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When we see a successful entrepreneur, we’re observing only the surface of where they are in the present moment. We may admire their freedom from having a boss, the satisfaction they feel for being able to create, and develop something from scratch and the self-confidence that comes having control over one’s future. From the outside it appears that they have a lot going on that many working stiffs envy and would love to have. What we seldom see, or hear about, are the sacrifices, long hours, struggles and failures that are necessary to get to where they are today. These are the oft hidden, undesirable parts of what it takes to eventually reach success for people that make the courageous decision to start their own business. They are the aspects of going solo that entrepreneurs are willing to do that others are not. There are specific attributes that determine whether an individual has what it takes to make it as a business owner.

Emotional Intelligence

To be successful at running our own business, we don’t have the luxury of not doing things because we don’t feel motivated or are feeling down or discouraged. We need to keep going despite what we are experiencing emotionally. The better we are able to communicate with others and form strong connections with our staff, suppliers and customers the more smoothly the organization will run and the better our chances for success. Successful entrepreneurs are able to develop strong connections with others that help them overcome obstacles and help them to keep moving through difficult times. They are able to delay immediate gratification and sacrifice for a goal that may be a long way down the road.

Self-Confidence and Self-reliance

If the idea that you are starting from scratch and often need to rely upon yourself frightens you, it is not likely that you will be able to cope. It is necessary to keep going despite the feelings of fear, that are inevitable, when we are moving into new areas, pushing our boundaries and outside of our comfort zones. This is not for the faint of heart. To be able to function well, despite being outside of their comfort zone, is a big part of what sets entrepreneurs apart from those that need the security (or what they think is security) from a having a stable career. Successful entrepreneurs have a greater fear of being stuck in their comfort zones and not reaching their potential than they do of facing ongoing uncertainty. They believe that it is entirely up to them to determine their future.

Dogged Determination and Perseverance

There is one certainty in striking out on your own. Things will not always go smoothly, the way we expected and hoped they would. In fact, they rarely do. For many people frustration sets in and their determination begins to waver. For the true entrepreneur quitting or giving up is not an option. They have what it takes to keep going in the face of adversity, setbacks and uncertainly. Following their own path, their own dream is the most important thing to them and the thought of failing does not scare them as much as not having had the courage to try.


A trait shared among all entrepreneurs is unfailing optimism. Many people let failures stop them, seeing them as evidence that they are incapable and not able to move ahead. They give up. Not so with those that decide to go solo. Successful people that run their own businesses have faced failure; some many times, before they became successful. Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the long list of hugely successful people who were initially rejected, fired from their jobs, or turned down before making it big. The ultimate is Thomas Edison, who tried 10,000 times before inventing the light bulb. When asked about this he said that he just discovered 9,999 ways that didn’t work, bringing him that much closer to the way that finally did. That sums up the mindset of successful entrepreneurs. They never take failure personally, but learn from it, move on and try again. Failures is seen as a necessary step that will bring them closer to the success they believe they will ultimately achieved.


Steve Jobs stated that “the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. Without being passionate about what they do successful business owners would not be able find the energy to put in the effort, long hours and sacrifice necessary to achieve the outcome that they desire. They are driven and motivated by a vision, sometimes one that only they can see.

Curious, Open and Lifelong Learners

All successful business owners are committed to lifelong learning. They recognize the need to continually keep up to date, current and knowledgeable not only about the particulars of the business they are in, but what is going on in the greater world. Insatiably curious, they are constantly on the lookout for better, more efficient, productive ways of doing things. For them there is no such thing as becoming comfortable with the status quo and failing into a pattern in which they can relax. They realize that standing still is not a possibility, it means falling behind.

Creativity and Trust in Their Intuition

One constant when it comes to starting a new business is never having all the information that we need. If you are unable to make a decision without having a full, complete picture, you will never make it as an entrepreneur. Success means seeing an opportunity and jumping despite not seeing the complete picture. Entrepreneurs have a high level of trust in their own intuition as they seldom have as much information as they need or would like. They are often in unfamiliar territory, with no previous experience to deal with a situation or problem they find themselves up against. They need an unshakeable belief that they will find a way, or create a way.