Entrepreneurial qualities: Do you have what it takes to start your own business?


Jared Kruger

30 Oct 2019

Reading time: 9 min Thought leadership articles
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You have a business idea, but something’s holding you back. The truth is, you don’t know if you can crack it as a business owner. You question whether you possess the qualities of an entrepreneur, and really, you’re not even sure what needs cracking in the first place. 

If this sounds like you, you’ve clicked your way to the right place. Welcome!

Unravelling the Entrepreneur Definition
Personality of an Entrepreneur
Qualities of an Entrepreneur
Learning to Get Ahead

What Does It Take To Start A New Business?

Entrepreneurs are like your grandmother’s famous chocolate chip cookies. If that sentence has left you feeling a little perplexed, intrigued and snacky all at the same time, then I encourage you to keep reading… 

Many of us waste time worrying about whether we were born with the right stuff to make it as entrepreneurs. We wonder if we possess the right personality traits, status and qualities to hack it in the business world. And, for many, it’s this self doubt that prevents us from moving forward with our ideas in the first place. 

But entrepreneurs, just like your granny’s cookies, weren’t born. They were created by using the right combination of ingredients. While it’s easy to only focus on the end product, we need to take a look at the individual ingredients needed to make the end goal possible.

Unravelling the entrepreneur definition

The definition of entrepreneurship is an overly simplified one. In fact, Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Just Google it. And, even when you do, Google will tell you an entrepreneur is “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope for profit.” Not that insightful.

Yes, these definitions tell us in broad brush strokes what it means to be an entrepreneur, but neither will tell you the key ingredients needed to be a good one. 

So, how can we redefine what it means to be an entrepreneur today? What’s the personality of an entrepreneur? Does personality type even matter? When theory fails, we turn to our references, i.e. individuals who’ve lived and breathed life into what it means to be an entrepreneur

Do you have the personality of an entrepreneur?

What traits do Richard Branson and Elon Musk have in common? To be honest, not many. 

If the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is anything to go by, you’ll discover that Branson and Musk are examples of entrepreneurs who are poles apart. The “Screw It, Let’s Do It” attitude of Branson is a far cry from the introverted, observant nature of Elon Musk. While Branson is often described as someone who is loud, tactful, influential and persuasive, Musk is more commonly spoken of as independent, innovative, a perfectionist and confident. Different, but both successful. 

In other words, there is no perfect personality type to be an entrepreneur. Each person is born with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, and it’s identifying and being aware of these that makes the difference. So, if personality doesn’t matter, what does?

While the personality characteristics of an entrepreneur may differ, a few key qualities do tend to overlap…

The most important qualities of an entrepreneur

Personality might not matter, but these professional qualities sure do. Richard Branson and Elon Musk may be as different as oil and water, but both possess the crucial qualities of an entrepreneur that make them successful.

1 Strong work ethic 

“Work like hell. Put in 100 hour weeks every week.” – Elon Musk

Successful entrepreneurs are those who show others time and time again that they aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re the first to arrive at the office and don’t stop until they see a project through. 

2 Undeniable passion

“The best advice I could give anyone is to spend time working on whatever you are passionate about in life” – Richard Branson

Entrepreneurs have a strong connection with what they do, and focus all their energy on it. It gives them pleasure to see the results of their labour, which goes well beyond the money they make. 

3 Resilience

“No, I don’t ever give up. I’ll have to be dead or completely incapacitated” – Elon Musk

When or if they stumble, an entrepreneur will pick themselves up again. They adapt well in times of trouble, and are unwavering in their positivity and need to succeed. 

4 Self-discipline

“You don’t get paid for having ideas. You get paid for making them happen” – Richard Branson

A surgeon doesn’t stop an operation just because he doesn’t “feel like doing it today”, and the same goes for entrepreneurs. There are aspects of a job that you might not like doing, but entrepreneurs do them anyway, because that is what’s needed. 

5 Most importantly, take risks

“When something is important enough, you do it. Even if the odds are not in your favour” – Elon Musk

All entrepreneurs need to take risks. They take their ventures into uncertain environments, unaware of the future.  A characteristic required by any entrepreneur is the ability to be comfortable with uncertainty, without being reckless. 

While possessing and focusing on these entrepreneurial qualities can help put you on the path to business success, don’t neglect the importance of preparation. There are a number of skills that entrepreneurs must learn in order to prepare to succeed

Learning to Get Ahead

Whether you want to be the next Tesla, or a small but successful family-run business, there are a few essential skills you’ll need to learn to make your transition into the business world easier. An entrepreneur wears many hats at the start of a venture – from recruitment, to marketing, to finance – so acquiring the right business skills from the get-go is crucial. 

Some of the most vital skills an entrepreneur will need to learn include:

  • Marketing, branding and advertising (and knowing the difference)
  • Organisation and time management 
  • Project management
  • Accounting and budgeting
  • People management
  • Data analysis and reporting

….and then some more.

To get the best start on your entrepreneurial journey, Startup School encourages you to apply for our next presentation of the Startup School Entrepreneurship Course. The online course is  run by industry mentors, who are there to guide you through every step. Course content is developed in such a way that entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey will benefit. 

Whether you need help defining your business, developing a business plan, or setting up your business structure, there’s something in it for you. This practical course develops entrepreneurs who are equipped with the tools needed to pitch their business to prospective investors, as well as the chance to win R100 000 funding for their business.

Learn more about our 12 week Entrepreneurship Course here. 


1 Comment

#11: Africa Made Only: Becoming a small business with big impact – Startup School

[…] School alumnus and founder of Africa Made Only, Ryan talks about the challenges and rewards of leaping into entrepreneurship, and the difference between working in your business versus on your business. He inspires us with […]

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