1. Money

Thinking of Starting a Small Business?

Part 2: Characteristics of an Entrepreneur


characteristics of entrepreneurs

How entrepreneurial are you?

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2) Do you have the characteristics of an entrepreneur?

There are certain traits and attitudes that make some people more suited to running a successful small business than others.

In one study where entrepreneurs were given a list of attributes and asked to rate their importance for success, the seven most highly ranked qualities were perseverance, the desire and willingness to take the initiative, competitiveness, self-reliance, a strong need to achieve, self-confidence, and good physical health (William E. Jennings, "A Profile of the Entrepreneur" in Entrepreneurship: A Primer for Canadians).

None of these are particularly surprising; you'd expect a person who was a successful entrepreneur to be self-reliant and self-confident. The entrepreneur characteristics that the same group ranked as least necessary for success may surprise you, though; a strong desire for money, patience, being well organized, and having a need for power all ranked at the bottom of the list.

Human Resources Development Canada presents a very similar view of the qualities needed for entrepreneurial success. Their "Reality Check for Small Business Owners" emphasizes qualities such as persistence, self-confidence, and flexibility. For instance, entrepreneurs "believe that they control their own destiny, they refuse to be at the mercy of others or of events. As a result, they take the initiative in starting projects and getting ideas off the ground."

If you like quizzes, you'll like this Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment from the Business Development Bank of Canada. Once you answer these questions and press submit, you’ll see a score that shows how your answers compare to the personal background, behaviour patterns, and lifestyle factors of proven, successful entrepreneurs.

You can also assess your entrepreneur characteristics with the Are You Ready to Start a Small Business? Quiz on this website; I've designed the quiz to provide an overview of both the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs and the resources necessary for starting a business. See also 6 Traits You Need to Move From Employee to Self-Employed.

All of these sources equate being a successful small business person with being an entrepreneur. That is, the underlying assumption is that you need to have a sufficient number of entrepreneur characteristics to run a successful business. You'll find more quizzes and the like to measure your entrepreneur characteristics in the Are You An Entrepreneur? section of this website.

Feeling better about how your personality fits the profile of a successful entrepreneur? Good! You wouldn't be reading this article if you weren't a self-confident, energetic person who enjoyed challenges. But even if you have every characteristic of an entrepreneur every study has ever listed, you won't get anywhere if you're not equipped to put all those positive traits into action. The next page of this article examines the abilities you need to succeed when starting a small business of your own.

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