Most people would agree that an entrepreneur is a person who has started his or her own business. But that basic definition barely scratches the surface. It does little to capture the true essence of what it means to be a risk-taker, innovator and individual willing to carve his or her own path in a world that doesn't always take kindly to people who fail to follow the status quo.
Are you itching to venture out on your own, but you wonder if you have what it takes to choose the road less traveled? Check out what 15 company founders and business leaders told Business News Daily about what they think makes a truly successful entrepreneur.
"An entrepreneur is someone who seeks to profitably solve a problem that the world has, in exchange for enough monetary compensation to achieve their dreams. [It doesn't] mean you won't read a book or work for a boss ever again. The most successful entrepreneurs spend time studying others' successes — what are their processes and daily methods, and how can I apply those principles to my own life and business?" – Clay Clark, CEO of Thrive15
"To me, entrepreneurship is creating something, nurturing and leading it. It is a labor of love, guts and hard work. There is more to it, and you will grow more than you could ever imagine. But it is not easy, and the road can be windy!" – Rosie Pope, founder of Rosie Pope Maternity
"Entrepreneurship is all about embracing challenges. When you're building something from the ground up, you need to get into the weeds and problem solve. All the weed whacking often allows you to better hone in on a better big-picture strategy — why did this happen? How do I solve it? How do smarter people than me solve it? With a young company, when you experience a new challenge, it's usually a growing pain. So while it can be difficult to get through, it's for the best possible reason — your company is getting bigger!" – Jennie Ripps, CEO of Owl's Brew
"To me, entrepreneurship means being able to take action and having the courage to commit and persevere through all of the challenges and failures. It is a struggle that an entrepreneur is willing to battle. It is using past experiences and intelligence to make smart decisions. Entrepreneurs are able to transform their vision into a business. I believe this process is at the core of any true entrepreneur." – MJ Pedone, founder and CEO of Indra Public Relations
"Being a successful entrepreneur requires a great deal of resourcefulness, because as an entrepreneur, you often run into dead ends throughout the course of your career. You need to be able to bounce back from losses if you want to be successful. Know that there will be much more disappointment than progress when you first start off, and you need to have a short memory in order to put the past behind you quickly. It's imperative to stay optimistic when bad things happen." – Vip Sandhir, founder and CEO of HighGround
"Entrepreneurship is the ability to recognize the bigger picture, find where there's an opportunity to make someone's life better, design hypotheses around these opportunities, and continually test your assumptions. It's experimentation: Some experiments will work; many others will fail. It is not big exits, huge net worth or living a life of glamour. It's hard work and persistence to leave the world a better place once your time here is done." – Konrad Billetz, CEO of Frameri
"To me, entrepreneurship is completely dedicating yourself to creating something out of nothing. It's not simply taking a risk and hoping to realize big rewards. Creating something out of nothing also tends to present numerous challenges and roadblocks which seem insurmountable. I believe the great entrepreneurs, who I look up to, can help their team push through those roadblocks and find solutions." – David Greenberg, CEO of Updater
"Entrepreneurship is the mind-set that allows you to see opportunity everywhere. It could be a business idea, but it could also be seeing the possibilities in the people that can help you grow that business. This ability to see many options in every situation is critically important; there will be unending challenges that will test your hustle." – Preeti Sriratana, co-founder and CEO of Sweeten
"It is not about making a quick buck or deal. Successful entrepreneurs look past that 'quick buck' and instead look at the bigger picture to ensure that each action made is going toward the overall goal of the business or concept, whether or not that means getting something in return at that moment." – Allen Dikker, CEO of Potatopia
"Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, in that being an entrepreneur is ingrained in one's identity. [It] is the culmination of a certain set of characteristics: determination, creativity, the capacity to risk, leadership and enthusiasm. I don't think you can be an entrepreneur without these qualities, and for me, that idea was ingrained in me very early on. An entrepreneur is part of the foundation of who I am, and who I strive to be." – Eric Lupton, president of Life Saver Pool Fence Systems
"Entrepreneurship is an unavoidable life calling pursued by those who are fortunate enough to take chances [and are] optimistic enough to believe in themselves, aware enough to see problems around them, stubborn enough to keep going, and bold enough to act again and again. Entrepreneurship is not something you do because you have an idea. It's about having the creativity to question, the strength to believe and the courage to move." – Jordan Fliegel, founder of CoachUp
"The journey of entrepreneurship is a lifestyle for many of us; we are wired this way and have no choice. We are driven by an innate need to create, build and grow. In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must have an underlying positivity that enables you to see beyond the day-to-day challenges and roadblocks, always moving forward. You must also be a master plate juggler, able to switch between thinking, genres and activities moment to moment. Most importantly, you must not be afraid to fail, and you must be comfortable living with risk and unknowns — a state of mind which is certainly not for everyone!” – Justine Smith, founder and CEO of Kids Go Co.
"Being an entrepreneur is about giving everything you have when the going gets tough and never giving up. If you truly love and believe in what you're doing, then you must hang in there. Entrepreneurship is not knowing everything about your business. You must humble yourself and not work from your ego. Always be willing to grow, change and learn." – Jennifer MacDonald and Hayley Carr, founders of Zipit Bedding
"Entrepreneurship is seeing an opportunity and gathering the resources to turn a possibility into a reality. It represents the freedom to envision something new and to make it happen. It includes risk, but it also includes the reward of creating a legacy. Anti-entrepreneurship is satisfaction with the status quo, layers of controls and rules that hamper forward movement, and fear of failure." – Maia Haag, co-founder and president of I See Me!
"When it comes to being a successful entrepreneur, I think one must possess grit. The stakes tend to be high, the bumps in the road frequent. Remaining focused, regardless of the obstacles, is paramount. That said, being an entrepreneur means being in full control of your destiny. If that's important to you, then all of the challenges associated with striking out on one's own are but a small price to pay.” – Mike Malone, founder of Livestock Framing
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon Taylor.