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7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

I’ve been, and I’ve known a lot of, successful entrepreneurs. When thinking through why some made it and some didn’t, seven personal characteristics appeared to be consistent with success.

  1. Invest in Yourself. I’m not talking so much about money, but rather about time and energy and passion and commitment. If you invest in yourself, it means you believe in yourself, your mission, and your ability to plan and achieve your mission goals.
  2. Always Be Curious. Successful inventors think up cool stuff because they are constantly curious about how things work, why things work, and how they might find a way to do things better. Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for better ways to execute the mission.
  3. Run with Smart People. Whether you use people strategically—to get things done— or for inspiration—to stimulate your creative juices—it doesn’t advance your mission to surround yourself with unimaginative or non-stimulating people.
  4. Always Network for New Contacts. Insurance agents don’t get new clients by having lunch with other insurance agents. The same group of people, although they might be comfortable, will probably discuss the same positions and perspectives. You will generally learn something valuable from new people—smart people.
  5. Learn from Your Mistakes. Before you learn from your mistakes, however, you have to be willing to a) make mistakes (take risks), and b) remove your ego from the evaluation process and analyze what happened honestly and objectively. You learn more from what goes wrong that what goes right.
  6. Understand the Difference Between Personal and Business Money. One consistent mistake made by early stage entrepreneurs is to think that the money the business earns is THEIR money. It is not. Business money is a resource, a tool to advance the business, and not for that new car.
  7. Understand Risk. Many people are afraid of failure to the point that they won’t even try. Successful entrepreneurs carefully work out a plan based on what they know, but it rarely involves any degree of certainty. Believe in your analysis and yourself and if a plan looks like it might work, go for it. People succeed by taking “acceptable risks”, carefully thought through actions. But, don’t over-think it! Don’t spend a lot of time over-analyzing it. Stop when it looks good and pull the trigger, choose the best path and execute.

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