Top Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Top Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs

So you want to step out on your own, or build a company from scratch, or launch a new non-profit, or plant a church? It is likely you’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit. Awesome…but do you have the essential qualities successful start-up leaders say you’ll need to break through?

A WSJ article on March 19 lists the results of a survey of successful entrepreneurs. Here are the top qualities they listed in order of importance:

  • Vision
  • Passion
  • Drive
  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Risk-taker
  • Resilience
  • Pro-activeness
  • Relentless customer focus
  • Ability to team
  • Flexibility

When asked, “Where did you pick up the capabilities needed to be successful?” they responded as follows (also in order of importance):

  • Experience as an employee
  • Higher education
  • Mentors
  • Family
  • Co-founders
  • Secondary education
  • Colleagues
  • Senior executives/board
  • Friends
  • Investors

First, it is no surprise that vision, passion, and drive are at the top of the qualities list.  You have to have your start-up in your gut, not just in your head. By itself, an idea is worth very little. But an idea that is developed, tried, refined, funded, and desperately needed will go a long way. The person who can move an idea into action, and works hard pulling others together with integrity and passion, will turn it into something transforming.

When it comes to an innovative idea, you cannot just see it – you must see it through!

And second, it is no surprise that experience (rightly evaluated and understood) combined with formal and informal learning environments, is our best teacher. Formally, classroom instruction can broaden our intellectual horizons and sharpen our abilities to engage and defend ideas. Informally, mentors, family members and our co-founding partners bring their experiences – successes and failures – into contact with ours.

The takeaway? Discover what is in your gut and go after it. Stick with it through failure and disappointment. But never do it alone, because you’ll need others to learn from and maybe cry with. Be relentless about the quality and usefulness of your product, service or mission. Become a voracious learner, and invite others to join your team in the grand pursuit of your life-changing vision.

And watch what happens! We all might be very surprised!

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

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