Key Personality Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

There is a very distinct set of characteristics of an entrepreneur that makes these creative go-getters very different to employees or even self-employed people.

"Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation in support of an idea or enterprise" Victor Kiam

Entrepreneurs are by nature very creative. They love to play with ideas and try them out as businesses and make things happen.

In many ways they think and act differently to most people but whilst they are all full of ideas, few of them achieve great success. This is why business coaching can be helpful.

Entrepreneur definition

So firstly, what is an entrepreneur? Dictionary's usually define an entrepreneur as someone who owns and makes money from a business enterprise.

This is a very broad definition but Brad Sugars breaks it down in to some good further distinctions in his book Billionaire in Training. He identifies 5 steps to becoming an entrepreneur as follows:

  • Level 1 - self-employed
  • Level 2 – manager (you own a business but have started employing people)
  • Level 3 – business owner (you have a general manager so the business is not reliant upon you)
  • Level 4 – entrepreneurial investor (you are buying, building and selling businesses)
  • Level 5 – true entrepreneur (money comes from passive income streams)

Some business owners may never become a true entrepreneur since they are quite content just operating one enterprise. Clearly the characteristics of this type of person are quite different to entrepreneurs who are driven to go on and create other businesses.

From a business coaching perspective, these five levels have very different requirements. At each level there are different challenges and things to learn.

The most challenging development in the path to becoming an entrepreneur is making the initial move from being an employee to being self-employed. Many people fail at the first fence and go back to the security of having a paid salary. So, what makes successful business entrepreneurs stick it out?

5 key personality characteristics of an entrepreneur

Successful business entrepreneurs definitely have a particular set of personality traits:

1. Creativity

Lots of people have great ideas for new businesses but one of the characteristics of entrepreneurs is that they actually put their ideas in to action. And once in business they don't stop. They continually innovate and look for new and different ways to do things.

2. Positive thinking

Entrepreneurs are usually optimistic by nature with a positive attitude no matter what events occur. They certainly don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negative ‘what-ifs’ because entrepreneurs are resourceful and tend to have a lot of confidence in their own abilities to pull things off.

3. Decisiveness

Entrepreneurs are very active people and love making things happen – this is one of the things that drives them. They are catalysts, able to see an opportunity, make a decision and put it in to action. In fact this is what many of them do best.

4. Risk takers

Risk comes with the territory when you’re an entrepreneur. In fact, some go to the extent of taking huge risks just for the thrill of it. For business coaches working with people like this the focus is to get them to start taking calculated risks for the money rather than the adrenaline rush.

5. Resilience

One of the characteristics of an entrepreneur is that they are so focused on achieving their goals and dreams that they will keep persisting where others might give up. They also bounce back easily from problems, difficulties and failures. In fact, they see these experiences as valuable lessons to learn from and use them to adapt the ways they do things.

Characteristics of successful copreneurs

In addition to this list of the characteristics of an entrepreneur, successful 'copreneurs' (couples in business) also demonstrate extremely good communication whereby each partner is comfortable both speaking and listening to the truth even around difficult issues.

Successful copreneurs also show a great commitment to each other and to the relationship over and above the business.

Business coaching focus with entrepreneurs

Many small business entrepreneurs already have a good business acumen so they might not understand why they need to bother with business coaching.

However, since business coaches work with business people, not just businesses, they also work with clients on personal development areas. This enables them to operate more effectively as business owners.

The key personality characteristics of an entrepreneur means that patterns emerge in terms of how they operate and therefore how business coaches can help them create personal shifts.

They include helping entrepreneurs to:

  • Focus on 2-3 ideas at a time instead of juggling and continuously starting new projects
  • Be calm and measured rather than adrenaline charged and stressed
  • Focus on profit rather than revenue & growth
  • Have work life balance rather than working too many hours
  • Anticipate and avoid problems rather than reacting to crises
  • Build a financial buffer rather than operating at the edge
  • Recognize and delegate areas of weakness rather than avoiding them
  • Let go of ideas that are not ready to be turned in to a business and understanding, as Richard Branson said, that "Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming".

Business Coaching Questions:

  • Are you thinking about your next project at the expense of consolidating your current business?
  • What characteristics of an entrepreneur do you have?
  • What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?


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