10 Powerful Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs that You Can Copy

Entrepreneurs are made, not born. They come from all walks of life, circumstances and skillsets. There is no secret: by modelling the behaviour, mindset and actions of successful entrepreneurs (and by learning a few simple business principles) you can achieve similar results.

You don’t need a privileged education. You don’t need to know the right people. You don’t need a bulging bank account to get started. Success is a series of small action performed consistently over time. Here then are 10 traits that can be repeatedly found in high-achieving entrepreneurs that are available to anyone.

10 habits of successful entrepreneurs

  1. Never stop learning. Successful entrepreneurs never stop learning. They are naturally curious about the world around them and want to know why things are the way they are; how things work; what’s the latest trend and so on. An entrepreneur’s lifeblood is “ideas”. By being in touch with the world around them, they can identify problems (i.e. opportunities), better ways to do something and new information that can help them succeed.
  2. Know your strengths. Work on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses to people better than you. Weaknesses will always be weaknesses (to a degree) so don’t waste too much time on them. You’re better off continuously working on your strengths to make them even stronger. High-achievers often have a problem accepting their weak areas. By definition, they want to excel at everything. However, this is not always possible. You can shoot hoops all you want but if you’re 5ft tall, you’ll never be the next Michael Jordan. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were not the most technically-capable people in their industry. They respected the fact that their strengths lay elsewhere and they employed others to do what they did not excel at.
  3. Success is a process. Almost every day you hear about a 20-something entrepreneur selling their startup for millions; or a new product that sells thousands of units overnight. These are examples of “events” – the culmination of months, even years of hard work. Successful entrepreneurs don’t believe in events; they believe in process. They believe in showing up and doing the work; they understand there will be setbacks and that success is not a straight line. Don’t expect it to be glamorous or plain sailing.
  4. Set goals. Know what you want to achieve. Vague wants aren’t going to cut it. You need a clear vision of where you want to go with your life, where you want to end up. Having a direction is essential. Your plan may not survive “contact with the enemy” but the process of planning is what’s important, not the plan itself. Identify 1-3 major goals for your life and concentrate on them one at a time. If you aim for lots of different targets at once, you may not hit any of them.
  5. Accept responsibility. Successful entrepreneurs go into every business with eyes wide open. They take calculated risks and a part of that is accepting that things may not work out, despite their best efforts. They don’t blame others or circumstances. The moment you blame external factors, you are relinquishing your power. Delegate tasks but never the responsibility.
  6. Focus. Many entrepreneurs have a long list of things they want to do with their life. (Entrepreneurship tends to attract people who are engaged with the world). There’s always another project to start, something new to learn, a new goal to go after. However, if you say yes to everything you come across, you run the risk of failing in your most important goals, i.e. you do lots of things to an average (even poor) standard and excel at nothing. If you want to go further, stay focused. A simple test is if something doesn’t make you think, “Hell yeah, let’s start now“, you should probably pass.
  7. Have a role model. The purpose of a role model is to help you maximise your efficiency and chances of success. Role models come in many varieties. They don’t have to be one person. Anything and anyone from which you can learn is a role model: books, courses, videos, strangers, colleagues, even fictional characters – fit the bill. For different areas of your life – social, financial, professional, relationships, health and fitness etc. – identify a role model you can use. Ask yourself, “What would John do in this situation?” or “What would an expert do in my situation?” And if you don’t have a role model? Act “as if” you were already successful in your chosen area.
  8. Work hard and smart. The success of books like The Four Hour Workweek has instilled a mistrust of hard work: “If you’re working hard, you must be doing something wrong” is the logic. It’s a dangerous attitude to buy in to. Hard work is still the surest way to succeed and for every Tim Ferriss who makes it on four hours a week, there are millions who get nowhere because they don’t want to put the work in. Always be wary of anyone who tells you there’s an easy way to succeed. They’re probably trying to sell you something. But don’t confuse busyness with effectiveness. You need to be working on the correct stuff.
  9. Build connections. Have you noticed how extremely successful people tend to know each other? This is not a coincidence. You can become a huge success in life simply through building connections. You can make a lot of money bringing people together; you can meet the love of your life; you can have experiences that you would never dream of – simply by building bridges, connecting with others and nurturing relationships.
  10. Listen and notice. Successful entrepreneurs are hungry for information. They want to know what’s going in their business; what customers are saying; what are staff upset about; what commentators are saying; the opportunities – and threats – on the horizon. Successful entrepreneurs listen more than they talk and not only do they listen to the words, they also listen to what is not being said and pay attention to the speaker’s body language. 

Takeaway points

  1. Entrepreneurs are made, not born. It’s a skill that can be learned.
  2. Successful entrepreneurs exhibit common traits that are available to anyone.
  3. Entrepreneurs are simply individuals with a goal, who are willing to work hard and smart and who know success is not a straight line.

Action steps

  1. Identify a skill from above to work on. Identify a step you can take to start moving in the right direction. For the next 60 days, spend just 10 minutes a day applying this new skill. For example, if your goal is to build connections, spend time on LinkedIn introducing yourself to contacts you would be genuinely interested in networking with.
  2. Identify your strengths. What are your strongest skills? How can you further develop them? If you haven’t done so already, can you build your personal brand around these areas?
  3. Delegate your weaknesses. What activities are your weakest? Which ones drain you physically, mentally and emotionally? Which ones are an inefficient use of your time? Search Upwork to see if you can find freelancers and virtual assistants to outsource the task to.


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