5 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Most people who have ever been employed by someone else have entertained thoughts of starting and owning their own business. They may see successful entrepreneurs and business owners living the ‘good life’ and wonder, “Why can’t that be me?” The potential rewards of business ownership are many, but so are the challenges. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

An intense desire to succeed is not enough to ensure success, and there is no such thing as a fail-safe business concept. Even so, aspiring entrepreneurs who possess these five characteristics increase their chances of achieving long-term success.


Starting a new business requires a time commitment beyond the comprehension of those who have never tried to launch one. A new business owner must be “all in,” and willing to devote more than the typical 40 hours per week if they hope to succeed. Those unprepared or unwilling to commit the time needed are usually better off holding onto a 9-to-5 job.

Stress Management

Stress and uncertainty are constant companions of a new business owner. People needing the stability and comfort of a guaranteed weekly income need not apply to become entrepreneurs.

New business owners commonly endure months of sporadic income. The potential for failure creates tremendous psychological pressure. Stress associated with financial uncertainty can be extreme, and can affect relationships with family and friends.

Choosing to be an entrepreneur is choosing to be immersed in uncertainty. You will not have defined hours or income, and your responsibilities will include anything and everything that needs to get done.

Sales, Marketing and Networking Abilities

Building a better mousetrap is no longer enough to make the world beat a path to your door. Regardless of the business you choose to operate, you will still be in the business of sales. Whether you’re a computer technician, freelance writer, carpenter, or meatball-sandwich maker, you cannot simply hang out your shingle and wait for customers to show up. New business owners lacking the ability to effectively get their message out to potential customers are doomed to failure.

Successful entrepreneurs are experts at communicating who they are, what they do, and how their product or service will make potential customers’ lives better. If sales and marketing are not your strong suit, hire someone to do it for you.

Money Smarts

A mistake that often proves fatal to business startups is the lack of sufficient operating capital. Many new entrepreneurs underestimate how much money they will need to run their business. They often underestimate costs and overestimate early sales, leaving a lack of adequate funding to force them out of business before they even have time to succeed.

It is critical to accurately determine the amount of money your new business will require over an extended period of time. This includes both the costs of starting and the costs of staying in business. Many startup businesses take a year or two before becoming profitable. An entrepreneur needs sufficient operating capital to cover all personal expenses and business costs until revenues can catch up.

Faith in Your Eventual Success

Starting a new business is a daunting proposition under the best of circumstances. There are roadblocks and obstacles at every turn, and there will be days or weeks when you will wonder what you got yourself into. There is only one thing that will keep you going during the difficult times: Absolute faith and belief that you will make it. Sometimes this belief will seem irrational in the face of a mountain of problems. But the entrepreneur who lacks confidence in his success will be looking for the exit door long before success comes knocking.

Robert Sofia is a best-selling author, award winning public speaker, and financial industry thought leader. He is the cofounder and C.O.O of Platinum Advisor Strategies - ranked #362 on the INC 5,000 list of America's fastest growing privately owned companies, and #10 on the Agency 100 list of the nation's fastest growing agencies.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.