7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Business April 22, 2014 / By Rayyan Islam
7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

What do Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder of Twitter and Square), Mark Cuban (Founder of Broadcast.com - sold to Yahoo and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) and Nick Woodman (Founder and CEO of GoPro) all have in common? Perhaps nothing. Or maybe quite a bit?

What do Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder of Twitter and Square), Mark Cuban (Founder of Broadcast.com - sold to Yahoo and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) and Nick Woodman (Founder and CEO of GoPro) all have in common? Perhaps nothing. Or maybe quite a bit? Truthfully, I don’t entirely have the answer. But what I do know is that I met one of them. And let me tell you, he is truly unique, and he stems from a different breed.

Countless studies and millions of dollars have gone into deciphering the contributing factors that make people the way they are and what makes them successful. But the sheer numbers of factors are gargantuan. From genetics, to upbringing, and experiences the possibilities are endless in truly molding the unique personalities of human beings. So how do we level the playing field?

Habitual or consistent behavior

From my travels, speaking engagements, and meeting with people from all walks of life from diverse backgrounds, I’ve noticed certain similarities that continue to be a motif within every successful entrepreneur and their behavior.

If some of these resonate with you, it’s my way of speaking directly to you, and that maybe, just maybe, you should consider taking a step towards a new and fulfilling direction. 

1) They have no respect for the status quo: 

This is a phrase that Steve Jobs often states when inspiring others to pursue powerful impactful work. I can now see why. There’s a reason entrepreneurs often times have at least a slight negativity to the corporate world, with constant bombardments on how “this is how it’s done,” or “we have to do it this way…” This kind of mentality drains entrepreneurial individuals from creativity. Genuine entrepreneurs look at the world in a way to improve it – they want to see the world around them grow and flourish, whether it be their friends, society or systems. This is why most people find them as inspiring because they’re some of the few people who constantly see through a lens of what things can BECOME rather than what they ARE.

2) They have something to prove:

They have high self-confidence and it’s extremely important for them to believe they are special. They work and work to do everything it takes to make that a reality. In their heads and in their hearts, they take on a superhero persona to venture on their quest, They have something to prove and they may not even be aware of to whom. But on some level, it's important for them to believe they are special. And they usually spend their lives doing everything in their power to make that a reality.

3) They think and act by themselves:

They are the free spirited free-flying birds amongst the uniform flock. They always have their own distinct way of doing things, their own process for working through elaborate predicaments, and coming up with the right decisions, and not fearing in executing on those decision. They are in many ways deviants, rebels, and individualistic thinkers - characteristics that current education systems don't necessarily reward or value. Hmmmm interesting. (Perhaps that's an idea for a future blog post.)

4) They absorb information that matters to them:

Information is key. Entrepreneurs are quick to pick up on things and confident in applying learned skills and knowledge. You’ll often notice that although most entrepreneurs weren’t tremendous students in school, (averaging roughly a 2.8 grade point average) they tend to all have in common an affinity and love for reading. In the modern era, the access to information is so readily available, there’s almost no excuse to not be able to learn something from using the internet or local library. Jay-Z in the 6th grade had a college level aptitude for reading. Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX, yet he had never studied astrophysics or aeronautical engineering in school, but when interviewed, he often replies that he had learned it all from reading lots of books. Mark Cuban shut himself in a room for years strictly working a day job, and then reading up on computer science books at night. They all put in the effort to learn by reading and by doing. Information is out there. It’s just a matter of you grabbing it. 

5) They approach their work like an Olympic athlete:

They have an obsessive fiery passion and desire for what they do. How many stories have you heard of Olympic athletes who had suffered from injury and were told they would never be able to walk again, yet they defied those notions and got back into the grind. Entrepreneurs think and do the same thing. It’s truly them against the world, and journey is never easy with perpetual naysayers and critics.

A perfect example is when J.J. Colao of Forbes had interviewed Co-founder of SnapChat Evan Spiegel as he recounts how most people hated the idea.

“Everyone said, ‘That is a terrible idea,’” Spiegel remembers. “Not only is nobody going to use it, they said, but the only people who do, will use it for sexting.” A venture capitalist sitting in on the class said it could be interesting, if he made the photos permanent and partnered with Best Buy. Spiegel nearly gagged.”— Evan Spiegel, interview with J.J. Colao, Forbes

Spiegel stuck to his guns and made it possible.

6) They love to solve problems:

They are very problem driven. They approach problems like they do a game, strategizing on how to overcome them, learn from them, and provide solutions. For most people problems equals stress, fatigue, nervousness – whereas entrepreneurs are excited to have the opportunity to solve it. You will often notice that because of this mentality, they tend to be very emotionally stable – being able to deal with the blows and punches of the startup roller coaster ride.

7) They understand the world of business:

This is the one when not fully realized, can be a fatal flaw in the startup world. As an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to enter the battle field without first understanding your business. Take the time to understand it. Read, pick up the phone and ask for help, get advice, put the time into learning the basic concepts of business from accounting to finance and marketing. Trust me, when you are equipped with that knowledge, you will be a more effective leader because of it. It hurts me to see bright engineers who have an amazing product but have no idea how their business model will work, how they will go out to raise money, how will they market and position themselves in the competitive landscape to succeed. These are all significant factors that are imperative to the success of the company.

So now you’re probably thinking wow, these sound amazing but are these characteristics pre-requisites for becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Not quite. Like your statistics professor told you, “correlation does not equal causation.”

Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds, industry experiences and skill sets. They are all unique, and that’s what makes them great. But what I do say with confidence is: if some of these characteristics elude to you – maybe it’s time you explore the world of entrepreneurship. Dare yourself to take that first step. And with hard work and dedication, who knows, you just might join the ranks of the most successful entrepreneurs in history alongside our friends Jack DorseyMark Cuban, or Nick Woodman.

The greatest energy we have is our potential. Don’t waste it. 

Like always, I'd love to hear your feedback, so never hesitate to start a conversation.

Keep hustling, my friends. 


This article originally appeared at Rayyan's blog.

Follow Rayyan on Twitter here.

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