real entrepreneurs, elon musk

7 Characteristics Real Entrepreneurs Have in Common

When asking people are entrepreneurs born or made, there is quite some debate between both sides. To become a successful entrepreneur, one needs to equip with heavy amounts of mental toughness, discipline, knowledge, and skills. The evolution of economy and technology allows almost anyone to become an entrepreneur, but it’s clear that the career title is not for everyone.

I believe there is no defined blueprint to become a successful entrepreneur. But at the same time, I firmly stand on the side that entrepreneurs are made. You can be born with genetic advantages from having better memory or faster-learning ability or simply higher physical toughness, these won’t guarantee you success.  Most characteristics shared among real entrepreneurs are picked up through the journey of their hustle.

And here are 7 traits and characteristics real entrepreneurs have in common:

7 Characteristics Real Entrepreneurs Have in Common


  1. Vision

One of the defining characteristics every real entrepreneur should have is the ability to create and deliver a vision. The trait to be curious and not settle for less push entrepreneurs forward to imagine what’s not there yet, then they strive to innovate and thus grab on the opportunity to be the pioneers in that particular field.

Elon Musk is one great example of an entrepreneur with a huge vision to transform humanity, and he brought great innovations that changed the world for better. But before he did that, he was a visionaire.

“Vision is the art of seeing what’s invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Your vision doesn’t need to be ambitious. I believe that small vision works as good as huge one (sometimes even better) as long as it fits into your context. You don’t need to change the world, all you need to do is change your world.

Love what you do and be passionate about the vision you have in mind, then take consistent action to make it your reality.

  1. Self-belief

The next “must-have” characteristic for entrepreneurs is to be confident. To have a vision is simply not enough, you need to stand firm on your vision, believe in yourself and harness the ability to deliver that idea to someone else. They can be your team members, readers, customers or raving fans.

If you’re don’t believe in your own vision, no one else will. But how to harness your self-belief and self-confidence? By gaining more references to your vision or idea. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Execute on your idea to gain results (good or bad), then adjust
  • Share your vision to gain feedback, then adjust
  • Find a role model who can further support your idea

With the right references in line, and application of the feedback loop, you’ll be able to fine-tune your idea and vision, and be more confident and believe in what you do.

  1. Flexibility

Business is a survival game, you need to be adaptive. A real recent example is Blackberry, they were at the top of the the game before the iPhone came, and now they are almost out of business. Why? They were not willing to adapt to the market that was changing.

To be a real successful entrepreneur, you need to have a certain level of flexibility.

Your end product or service will probably be way different than what you set out in your initial plan, because the market is evolving as you read this, so you have to evolve to.

To be able to adapt, you need to be very honest with yourself when you see a problem or a mistake, tell yourself “this isn’t working” frankly and take immediate action to pivot. Always keep an open mind and willingness to learn from your mentors (if you have one), role models, competitors and most importantly your customers.

  1. Focus

One guaranteed path to be a real successful entrepreneur is to be focused, and one guaranteed way to fail is to dabble. Yeah, there are people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson that run multiple businesses, but they are superhuman.

Are they really superhuman?

My answer is no, successful entrepreneurs with multiple businesses are already in the “field” for decades, with an empire of resources including capital, manpower, network, and reputation that we clearly do not have yet. Dabble in multiple businesses at the same time is going to dilute your focus on what matters the most, and may result in nothing get done at the end of the day.

It’s going to wear you out mentally and physically. So, focus on one thing at a time, put in all your effort to make it work and multiply your success from there, you can either expand your existing business or get involve in a new venture after you set up a foundation.

“Mastery is the guaranteed path to success” – Anonymous

  1. Resourcefulness

When asking what’s the biggest challenge to start and run a successful business, most people will give you these answers.

  • Capital and fund
  • Labor and manpower
  • Knowledge and skills
  • Connection
  • Luck
  • And more

But is it true? It’s true if the person who starts or run the business is not resourceful, and not flexible. In this era of abundance with all these resources we have at the palm of our hands (smartphones) and the ease of access to any information, starting a business has never been easier.

But starting a business and making a business a success are two totally different things. So you need to be very resourceful, you have to be willing to learn, improve and take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. All the information you need is out there, but you need to go out and find it. Make Google, your new best friend.

  1. Mental Toughness

Clearly, starting a business is not an easy journey, it can be exciting and at the same time challenging and heart-breaking. A real entrepreneur will be forced to make tough decisions on a daily basis.

It’s more likely for entrepreneurs with that are mentally tough to succeed compared to those who get depressed and break down easily. It’s not just because people who are tough mentally manage their emotions better and are able to cope with more stress, mentally tough entrepreneurs simply give up way later. And perseverance is the key to success, there is no such thing as an overnight success.

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.” – Eddie Cantor

There are 3 strategies I suggest you to do to boost your mental toughness:

  • Stay consistent with your decisions, action and work. Don’t do it only when you feel highly motivated, stick to your schedule and show up when you need to. Success doesn’t care about your mood.
  • Spend time to reflect. Understand your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses and realize that you will face a lot of challenges.
  • Embrace challenges and celebrate every small win because mental toughness is like a muscle, the more you train it, the better it gets.
  1. Integrity

Integrity plays a huge role in the success of your entrepreneurial journey. It directly contributes to the relationship and trust you build with anyone involved in the business from investors to team members to customers. Not a single business transaction can be done without a sufficient amount of trust.

But, it’s more than that…

Being an entrepreneur with integrity is not just about starting a business and making a profit in the long run and serving people. Along the journey of innovating, creating, managing, selling and marketing, you will soon pick up a double-edged skill: the ability to persuade.

You’re going to persuade your investors, affiliates, employees, and customers, which are going to shape the economy directly. The culture and mindset you possess over your team and anyone who work directly with you, and the impact your product or services creates on your customers – will shape the community, the society and even the next generation in a direct way.

Having the mindset of bringing value to people around you and society should be a part of your vision. When you’re able to plant an idea and create an impact in someone else’s mind and life, use that ability wisely.

Take A Leap Of Faith

Understand yourself and what matters to you most, if you have an idea and you are obsessed to make it a reality, take a leap of faith and give it a try. The journey is tough but with the right mindset, you can pick up the required skills and nurture those characteristics to become a real successful entrepreneur in the future.

Photo credit: OnInnovation

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