12 Traits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

12 Traits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

What are the traits of successful entrepreneurs that set them apart from everyone else? What trait do entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Lawrence Ellison, and Richard Branson have that the ordinary entrepreneurs don’t? All these questions are going to be answered in this article.

After understudying the lives of successful entrepreneurs, I have been able to pinpoint 12 traits that make them successful. Without wasting your time, below are the 12 traits of successful entrepreneurs:

1. Successful Entrepreneurs are proactive learners

Entrepreneurship is a life long process and successful entrepreneurs know this. Things change so fast in the business world; you could be an innovation today and become obsolete tomorrow. To stay on course and adapt swiftly to the everchanging trend, successful entrepreneurs keep studying and learning.

They read industrial journals, books, and magazines. They attend seminars and update themselves regularly with the latest industrial trend. 12 ms to successful entrepreneurship know that their cup is never full; they know that they don’t have the right answers to all questions. So they humble themselves and learn when availed of the opportunity.

2. They thrive on risk

I have never seen a successful entrepreneur who rose to the pinnacle of success without a measurable amount of risk. Successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers; they risk their time, energy and resources with the hope of building a strong business. If they fail, they risk losing everything they’ve ever owned. Risk is the main reason many employees fail to start a business.

3. They work for free

Working for free is one of the traits of successful entrepreneurs that set them apart from others. It’s hard to find individuals who will be willing to work for free, without pay for many years but successful entrepreneurs do this. They work on their business for many years without pay.

Being an entrepreneur, I can attest to this trait because I have built businesses without getting a dime from them for some years. All profits generated are re-invested into the business. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must always bear in mind that you are not building a job for monthly payments. Instead, you are building an asset that can generate residual income for you and add value to humanity in the coming years.

4. They work longer hours than employees

what are the 12 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs? are known for their extraordinary resilience and longstanding commitment to the course of building a business. Building a business is never easy and it requires time and dedication. Some entrepreneurs are known to work for 70 – 80 hours per week while average employees work less than that.

So if you are going to join the league of successful entrepreneurs, then you definitely need to develop the trait of working longer hours than normal.

5. Successful entrepreneurs learn quickly from mistakes

Of all the traits of 12 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, this one interests me the most. Many individuals shy away from the game of entrepreneurship because of the fear of making mistakes. They perceive mistakes as bad because mistakes sometimes cost money and pain; so they avoid it like a plague. But successful entrepreneurs see mistakes as a learning tool; they see it as an opportunity to learn something new.

“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.” – Henry Ford

Successful entrepreneurs make mistakes in business but they don’t quit. They know mistakes are part of the process of entrepreneurship, so they learn quickly from these mistakes and move on. If you are being held back by the fear of making mistakes, I will suggest you read the article “How to learn from your mistakes in business.”

“Excuses cost a dime and that’s why the poor can afford a lot of it.”- Robert Kiyosaki

6. They have the ability to run on debt

As a rule of life, we are all indebted to someone in one way or the other. With respect to building a business, I have never seen a successful entrepreneur that hasn’t been in debt. Everyone owes but successful entrepreneurs know how to use debt to their advantage, they know how to use debt as an instrument and leverage to build a business and get richer.

“Be careful when you take on debt. If you take on debt personally, make sure it is small. If you take on large debt, make sure someone else is paying for it.” – Rich Dad

7. They are accountable and responsible

Traits of successful entrepreneurs are accountable and responsible for the failure or success of the business. They shoulder the responsibility of piloting the business through its trying times. If they succeed, it becomes a plus to them but if they fail, they will be held responsible.

8. They thrive on criticism

Another trait successful entrepreneurs share in common is the ability to forge ahead in the face of criticism. Building a business comes with its own challenges; as the entrepreneur, you are bound to be loved and hated by the public. But successful entrepreneurs always devise a means to use every bit of criticism to make themselves better and stronger.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford

“Sometimes, I think my most important job as a CEO is to listen to the bad news. If you don’t act on it, your people will eventually stop bringing bad news to your attention and that is the beginning of the end.” – Bill Gates

9. Successful entrepreneurs are ambitious

Ambition is one of the traits of successful entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs think big and do things big. They are never satisfied with their current achievement; they believe there is always room for constant improvement and they go for it.

Take a look at Mukesh Ambani’s achievement in building Reliance Group; the world’s largest refinery. Lakshmi Mittal built Mittal Steel, the world’s largest steel producer. Look at Larry Ellison’s ambition to surmount Microsoft. In generality, entrepreneurs are very ambitious personalities.

10. They are opportunist

This is another trait of successful entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs share a common ability to see opportunities, where others see problems. They know that behind every problem lies an opportunity. Successful entrepreneurs are the drivers of creativity and innovation.

“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.” – John D. Rockefeller

11. They are great leaders

Successful entrepreneurs are great leaders with a proven leadership strategy. They possess the ability to bring out the best in their employees. They inspire creativity and foster innovation. They also have the ability to hire and lead smarter individuals.

“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John D. Rockefeller

12. Successful entrepreneurs are team players

“I want to start my own business,” ‘I want to be my own boss,’ ‘I want to do this my own way.’ These are the words I often hear from would-be entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs know that entrepreneurship and investing are team sports. So, therefore; they never work alone, they join forces with other entrepreneurs and professional advisers to build a stronger business.

“Go to the wolf, consider its ways and be wise. A wolf will never hunt alone; it hunts in packs because it knows the power of teamwork.” -Ajaero Tony Martins

In conclusion, these are the 12 traits of successful entrepreneurs that you must possess to succeed. Successful entrepreneurs were not born with these traits, they developed them over time. You can also develop these traits if only you are willing.


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Alan Olsen, CPA

Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com.  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.

Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio



GROCO.com is a proud sponsor of The American Dreams Show.



The American Dreams show was the brainchild of Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA. It was originally created to fill a specific need; often inexperienced entrepreneurs lacked basic information about raising capital and how to successfully start a business.

Alan sincerely wanted to respond to the many requests from aspiring entrepreneurs asking for the information and introductions they needed. But he had to find a way to help in which his venture capital clients and friends would not mind.

The American Dreams show became the solution, first as a radio show and now with YouTube videos as well. Always respectful of interview guest’s time, he’s able to give access to individuals information and inspiration previously inaccessible to the first-time entrepreneurs who need it most.

They can listen to venture capitalists and successful business people explain first-hand, how they got to where they are, how to start a company, how to overcome challenges, how they see the future evolving, opportunities, work-life balance and so much more..

American Dreams discusses many topics from some of the world’s most successful individuals about their secrets to life’s success. Topics from guest have included:

Creating purpose in life / Building a foundation for their life / Solving problems / Finding fulfillment through philanthropy and service / Becoming self-reliant / Enhancing effective leadership / Balancing family and work…

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MyPaths.com (Also sponsored by GROCO) provides free access to content and world-class entrepreneurs, influencers and thought leaders’ personal success stories. To help you find your path in life to true, sustainable success & happiness.  It’s mission statement:

In an increasingly complex and difficult world, we hope to help you find your personal path in life and build a strong foundation by learning how others found success and happiness. True and sustainable success and happiness are different for each one of us but possible, often despite significant challenges.

Our mission at MyPaths.com is to provide resources and firsthand accounts of how others found their paths in life, so you can do the same.

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