25 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

In Entrepreneur Magazine, James Stephenson identified 25 characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur and having the privilege of working with many successful entrepreneurs I think he got it right!

What makes an entrepreneur successful? What is success? We all define success differently and we take very individualized routes to achieving our success. Most of the entrepreneurs I know define success as some combination of freedom to spend time with family and friends; making a positive impact on their community, and the security from unforeseen problems in the future (often thought of as cash in the bank!). Interestingly most are not too obsessed with material possessions. That may not be universal but it is what I have seen.

Let’s look at the 25 characteristics Mr. Stephenson identified. How many of these do you possess?

  1. Do what you enjoy
    • Seems obvious and that is why it is #1. Being an entrepreneur is hard and if you don’t LOVE what you do it will be hard to get the success you are looking for
  1. Take what you do seriously
    • You cannot be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services you sell
  1. Plan everything
    • Planning every aspect of your small business is not only a must but also builds habits that every business owner should develop, implement and maintain.
  1. Manage money wisely
    • The lifeblood of any business is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself. Therefore, all business owners must become wise money managers
  1. Ask for the sale
    • Focus on sales. Ask for the sale. Over-reliance on marketing and long term branding will not work. You need to grow customers and revenues or you are in trouble.
  1. Remember it is all about the customer
    • Your business is not about the products or services you sell. Your business is not about the prices you charge. Your business is not about your competition. Your business is all about your customers or clients; period. Everything you do in business must be customer focused.
  1. Become a shameless self-promoter
    • Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that most business owners have at their immediate disposal.
  1. Project a positive business image
    • You have only one chance to make a first impression
  1. Get to know your customers
    • Entrepreneurs have a significant competitive advantage over larger competitors by offering personalized attention … and we all love personalized attention
  1. Level the playing field with technology
    • Take advantage of what technology can do to help you take care of your customers.
  1. Build a top-notch business team
    • You can’t build a successful business alone. Invest in quality team members (employees or contractors)
  1. Become known as an expert
    • When you have a problem, do you seek just anyone’s advice? No, you look to an expert. Be the expert your customers look to
  1. Create a competitive advantage
    • You must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. Why will someone choose to do business with you instead of doing business with a competitor?
  1. Invest in yourself
    • Top business owners are continually investing in themselves. Challenging their assumptions, developing new relationships, finding was to improve.
  1. Be accessible
    • You must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you.
  1. Build a rock-solid reputation
    • A good business reputation is unquestionably one of the entrepreneur’s most tangible and marketable assets
  1. Sell Benefits
    • Pushing features is for inexperienced entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning or using the product or service is what sales professionals worldwide focus on.
  1. Get involved
    • Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business
  1. Grab attention
    • Focus marketing on promotional activities that drive sales. Over-reliance on brand building is a fast way to go broke (see 4 – cash flow above)
  1. Master the art of negotiations
    • Always be looking for opportunities to create win/win situations
  1. Design your workspace for success
    • Carefully plan and design your workspace to ensure maximum personal productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism to visiting clients.
  1. Get and stay organized
    • This is all about managing your business. Do you have the systems in place to get things done? You should have systems for just about every aspect of your business.
  1. Take time off
    • There is a temptation for entrepreneurs to work around the clock. You do not have a manager to tell you to go home because you are losing it. Stay sane; stay engaged; take time for you to relax and re-charge.
  1. Limit the number of hats you wear
    • Most entrepreneurs take a hands-on approach and try to do as much as possible. Know your strengths and find people to wear the hats that you don’t need to wear; and make sure you are wearing the high-value hats!
  1. Follow up Constantly
    • Constant contact, follow-up and follow-through with customers, prospects and business alliances should be the mantra of every business owner.

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