is limited and it is crucial to use it wisely, to sustain the business. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be flexible when it comes to market or consumer needs. Since most business managers are not the owners, they do not have the same flexibility. The prosperity of these entrepreneurs is that they accept suggestions for customization that would satisfy the needs of the market.

Successful British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is one example of an entrepreneur whose prosperity comes from taking calculated risks. He is the creator of Virgin Group, an enterprise which controls more than 380 businesses worldwide (Virgin, 2018). His entrepreneurial enthusiasm began at the young age of 16 (CNBC, 2017). His business ventures include megastores, airline, music label, space tourism, and space science, among other businesses. According to Branson, he managed to build his multi-billion businesses through taking great, but calculated risks. Furthermore, he said that successful entrepreneurs take necessary risks to ensure the prosperity of their businesses (Virgin, 2018). Those who fear failure will never take required risks, a characteristic of a doomed entrepreneur. Therefore, calculated risk-taking is the foundation of a successful entrepreneur.

 Bill Gates is a global entrepreneur mostly known as the primary founder of Microsoft. Besides that, he is also an investor, and philanthropist (The Biography.com, 2018). He is one of the richest men in the world and a big mentor to many entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs around the world can learn several traits from this billionaire. Successful entrepreneurs always remember that they are in a highly competitive world of startups. As such, they move fast and keep innovating. Successful entrepreneurs know value time which makes the use it well during their productive hours. Successful entrepreneurs fail and learn from their mistakes. According to Gates, those mistakes teach the best lessons. Successful entrepreneurs never give up even when faced with challenges and obstacles. Instead they persevere and persist because they know there is nothing like overnight success. These distinct attributes distinguish successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones.

Entrepreneurial motivation and mindset

The first aspect of an entrepreneurial mindset is that an entrepreneur creates revenues through submarket products and services. A submarket product or service is when a company designs an innovative strategy with the intention of making money by solving a social problem. Submarkets are those markets deemed as impossible to garner profits, thus, are not the priority of many organizations. Submarkets can be social or geographic (Saul, 2011, p. 45). The three key drivers that enable submarket products and services to be a viable business are disruptive innovation, short-tail economics and bottom-of-the-pyramidization. The whole idea behind this strategy is for businesses to solve social problems by leveraging on commercial products and services. This is not a philanthropic gesture, but a business proposition. Of course, there are charity and government programs which have attempted to find solutions to these social problems, but they are only temporary solutions. It is becoming quite clear that most, if not all of social problems, should be solved through business solutions. This strategy works by identifying social problems, which the business can solve by addressing distinct market requirements and being highly innovative.

The second major aspect is that entrepreneurs tend to enter new markets through backdoor channels (Small Business Trends, 2018). The aspect of backdoor market entry is forging new markets through the gateway of social change (Saul, 2011, p. 56). The key to successful penetration of the new markets requires a lot of ingenuity and tricky maneuvers. Thus, businesses can enter new markets by legitimately trying to solve societal problems. The backdoor market strategy works when an entrepreneur identifies social barriers and opportunities, by creatively linking social value to the core business, and through forming credible partnerships.

The third aspect is entrepreneurs build emotional bonds with consumers. This mindset is about maximizing the customer’s experience to solve social problems, which in turn helps build lasting loyalty to the business (Saul, 2011, p. 68). Today’s world is very brutal and competitive whereby most goods and services from different companies highly resemble each other. Entrepreneurs successfully develop more real and human associations between the business, its customers, employees and partners.    

The fourth major aspect is to influence policy through reverse lobbying. Many entrepreneurs are now working with governments to solve social issues (Saul, 2011, p. 92). Governments have specific policies and agendas that they hope to achieve when in office. Entrepreneurs are stepping in to offer assistance that advances certain policy priorities, which benefit the interests of both the business and the public. This strategy is referred to as "reverse lobbying" because entrepreneurs are collaborating with governments to solve social problems while earning the business a profit. This strategy works by looking at where social change can increase the most value to the core business objectives, establish a direct nexus to company value, find the best resources to address the issue, be proactive and quick in solving the issues and utilizing a wraparound strategy to scale.

The fifth major aspect of an entrepreneurial mindset is one social innovation. The world of business is changing fast. Many factors are influencing these changes such as disease, drought, economic instability, and political unrest (Bates, 2012, p. 5). Corporations have realized that it does not matter whether a company is in the developed or developing world, because the world is inextricably connected. As a result, there is a great need for social transformations. Governments have tried to find solutions, but they are insufficient. Thus, companies are quickly changing how they conduct business through social innovation (Dees, Emerson " Economy, 2001). In order for a business to affect the community through social innovation, it first has to understand the needs of the people, to find out how it can fulfill those needs. Therefore, social enterprises can profit the business and solve societal problems.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a social enterprise that seeks to enhance lives and minimize inequities globally. It mainly deals with global development, global health, and the US program that focuses on providing access to technology and education for low-income communities. Social innovation involves solving societal problems by creating distinct products and services. The BMGF is an organization that believes all lives have equal value and as such, it works to ensure that all people lead healthy and rewarding lives. Thus, its objectives are in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which includes eradication of poverty, and hunger, improve maternal health, develop a global partnership for development, and achieve universal primary education among others. The BMGF donates to organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Medicines for Malaria Venture, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and so forth (Orlina, 2016) (UNICEF, 2018) (World Health Organization, 2018). The BMGF partners with these organizations to better understand and solve the problems facing these communities.

In its aims to enhance global development, the BMGF has significantly contributed to the acceleration of the economies of Africa and Asia. This development has resulted in an improved business environment, better macroeconomic policies and a political climate that is making strides in the right direction. The BMGF has collaborated with other public and private sectors to advance focus on technology, science, and other innovations that influence the growth of these economies. The BMGF funds many research organizations to find lasting solutions to a number of societal problems. Some of the research organizations in partnership with the BMGF are Family planning, Agricultural research, Basic sanitation, Tuberculosis control, and Infectious disease control, among others. So far, the BMGF has collaborated with several international governments to provide innovative sanitation products and services like pit emptying, toilet designs and new ways to reuse waste. The field of social entrepreneurship has advanced through the research efforts of the BMGF. 

How background and experiences either hinder or foster entrepreneurship

In today’s world, schools teach Entrepreneurship. However, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world were never taught this expertise in school. Many factors hinder or foster entrepreneurship. Lack of resources is a hindrance to entrepreneurship. Aspiring entrepreneurs who come from a poor background may lack the necessary resources or education needed to create a business. Nevertheless, the same poverty has a way of bringing out the true entrepreneurial trait in those people who are aggressive and do not see their underprivileged background as an obstacle to success. Most successful entrepreneurs all had one thing in common; they delayed gratification. This means that when they started their companies and they became successful, they knew they had to first limit luxuries and kept reinvesting in their businesses until they grew into conglomerates. A person who comes from a poor background knows how it feels to lack. Their unfortunate experiences make a majority of them to delay gratitude once their startups begin becoming successful. Such entrepreneurs have the drive and motivation to keep focus on the growth of the company, rather than celebrate its initial success by misusing profits. However, an individual who comes from a wealthy background is fortunate enough to learn through family experiences. In addition, such an entrepreneur may immediately have adequate resources to start a company. Thus, a person’s background and experience plays a major role in the success of an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is about looking at all things from a positive side. Indeed, successful entrepreneurs think in terms of how to achieve something instead of making excuses. Initial resource endowments never limit the options of entrepreneurs. Rather, in every situation they find endless opportunities to pursue. Being a risk taker, open-minded, willing to learn, persistent, philanthropic, and innovative are all key factors of successful entrepreneurs. They may own different businesses, but their strategy and mindset is very similar.

Bates, S. M. (2012). The social innovation imperative: create winning products, services, and programs that solve society's most pressing challenges. McGraw Hill Professional.

CNBC. (2017). Richard Branson says successful entrepreneurs share these five skills. Retrieved from http://www.mscmp.com/tech/leaders-founders/article/2067097/richard-branson-successful-entrepreneurs-share-these-five

Dees, G. J., Emerson J. " Economy P. (2001). Enterprising Nonprofits. A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs. John Wiley " Sons.

Orlina, E.C. (2016). Top Bill " Melinda Gates Foundation Grant Implementers for 2015. Retrieved from http://www.devex.com/news/top-bill-melinda-gates-foundation-grant-implementers-for-2015-88513

Saul, J. (2011). Social Innovation, Inc.: 5 strategies for driving business growth through social change. John Wiley " Sons.

Small Business Trends. (2018). 10 Mindsets of Successful Entrepreneurs

The Biography.com. (2018). Bill Gates Biography. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/bill-gates-9307520 

UNICEF. (2018). Malaria. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/health/files

Virgin. (2018). About Us. Retrieved from http://www.virgin.com/virgingroup/content/about-us

Virgin. (2018). Richard Branson takes risks, don’t avoid them. Retrieved from http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-take-risks-dont-avoid-them

World Health Organization. (2018). Sanitation. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sanitation

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Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs

Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs

People increasingly believe that an entrepreneur person can have teeter control of his/her future than others. In order to become a true entrepreneur, first of all, it is essential to examine the extent to which I am perceived as a potential entrepreneur. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the entrepreneur characteristics I currently possess, as well as exploring certain contexts in which some crucial characteristics can be further developed towards a successful entrepreneur. Characteristics of entrepreneurs Dressier and Swart (201 0, Pl) make a good point in their article.

As they suggested, comparing with the influence of entrepreneurs diplomas, business knowledge and craftsmanship on a business’s success, the personal characteristics of the entrepreneur seems play an even more important role. It is known to us that the personal characteristics and traits are the results of both genetics and social environment, which leads to the diversity of entrepreneurs. We celebrate the unique of each entrepreneur, however, it is worth to mention that there are still common traits that individual entrepreneurs tend to share together.

Here I would like to discuss some that personally consider as “classic” ones. According to Salmon(2007), a professor at Harvard Business School, an entrepreneur is the type of person who is willing to pursue opportunities beyond the current recourses and competences, where high uncertainty exists. This makes it clear that most of entrepreneurs are able to live in uncertain circumstances. In other words, we can say they are adventurous risk-takers. Usually, an entrepreneur is required to have strong risk-taking ability , which to some degree, differentiates them from other people.

Furthermore, qualified entrepreneur individuals always come with an innovative brain. They consistently come up with new ideas to make money or develop their business. Especially in today’s changing global economy, innovation and creativity cannot be taken apart from entrepreneurship. In order to sustain competitive advantages, being innovative has already been regarded as one of the most essential characteristics of entrepreneurs.

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    Prevalence of characteristics in entrepreneurs vs. other populations 1.1.1 Big-5 model 1.1.2 Self-efficacy and innovativeness 1.1.3 Locus of control 1.1.4 Need for achievement . 1.2 Correlation of personality traits with venture phases 1.2.1 Probability of entry into entrepreneurship

  2. (PDF) Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

    Desai (2001) revealed the important personality traits. leading to the success are emotional stability, personal rela-. tions, consideration and tactfulness. Ehigie and Umoren (2003) in their ...

  3. 10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

    5. Self-Awareness. A great entrepreneur is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Rather than letting shortcomings hold them back, they build well-rounded teams that complement their abilities. In many cases, it's the entrepreneurial team, rather than an individual, that drives a business venture toward success.

  4. 7.3: Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

    A person with all the characteristics of an entrepreneur might still lack the necessary business skills to run a successful company. Entrepreneurs need the technical knowledge to carry out their ideas and the managerial ability to organize a company, develop operating strategies, obtain financing, and supervise day-to-day activities.

  5. Entrepreneurial Personality Essay: Traits & Characteristics

    The trait requires a lot of persistence and the ability to recover in case of a period of downturn. It is not easy to attain success within a short time. Therefore, an entrepreneur should exercise a lot of patience and should not easily give up when things go wrong . Dedication is another important personality trait of a successful entrepreneur.

  6. PDF Introduction to Entrepreneurship

    The entrepreneur theme is the idea that entrepreneurship involves individuals with unique personality characteristics and abilities (e.g., risk-taking, locus of control, autonomy, perseverance, commitment, vision, creativity). Almost 50% of the respondents rated these characteristics as not important to a definition of

  7. PDF Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

    Characteristics of Entrepreneurs. William Sahlman, professor at Harvard Business School, argues that entrepreneurship is not about possessing the right psychological traits, but that it is about a way of managing that is focused on opportunity pursuit, future orientation and relentless execution regardless of the resources one actually possesses.

  8. (PDF) Entrepreneurship: Concepts, Theory and Perspective. Introduction

    The study of entrepreneurs as individuals analyzes the variables that explain their appearance, such as personal characteristics, the psychological profile (the need for achievement, the capacity to control, tolerance of ambiguity and a tendency to take risks) or non-psychological variables (education, experience, networks, the family, etc.).

  9. PDF Essays on Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    Essays on Entrepreneurship and Innovation Abstract These essays investigate the role of entrepreneurial human capital as a driver of innovation and growth. In the first chapter, I estimate the effect of manager education on firm employment growth using administrative panel data on the universe of firms in Portugal between 1995 and 2009.

  10. PDF 30. The Qualities of an Entrepreneur

    The entrepreneur is breaking out of the norm, leaps around standard expectations, he is different by definition. 30.1 Visionary An entrepreneur does not have to be blessed with mystical or super-human visionary qualities, but you have to have a clear vision where the world is going and how you can make the world a lot better.

  11. (PDF) Definition, Meaning, and Necessary Characteristics of

    The proposed definition of Entrepreneurs hip. " Entrepreneurship is the process of innovation and/or opportunity identification to. create new and unique values in the form of products ( goods ...

  12. Successful Entrepreneur: Main Characteristics Essay

    An Entrepreneur is a person who owns an enterprise; he/she manages the enterprise and assumes all the risks of that enterprise. "The difference between a successful entrepreneur and a failed one is that a successful entrepreneur is the one who lives in the future and is creative," (Scarborough, 2003). They will always thrive on any change ...

  13. Entrepreneurship: Definitions, opportunities, challenges, and future

    An entrepreneur may know how best to establish their business idea based on their connections within the market (Ratten, 2020b). Thus, there is a personal dimension to the process of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs may have common characteristics such as determination and resilience that help them in the market (Ratten, 2021).

  14. PDF The Personality Characteristics of an Entrepreneur and Their Effects on

    1.1 Background of the thesis. This thesis topic emerged from the author's own personal interest to make sense of the wide amount of entrepreneurship literature, concentrating especially on the studies of the entrepreneur as an individual. The author is interested in becoming an entrepreneur herself in the near future and the studies linked to ...

  15. (PDF) Entrepreneurial Mindset: An Integrated Definition, A Review of

    Zhang and Chun (2018, p. 959) "Entrepreneurial mindset relates to how entrepreneurs think of success, failure, and difficulty in the entrepreneurship process."

  16. PDF Chapter 3 Entrepreneurs: Key Characteristics and Skills

    To accomplish their goals and make their vision a reality, successful entrepreneurs must have. drive, persistence, the ability to complete tasks,and be. willing to work hard. Additionally, they are. opportunity-focusedand forward-looking. They are able to set both short- and long-term goals.

  17. What is entrepreneurship?

    Characteristics of an entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial mindset combines several different skills that require careful development for the successful achievement of a business idea. For example, an entrepreneur must be able to balance an understanding of how business works — including from a financial and operational perspective — with a ...

  18. 10 Characteristics of an Entrepreneur: Qualities to Be Successful

    This is a characteristic of a good entrepreneur because business owners often need to go off the beaten path. This can be scary but entrepreneurs must set aside their fears and take the leap needed to make their vision come to life. 9. Adaptability. The world is constantly changing — and so is how we do business.

  19. Characteristics of Entrepreneurship

    An entrepreneur is a person who takes a concept, creates a business with that idea, operates the business, and accepts the risk for its profit. An entrepreneur develops an enterprise with the intention to fulfill a need in the market that will ensure the success of the business. The need to discover new markets drives most entrepreneurs.

  20. 13 must-have traits of a successful entrepreneur

    4. Perseverance. I believe entrepreneurs can be both born and made. The top characteristic is the ability to overcome adversity and persevere. In fact, these skills have been shown to be ...

  21. ⇉Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs Essay Example

    The Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs Business. Entrepreneur can be defined as an tireless visionary with a clear end ; willing to take hazard: willing to force boundaries to develop market ; Persistent but patient and finding to win as a professional director and a good communicator ( Forbat, 2007 ) . Entrepreneurship are frequently associated ...

  22. (PDF) What is an Entrepreneur?

    An entrepreneur can. be understood as someone who has (1) the desire to achieve the goals of economic survival and. advancement, (2) the social constitution, and (3) the gove rnment's ...

  23. NAMELESS- ECONOMICS Entrepenuership essay (pdf)

    NAMELESS 1 NAMELESS TEACHER 14 DECEMBER 2022 ECONOMICS Dear Investors, I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to share an exciting decision I have made—to embark on a journey as an entrepreneur. I believe that entrepreneurship embodies the spirit of innovation, resilience, and the pursuit of turning ideas into reality. It is an opportunity to create something meaningful and ...