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12 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Feb. 16, 2018
There has never been a better time in history to be an entrepreneur than today. Right now.

There has never been a better time in history to be an entrepreneur than today.  Right now.  This minute.  Do you think you have what it takes?  Here are 12 traits of successful entrepreneurs.

1. Entrepreneurs Hunger to Learn

I am a serial entrepreneur.  I’ve started businesses, grown them, turned them around, and sold them.  One of the things I’ve learned for certain is that I still have much to learn.  Other entrepreneurs share this trait.  Not only do entrepreneurs continue to learn throughout their lives, they hunger to learn.

2. Entrepreneurs Create a Vision & Share It

Anyone can start a company.  Entrepreneurs have visions for a business. They have a destiny. All entrepreneurs, even the most awkward and geeky, form a vision of the business they want to create, including its mission, its reason for existing, and convey it to others.  The vision is critical for helping investors understand the big picture opportunity.  It is also critical for recruiting quality employees.  It’s human nature to want to be part of something bigger than one’s self.

3. Entrepreneurs are Driven

One of the outcomes of an entrepreneur’s vision is a drive to see it realized.  They are compelled to turn their vision into reality.  It becomes a destiny they must fulfill.  This is why they work all hours.  This is why they make the sacrifices in pursuit of their goals that others will not.  It is a dogged determination to persist, no matter what.

4. Entrepreneurs Project Confidence

No matter how shaky the entrepreneur feels from time to time (and worrying about payroll is definitely a shaky time), he projects confidence to others.  Others buy into his outward belief and soon enough, this belief becomes reality.  Confidence is contagious.

5. Entrepreneurs Watch Cash

Cash on hand makes for a good night’s sleep and reduced anxiety.  Though entrepreneurs focus on future growth and investment, there is no ready substitute for money in the bank today to ensure there is a tomorrow.  There’s no such thing as cold, hard cash to an entrepreneur.  All cash is warm, soft, and can be cuddled.

6. Entrepreneurs Are Not Afraid to Invest

While entrepreneurs are thrifty, they are unafraid of pulling the trigger on investments that offer a good risk/reward ratio.  Entrepreneurs will dare and bet the house from time to time, but when they bet the house, they are betting on themselves, which the entrepreneur believes is a stacked deck in his favor.

7. Entrepreneurs Pivot When Appropriate

Markets are dynamic and opportunities are ever changing.  While entrepreneurs stay true to their visions, they are quite willing to pivot when market forces change the opportunity set.  This is because entrepreneurs are opportunistic.

8. Entrepreneurs Adopt a Mindset of Abundance

Entrepreneurs focus on abundance, not scarcity.  They focus on what they can gain, not what they might lose.  Moreover, they believe that their gain need not come at another’s expense.  Their world is not static, but dynamic and expansive.  Thus, they avoid win-lose scenarios and seek win-win opportunities where more for the entrepreneur does not mean less for others.  Entrepreneurs find ways so there is more for everyone.

9. Entrepreneurs Have a Bias Towards Action

While entrepreneurs believe that Jim Collins was correct when he wrote that good is the enemy of great, they also believe that great is the enemy of getting started.  Entrepreneurs are restless and impatient.  They have a sense of urgency.  They won’t wait for everything to be perfect, because it never is.  Instead, they pull the trigger.  They act.

10. Entrepreneurs Seek Outside Counsel

Starting a company and building a business is lonely.  Everyone expects the entrepreneur to have all of the answers.  Yet, despite their drive, despite their vision, despite their confidence, entrepreneurs are self-aware enough and humble enough to regularly seek outside counsel.  They are especially open to input from others with relevant experience and/or broader perspectives. 

11. Entrepreneurs Associate With Success

Whether it’s joining a local networking group or national business alliance, entrepreneurs seek to surround themselves with other successful people. Not only does this open a myriad of networking possibilities, but entrepreneurs instinctively understand that success breeds success.  To become more successful they associate with successful people.  

12. Entrepreneurs Put Themselves Last

One of the traits that make entrepreneurs successful is the ability to see the needs of others.  Accordingly, they put the needs of others first, which includes customers, team members, and supply chain partners.  The paradox is that when entrepreneurs put others first, others put the entrepreneurs first.  In a world of abundance, not scarcity, everyone wins in this scenario.

Does every entrepreneur exhibit all of these traits?  Of course not.  But most successful entrepreneurs exhibit the majority of them. 

Matt Michel is the President of Service Nation Inc., which operates the Service Roundtable, Retail Contractor Coalition, Service Nation Alliance, Roundtable Rewards, and the Service World Expo. Learn more (and download FREE STUFF) at

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.