There are currently approximately 582 million entrepreneurs in the world.
And out of all small businesses that were started in 2014, only 56 percent made it until 2018.
The numbers clearly show that not all entrepreneurs make it to the finish line.
But what about the ones that do? What are they doing differently?
What characteristics distinguish these entrepreneurs from the rest?
There are specific skills and characteristics that successful entrepreneurs possess, and at the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what those skills are, and how to develop them.
Let’s begin with what entrepreneurship is.
What is Entrepreneurship?
“Entrepreneurship is the act of creating a business or businesses while building and scaling it to generate a profit.” (source)
It’s about innovating and making significant changes through your business.
So, as a successful entrepreneur, your mindset should be one of not only selling to people but impacting positively on the lives that you are selling to.
Next, let’s talk about who an entrepreneur is.
An entrepreneur is someone that innovates, creates new businesses and takes risks while also enjoying most or all of the profits.
Entrepreneurs are continually thinking of ways to satisfy needs and solve problems, always learning, making adjustments, and trying out new things.
To be an entrepreneur, not only must you be ready to take risks, but to be learning new things always.
That said, now we will talk about some entrepreneurial characteristics.
First, let’s talk about what we mean by entrepreneurial characteristics.
What do entrepreneurial characteristics mean?
Now that we know what entrepreneurship is and who an entrepreneur is, our next question might be, “what are entrepreneurial characteristics?”
Entrepreneurial characteristics are the qualities that make up an entrepreneur. They are the core attributes that are often seen in successful entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial characteristics are different from entrepreneurial skills in the sense that while both can be developed, characteristics are essential for a successful entrepreneur and skills can be seen as extra tools that make the entrepreneur more efficient.
Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs.
Several core characteristics can be spotted in most successful entrepreneurs. Here are a few:
Every successful entrepreneur should be disciplined.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you should be able to know and set limits.
When should you begin tasks? When should you take a break?
It all boils down to discipline.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll most likely have no one to report to, no one to hold you accountable for anything, except yourself, especially if you’re starting your business alone.
This is why you should be able to hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for all duties.
It’s about being able to keep yourself in check at all times.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you are immune to distractions. Still, every successful entrepreneur learns how to handle these issues with time, and soon, being disciplined becomes a lifestyle.
Though it may not be easy to exercise discipline at all times, building this habit is essential in the long run as it will help you achieve success.
Coming up with new ideas and improvements is another crucial feature that characterizes most successful entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, you should be able to look at processes or products and find places that improvements can be made and identifying new opportunities where others don’t see them.
Innovativeness will keep you ahead of the competition and sustain success in the long run because every business that is advancing is innovating.
To attain and maintain a high position in business, you have to be making improvements continually and for that to happen, you need to be innovative.
3. Problem Solving:
Most new products or ideas come to existence when someone finds a problem.
But it doesn’t stop at discovering the problem.
The solution comes when someone attempts to solve the problem.
These are the words of Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX:
“If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
By solving a problem in a way that makes things easier for a lot of people, you are creating a successful business because you are helping people.
Think of the top business giants, and you’ll see that most of them are solving the problems that many people face.
Problem solving and innovation go hand in hand: while innovation involves finding the problem, the gap, the loophole, problem-solving comes in to create a solution to the problem that has been spotted.
Every successful entrepreneur should be willing to take risks.
No matter how well researched any business idea or product is, the truth is that there remains a possibility for failure.
Taking the bold step to go on with a product or idea is risk-taking – a characteristic of most, if not every entrepreneur.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to take risks to see the opportunities most of the time.
Another dominant characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is creativity, a skill that is a must-have in every business owner’s toolkit.
Creativity allows you to come up with unique solutions and shows itself in the way that different products exist to solve the same problem, yet people prefer some products to others.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be internally motivated.
It takes motivation to get tasks done and to make discoveries, breakthroughs.
Motivation fuels persistence, and determination, which are also skills that all entrepreneurs need.
Every successful entrepreneur is characterized by being motivated and relentless.
Good entrepreneurs are committed to their goals and consistent at all times.
The ability to quickly adjust to changes, new circumstances and to think fast is a core skill for many entrepreneurs.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you must be able to adjust quickly to changes in your industry and to the latest trends.
Flexibility also involves making predictions and preparing for changes long before they happen.
Most entrepreneurs are determined. They keep at their goals even when things are unclear.
Perseverance is a characteristic that you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
If every entrepreneur backed out and gave up when they had issues with their businesses, then many companies wouldn’t exist today.
To be successful, you must be able to see through the difficult times and keep persevering.
All successful entrepreneurs are focused on future advancements as much as they are on present trends.
Although they pay attention to current trends, their focus is on how the current trends could potentially change in the future.
Good entrepreneurs make an effort to predict or create future trends.
Here are some characteristics of successful entrepreneurs:
- Problem Solving
Skills of an entrepreneur
Now that you know the characteristics that you need to be a successful entrepreneur, what skills are required for you to be a successful entrepreneur?
What qualifies you to be a successful entrepreneur?
Here are some skills that every entrepreneur should have:
To be a successful entrepreneur, you should be able to identify different options, weigh them, and come up with the best decision.
Sometimes it involves identifying when certain decisions cannot be made alone.
In such situations, an entrepreneur knows who to contact and when a decision is beyond them.
Good entrepreneurs also take action quickly when making decisions, as wasting time on some decisions could lead to significant losses.
As an entrepreneur, decision-making skills are important for your business’ success.
You should be able to weigh several factors and alternatives and choose the relative best.
Successful entrepreneurs hardly lose on great opportunities because they can quickly and flexibly make decisions, sometimes taking huge risks, but only with the benefits well accounted for.
Entrepreneurs should have good problem-solving skills that will allow them to identify problems and find appropriate solutions.
An entrepreneur is often able to find different creative solutions and come up with the best solution. Good entrepreneurs are often able to create a plan to solve the problem, a path that works best, often considering several factors.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to develop strong problem-solving skills.
3. Time management:
Time is a crucial resource for every business, and time management is a vital skill for all entrepreneurs.
Inefficient management of time can lead to the loss of many opportunities, perhaps being too slow to take action, or maybe too fast.
As much as not being late to release a great idea is essential, it is also important not to send a less-than-ready idea into the market.
4. Communication and Networking:
Being able to communicate ideas is an essential skill for every entrepreneur for many reasons.
To be successful, an entrepreneur will eventually need to build a team and share ideas with other people who can give helpful suggestions and point out errors.
If the entrepreneur is unable to communicate their ideas and mission clearly, then, they may not be able to get people on board with them, or the people who are onboard may not clearly understand the idea and its mission, and so, be unable to proffer good ideas.
An entrepreneur might need to pitch the ideas to investors or partners. Pitching ideas clearly and getting the right investors onboard requires strong communication, networking, and persuasion skills on the part of the entrepreneur.
5. Strategic thinking:
Another useful skill for entrepreneurs is strategic thinking.
Entrepreneurs that can think strategically are often the most successful, often making plans and blueprints for achieving goals in the most efficient way.
Many entrepreneurs have step by step plans to achieve their goals, in a precise order, often well researched and tested.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you should be able to draft strategies and make plans to achieve goals.
Now that we know the core skills that entrepreneurs need to achieve their goals successfully, the next question you may ask is, “Why should we develop these skills?”
Though the answer may seem quite obvious (to be a successful entrepreneur), there is more to it. So why are these skills necessary?
Skills of successful entrepreneurs:
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
- Communication and Networking
- Strategic Thinking
Importance of entrepreneurship skills
Entrepreneurial skills are essential for several reasons. Let’s look at some of them:
1. It helps you be a successful entrepreneur:
Building strong entrepreneurial skills equips you with the things you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
And really, you’ll find that entrepreneurs that have failed missed out one of these skills or had a team that didn’t do their job in making sure that one of those aspects was up to par.
When an entrepreneur does not constantly innovate, this reflects on the brand negatively.
But innovation is just one aspect.
A brand that fails in many of the aspects is very likely to be outperformed by other brands.
Balance is vital for a successful entrepreneur, team, and business.
2. Keeps you ahead of the competition:
In many ways, an entrepreneur who has a good command of the skills mentioned will be ahead of the game.
Entrepreneurs are highly associated with their businesses, and entrepreneurs who have these skills will translate them into their businesses.
So you can see that if an entrepreneur lacks in many of these skills, their business will be negatively impacted, except they have a team to make up for the parts where they are lacking.
This applies more to entrepreneurs who work alone being new business owners and, most likely sole proprietorships.
3. Helps build the right team:
An entrepreneur with these skills will most likely transfer it to workers and team members, forming a well-versed and motivated team.
So, these skills not only benefit the entrepreneur but team members and the business in general too.
Also, building entrepreneurial skills such as networking and communication skills gives you the ability to make connections and to meet more people.
Now, you know what the skills are, and why they are essential, but how do you develop these vital entrepreneurial skills?
How to Develop Entrepreneurship Skills
Knowing what skills you need to develop and how important they are simply isn’t enough.
The main question you may be asking is, “How can I develop these entrepreneurial skills?”
Here are six practical steps that you can take to improve your entrepreneurial skills.
1. Join an entrepreneurial community
To be successful in any business, joining a community is a great way to go about it.
In a business community, there are lots of people with a similar mindset as you. People share their experiences and mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid making the same mistakes.
There’s a lot you can gain from joining an entrepreneurial community. So, you can search for groups or pages of entrepreneurs in a similar profession.
Joining an entrepreneurial community helps you stay inspired and creative as well.
2. Find a mentor
To be a successful entrepreneur, one of the best ways you can grow is by having a mentor.
A mentor will help you learn critical entrepreneurial skills often by sharing knowledge and insight from their personal experience.
Through joining entrepreneurial communities, you can make connections and possibly find a good mentor.
Hard times are bound to exist as an entrepreneur, but by having a mentor, it will be easier to pull through and face difficult times.
3. Keep learning:
Growing in your entrepreneurial skills requires you to gain as much information as possible.
You can do this effectively by reading books or listening to podcasts or audiobooks.
There are countless sources that you can get resources to build your entrepreneurial skills such as websites that offer high-quality information, online courses, podcasts and a lot more.
Again, joining an entrepreneurial community is a great way to learn because you get to learn from others and practice your skills effectively.
4. Start a business
The best way to learn anything is by having hands-on experience with it.
Starting a small business of your own is a perfect way to gain hands-on experience with entrepreneurial skills.
No matter how much you study or gain knowledge on entrepreneurship, it only begins to make more sense when you try things out.
Starting a business is often intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be complicated at all, you will never have every single detail figured out but after doing as much research as you can, don’t be held back by feeling unprepared.
Owning a business comes with several responsibilities and lots of learning to do, especially if you’re starting on your own.
You’ll have to learn how to set up your business, market the business, solve problems creatively, manage your costs, and so on.
Although owning a business may be tedious, the value from the learning process turns out to be worth the stress.
In the end, you find out that you’ve learnt lots of skills that you wouldn’t have been able to learn without owning your business.
There is a massive difference between owning a business and working somewhere.
When you own a business, you’ll find out that you have a natural sense of responsibility and a motivation to work to make your business work.
This is often lacking in a job, although this isn’t always the case. Generally, owning a business pays off a whole lot.
5. Get Hands-on Work Experience
One of the best bets in building your skills would be to find a job or internship in a place where your skills can be improved.
For example, if you are trying to build your communication skills, it would make sense to apply at a sales job, and if you’re looking to improve your time management skills, it may help to work at a job that requires you to stick to strict deadlines.
Working in such places can help you get the experience you will need to run your own business someday.
It will also expose you to the potential loopholes and challenges of entrepreneurship, helping you to prepare adequately for them.
Another great way to improve your entrepreneurial skills is by taking volunteer opportunities. You can gain the same skills you would at a job at a volunteer opportunity.
Volunteering helps you in many ways to build your entrepreneurial skills. Although volunteer opportunities are often not paid, the benefits of the skills that you stand to gain through the skills that you learn and the connections that you will build are worth it.
How to Develop Entrepreneurship Skills:
- Join an Entrepreneurial Community
- Find a Mentor
- Keep Learning
- Start a Business
- Get Hands-on Work Experience
Building your entrepreneurial skills requires dedication, effort, and passion, and by reading this article, you are on the right path.
Learning never stops, keep searching for new ways to build your skills and improve on yourself.
Where do you go from here?
Write down all the skills that you need to improve on and use the practical steps listed above to get working on them.
Remember to be patient with yourself and know that even the most successful entrepreneurs are still learning.
I’d love to know what your thoughts about entrepreneurial skills are. What entrepreneurial skill do you think is most important for an entrepreneur? Was there anyone that I missed out?
Esther Alu, the Founder of TheAceBusiness.com is an entrepreneur who writes step-by-step guides for starting several business ideas. She is constantly learning and discovering effective ways to help her readers launch and grow successful businesses.