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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

Personality Traits You Need to Start a Business

image for jacoblund / Getty Images
jacoblund / Getty Images

Starting a business comes with endless challenges. For some people, that's enough to keep them in the 9-to-5 world of being someone else’s employee. For born entrepreneurs, however, that only motivates their drive to strike out on their own.

"These individuals are risk-takers," said marketing consultant Jennifer Frye, who specializes in working with entrepreneurs and small business owners. "They are willing to fail fast and keep going despite adversity and challenges."

Frye isn't the only one who thinks business owners have a thing or two in common. According to experts who specialize in working with startups and new businesses, here are 10 personality traits that set entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the working crowd.

As a brand marketing and public relations consultant, Lisa Murray has worked with a number of serial entrepreneurs. One quality they all have in common, she says, is their ability to always be on the go.

"Born entrepreneurs don't know how to power down," said Murray, principal and co-founder of Trevi Communications. "They emit a constant hum of ideas, plans, strategies and high-octane energy."

One of the key signs of a born entrepreneur is their willingness to sell an idea and persuade others to buy into their cause, said business coach and consultant Nancy Eberhardt.

"Whether it is a landscaping business at age 12, or selling magazines door-to-door to fund a school trip, they are persistent in telling you about it and pitching why you need it," Eberhardt said. "They are almost fearless in who they will approach and present their idea, service or product to."

As someone who works almost exclusively with entrepreneurs, Robin Samora, president of the business and PR consulting firm Let's Make You Shine, said entrepreneurs all tend to have a unique way of fixing issues that may arise.

"They come up with novel ways to solve problems that others can't even imagine," Samora said. "Ideas flow and come naturally to them."

Even in the worst situations, successful entrepreneurs always see the opportunity to glean something new, said Lili Balfour, founder of the investment banking firm Atelier Advisors.

"When their world is falling apart, they remain calm, knowing that there is a lesson to be learned." Balfour said. "They are grateful for what has worked… and learn from what has not."

Especially when first starting out, entrepreneurs are able to function without a lot of certainty. Starting a business means dealing with a lot of change said Frye. But entrepreneurs are able to adapt their plan to changing circumstances.

"[Entrepreneurs] think positive [and] don't overthink problems," said Frye. "Instead [they] make wise decisions and always [are] ready to accept change when it happens."

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessments and a professor of business psychology, believes entrepreneurs have an opportunistic mindset and are always prepared to take advantage of every situation.

"They see opportunities where others don't," Chamorro-Premuzic said, and they are willing to pursue these opportunities, even when others would hesitate to take the risk."

Nadia Digilov, who left a career on Wall Street to become a successful wedding entrepreneur and author, said entrepreneurs have a willingness to acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them.

"Natural entrepreneurs analyze their behavior and are not afraid to admit that they have made a mistake," Digilov said. "They attempt to correct negative behaviors more easily than [non-entrepreneurs]."

Starting a business requires constant creative thinking, so the mind of an entrepreneur is always at work, said Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst and founder of analyst firm IT-Harvest.

"He or she cannot turn off the flow of ideas," Stiennon said. "Every problem is an opportunity to build a business to solve it."

Running a business requires taking action, even when there may not be an obvious best choice. Elena Cafasso, the president and founder of executive coaching firm Enerpace, Inc., said that entrepreneurs are able to be decisive in the face of many competing demands.

"If you are someone who becomes paralyzed when there are too many moving pieces and too many contingencies, then owning your own business is not right for you," Cafasso said. Entrepreneurs, by contrast, are able to make a decision and act with confidence.

Hope Katz Gibbs, founder and president of Inkandescent Public Relations, said that as an entrepreneur herself, she believes those who are born with the characteristics needed to run their own business all are willing to get back up after being knocked down.

"Our ideas aren't always successful, but the thing that differentiates us is that we don't give up — or give in," Gibbs said. "We just learn from what didn't work, and what did, and start again." Ultimately, she said, entrepreneurs are the last ones standing. 

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Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.