Characteristics of a Good Entrepreneur

Many of my posts stem from ideas or issues that arise in my life, this one is no different. Yesterday a series of events played out that made me want to discuss the characteristics of a good entrepreneur. To be frank these characteristics are also ones found in all productive people.

The event yesterday had to do with a promising individual that received some pushback for their efforts. As a result the individual was upset, and rightfully so, because they believed they were doing everything they should be doing only to have the door slammed in their face. Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t right now some day it will.

As entrepreneurs, or in the work place there will come times when no matter what you do it will fill like you are fighting an uphill battle. You will need to have discursion here but there is a good chance you are indeed doing exactly what you need to be doing. Whether it be the market or other people that push back you are bound to get it even with the best ideas or with your best efforts. In my situation I was able consul the individual and remind them that their inherent value will prevail regardless of circumstance.

 Luck, a Zero Sum Game.

In his recent book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All Jim Collins discusses the zero sum nature of luck. His team found that comparable organizations with differing performance were exposed to the same number of “good luck” circumstances as they were to “bad luck” circumstance. His assessment determined that circumstance played less of a role in how a company preformed than did the company’s response to the circumstance. Said another way it’s not what happens to you that matters but rather how you respond. In the case of the pre-mentioned individual I reminded them about this reality and pointed out that we always have a choice to dwell on misfortune or use it to fuel our next step.  

Inherent Value Over Clever Play

This point is especially pertinent for those of you in a work environment. If you are currently working under an employer and are working your way through the ranks it would be prudent of you to understand your inherent value. What is it that you specifically bring to the table that others don’t? I am not talking about responsibilities mind you; I am talking about your specific characteristics. A good employee does what they are told at great employee leverages their strengths for the betterment of their organization.   

In highly competitive environments leveraging your inherent value will server you better than trying to out maneuver your competition. If you allow yourself to get caught up in the games people play you will only be hurting yourself in the long run. People that play games in the workplace are a cancer and may see short term recognition but will never see long term success. We can’t fake who we are, our performance is a direct consequence of our character not the result of strategic plays. Here is a link for more tips on succeeding in the workplace.    



That said, you need to know your direction. Where are you now and where are you headed? If you can answer this you are on the right track. You would be surprised at how many people don’t know where they are headed. Having a direction is the first characteristics of a good entrepreneur. You will never run into a successful business man or woman that isn’t thinking a few steps ahead. They can do this because they know where they want to be in 5,10, 20 years.
(Warning! Shameless plug coming…) In an effort to help entrepreneurs find their focus I created a process modeled after the Theory of Constraints thinking process in my eBook; “Zero Risk Startup”. (…Shameless plug over).

Truth be told finding ones direction is not the easiest thing to do. Even if you have an idea of where you are headed you probably don’t know the specifics of how you are going to get there. So, don’t be discouraged if this proves to be challenging, it should be. The mere fact that you are taking the time to put things in black and white will help you down the road.


I have heard it said that the single common thread among successful individuals is persistence. With enough persistence you can achieve anything. Edison and the light bulb, Gates with Microsoft, and the forefathers of our nation all pushed through tremendous challenges to achieve their goals. If you push hard enough long enough there is nothing that can stand in your way.

There is an analogy in the Theory of Constraints that talks about a crack in a brick wall. In addressing your challenge (the wall) your initial goal is not to knock it down or blow through it, you simply must make a crack. If you can make a crack you know it is only a matter of time before you will be through. Personally I have found this quite encouraging especially when I started building websites. It took a while before I made my first $1.00 online but once I did I knew I had found my crack and only time stood in my way.

Willingness to Work

Lastly I want to mention that nothing will come to you if you are not willing to work for it. There is no 100% passive means to succeed. The closest you will get to passive income or success will come in the form of a flywheel. After a fly wheel gets spinning it doesn’t take much to keep it going but more work is required to keep it from stopping. This means you probably won’t see a return for your efforts right away but know that with time fruit will come from your continued hard work.

My Dad is a superb example of someone with a great work ethic. He could have retired years ago but chose not to because he feels (and I agree) that a man needs his work. When he could hire out a job he did it himself. When there is a job to be done he leans into it rather than shying away. Think of the successful entrepreneurs you know and ask yourself how hard do they work? I will guarantee they work hard.

As a side note I have seen in recent years a decline in younger generation’s willingness to work and a rise in their sense of entitlement. I don’t know why this is but finding good help is becoming a harder and harder task.

That’s All

I hope that helps shed some light on the fundamental truths the lie behind good entrepreneurs. There is no special sauce just good old fashion hard work, focus, and persistence. If you can obtain these qualities I can bet you will see great improvement regardless of your situation.  


About TJ

Engineer and Entrepreneur