3 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

I responded to a reporter’s inquiry recently about the traits of successful entrepreneurs. I love responding to questions like this because they cause me to be introspective and think about things that I believe have contributed to my own success–and that may be, potentially, helpful to others. As I look back on my career, and the launch of my business in 2008 (still going strong almost seven years later!), there are a few key points that come to mind.

I grew up in a family-owned business, so the entrepreneurial spirit may well have been ingrained in me from a very young age. And, while at the time I wouldn’t have admitted it, those early lessons were likely foundational in helping me develop important traits that I believe are critical to anyone’s success, whether an entrepreneur or simply someone hoping to succeed in personal and professional ways.

There are many traits that entrepreneurs should have, and some vary depending on the type of business, product, or service they are providing. But, I would say there are three traits most critical in an entrepreneur:

1) Tenacity. Starting and running a business is not easy; there are peaks and valleys, and some days are better than others. Importantly, entrepreneurs can’t give up easily, shouldn’t let setbacks sidetrack them from their goals and objectives, and should strive to have a positive, can-do approach to their work.

2) Focus. Particularly in the early days of establishing a business, it can be tempting to try to be all things to all people — after all, you need the business! But, the best approach is to identify a specific area of focus. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but focus leads to greater success than taking a shotgun approach. Focus reflects the “positioning” part of segmenting, targeting and positioning — key elements of marketing effectiveness.

3) The ability to let go. Entrepreneurs can’t expand their businesses or their reach if they aren’t able to let go of elements of the work they do. It’s somewhat of a Catch-22. Generally you start your business because you’re passionate about the work you do. But, as your business grows and demand increases, you can’t possibly continue to do it all. At that point, those who will be successful need to identify and begin to delegate or outsource those things that others may be able to do better than they can. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it requires some humility in terms of recognizing that “no, I’m not the only person in the world that can do this well…”

Those are my top three. What would you add to the list?

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