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The Top 10 Qualities That Define An Entrepreneur

Sujan Patel

How do you know if you’re an entrepreneur? Well, if you’ve already started your own business, then that’s a pretty big giveaway!

But what if you’re just considering it, but you’re not sure you’re cut out for the task. If so, then read on for the following list of the top 10 qualities that, in my experience, define an entrepreneur.

If you see yourself reflected in at least a few of the items on this list, you’re likely on the right track!

Willingness to Take Risks

This is the one everyone thinks of first, so let’s get it out of the way. Yes, entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks. In fact, they have to believe in their dream strongly enough to pursue it when everyone else thinks they are crazy. Going against the “wisdom” of more traditionally-minded friends and family members isn’t easy, but it is often - unfortunately - necessary.

However, this isn’t the only key trait that entrepreneurs must possess. Another very important one is…

Discipline with Money

There are a lot of risk-takers out there who will go down in flames. So how can you tell that you’re really cut out to be a business owner - not just an adventurer? Well, one top quality of successful entrepreneurs is that they’re disciplined with their money. They don’t waste money on needless costs. They know what they have and they use it wisely to pursue their goals.

Fortunately, this is a quality you can learn. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always as financially responsible as I should have when I was first getting started as a business owner. It took a few tough lessons to teach me to be more frugal with my money - even if that meant forgoing fun expenses like new office furniture and team lunches. Learn from my mistakes and practice financial discipline as early as possible in your entrepreneurial career.

Related Article: Are Entrepreneurs Nothing More Than Problem Solvers?

Not Afraid to Ask for the Sale

Many people want to be an entrepreneur because they want to make money doing what they love. That’s fine, but one thing that separates hobbyists from true business professionals is the ability to ask for the sale. Successful entrepreneurs are willing to ask someone to pay them for their work, and they aren’t afraid to hear “no” in the pursuit of “yes.”

If you aren’t yet comfortable asking for the sale, practice in low stakes situations first. Ask for complimentary upgrades or special discounts while shopping. Over time, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for what you want in a business setting.


Anyone stepping into the waters of business ownership should be very clear on the fact that it won’t always be calm and sunny. There will be plenty of storms and plenty of days when you wonder why in the world you founded this business. You’ll face discouragement, setbacks, and times when you have to re-route your course altogether. Entrepreneurs who are tenacious have what it takes to survive these difficult times; those who don’t will flounder.

Invests in Marketing

“If you build it, they will come,” only works in the movies. As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t spend on frivolous costs, but you should always invest in marketing. In fact, I know a successful business owner who puts it this way - “Always pay Mark first.” Mark is the name he gave to his marketing budget. He realized if no one knew what he did or why it would benefit them, his business would end before it had even begun.

Related Article: Stop Wondering: 7 Signs You’re Ready for Full-Time Entrepreneurship

Be an Artful Negotiator

You may not be an artful negotiator right now, but if you want to be successful in business, it’s a skill you’ll have to learn right away. Negotiation happens in every stage of business - whether you’re dealing with a client, a supplier, or your staff. A successful entrepreneur develops the ability to create solutions where everyone wins. 

Be Customer-Focused

Successful entrepreneurs are focused on their customers. Not only do they provide great customer service, all of their sales copy and website material is aimed at describing how they help customers with their deepest needs. No one can be a successful entrepreneur if they don’t have a clear understanding of their target customer and his or her fears, desires, and dreams.

Willingness to Always be Learning

It’s been said that the only constant is change, and that’s truer in business today than it ever has been before. A successful entrepreneur knows that learning is never finished, and that there’s always something new to be discovered about the industry, business, or competition. By always being willing to learn, you’ll set yourself up to grow your skills and become a strong expert in your field.

Related Article: 9 Daily Habits of Exceptional Entrepreneurs

High Integrity

Business owners without integrity may be successful for a short time, but they’ll always be found out in the end. A lack of integrity gives your business a faulty foundation, and questionable accounting, personnel, or business practices will always ultimately undermine your company. A successful entrepreneur is a person of great integrity who builds businesses with outstanding reputations - not somebody who cheats and steals his way to the top.

Ability to Build a Top-Notch Team

No entrepreneur can do everything themselves, which is why building a team becomes a necessity at one point or another. Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to know what they aren’t good at or don’t enjoy, and to hire someone who’s capable and skilled in that particular area.

Perhaps human resources isn’t your forte - in that case, a personnel manager should be your first hire. Maybe you’re a strong salesperson, but a lousy administrator. In that case, an assistant can help keep your enterprise organized. By investing in building the right team, you’ll set your business up for success.

You might read this list and feel disappointed if you don’t see yourself as possessing all of these qualities. But don’t worry! Nobody starts out with all ten, but they can be learned, practiced, and applied until they become part of you. As you continually invest in yourself, you’ll see your abilities as a business owner - and the success of your company - grow exponentially.

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Sujan Patel Member
Sujan writes about business, marketing, and growth. He is the VP of Marketing at When I Work a product that helps small business's owners better manage their staff. Sujan is also the author of 100 Days of Growth, an actionable Growth Hacking eBook.