Do you have what it takes? — The Mind-Set of an Entrepreneur

What is an entrepreneur? Most writers depict them as some kind of mythical creature that works 26 hours a day and is fueled by coffee and ideas. Although this is a dramatic stereotype, there are attributes that a successful entrepreneur usually possesses. To define these attributes, we are going to delve into the psyche of a successful start-up entrepreneur:

1. Vision

The engine that drives all entrepreneurial success is vision. It allows inspired entrepreneurs to look beyond the status quo and see opportunities that others wouldn’t even consider. Through that vision is the foundation of every successful start-up. Even in already established fields, it is always that little spark of inspiration that sets successful entrepreneurs apart from their competitors.

In turn, lack of vision is one of the leading causes of start-ups failing. If nothing sets you apart from your competition, there is no reason for a customer to prefer you over others.

Although I am making it sound that you can just pop over to your local vision-shop and buy some, it is actually not that hard to acquire. Vision isn’t necessarily something you are born with but a way of thinking everyone can learn.

Let me give you an example. There is the old saying: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry again for the rest of his life.” The first approach solved the immediate problem. It fed the man. Approach number two on the other hand makes sure the problem will never occur again. Analysing the situation and finding a solution that not only solves the problem at hand, but also the source of the problem is vision. Look beyond the obvious and you will always be one step ahead of your competition.

2. Endurance

Building a successful business is not a sprint. Instead, it’s a marathon and a tough one at that. An alarming number of new business owners don’t acknowledge this fact and they rush through the steps to start their business as soon as possible. Thinking nothing can go wrong because they have a brilliant idea, important steps get neglected. That can lead to disaster in the long run. The start-up scrapyards are filled with excellent ideas that failed because of inadequate planning.

There are times to be decisive and fast to get a good deal or secure your position on the market. These decisions have to be based on careful planning so you can react to unexpected events.

Don’t expect your business to be a booming success from day one. A lot of the most influential companies of our time went through hard times before they reached the success they have today. Hard work and determination will be the fuel for a good idea to become a successful business. So make yourself comfortable, it’s going to be a long trip.

In addition, one last thing: Don’t try to be a unicorn. If your company is good enough, it will become one by itself.

3. Ambition

A rather obvious trait to have for a successful entrepreneur. It will drive you to achieve bigger and harder goals. However, the stance of never being satisfied with what you achieved is a double-edged sword. It is without a doubt an important motivator but it can also lead to all sorts of trouble if left unchecked.

The most common way ambition can hinder your success is burnout. Sometimes it is necessary to put in an all-nighter to close an important deal or make a critical deadline. If you let that behaviour become the norm, you will find yourself on the fast track to becoming sick. But why does ambition lead to such behaviour? Ambition turn focus into obsession. If you find yourself think of work all-day and fear that time spend not working on your business is time wasted, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your approach.

A refreshed 5-hour shift of focused work is usually more valuable than a tired and stressed 12-hour shift. Use your ambition wisely, so it becomes an advantage, not a hindrance.

4. Balance

The Ying to ambition’s Yang. Balance is what you use to avoid falling into the trap of over boarding ambition. To achieve maximum efficiency, one must be aware of the connection between the different parts that make up their life. It is not as easy as saying work is one part and life is another. Both are part of a bigger whole. This goes especially for entrepreneurs who are in the process of building a successful company. When you invest so much time and effort into something, it will inevitably become part of your life. To clearly separate between work and life is a privilege of the classic 9–5 job. For most people those lines are blurred. This poses as much a danger as it offers advantages. If you love what you do, work isn’t something to be feared, rather something to be enjoyed in a controlled way. Even if you found your calling in your work it is possible that you destroy that precious enjoyment by overworking. To prevent that from happening, you should always be aware of how much you work. Don’t just work until you are exhausted. Set specific time frames reserved for specified work. Take care of your health and your eating habits and you will gain a lot of energy, which then in turn can be invested back into your venture. The more organization you bring into those things the happier and more energetic you will be.

Learning to balance oneself will also lend perspective to corporate balance. Your company can be seen as a person itself. To focus too much energy on one department can leave the others starved of resources. Not investing in sustainability can lead to problems in the long run.

Take care of yourself. You will be much more efficient.

5. Flexibility

Stagnation breeds sickness. This goes for water and for your business. Imagine you managed to get your business into a good spot. You are selling decent amounts of product. Your revenue and costs allow for a nice profit. Everything seems to be going excellent, so why change anything? Change could mean to destroy the working system, right? Wrong. A new competitor enters the market. They notice a new development within the customer base and pounce. Suddenly your comfortable position is gone. You are struggling to come up with strategies to adapt to the new development. Since you didn’t plan for this eventuality, the competitor takes over you customer base and leaves you behind. But how does one keep from falling into that comfortable trap?

Successful entrepreneurs are highly flexible people. They never get comfortable in situation and are always on guard in case of change. If that change poses a threat to or offers an opportunity for the business, they adapt to the new information. No idea or concept should be written in stone. There should be enough freedom to adapt to circumstances. Even if you plan your business to the last detail, the environment will always force you to make on the spot adjustments.

Being this flexible allows you to exploit opportunities with ease, and keeps you one step ahead of your competition.

6. Curiosity

The fuel of the entrepreneur. You can be the most flexible, ambitious, balanced, visionary person in the world but without knowledge, these traits count for nothing. Knowing the status quo of the numerous important parts of your business is key to prolonged success. In the world of the ever-changing Internet the flow of information keeps getting bigger and faster by the minute. To keep up with the flow, you need to have an inherent sense of curiosity. Someone without that trait will find the daily research required to stay up-to-date extremely challenging.

Your thirst will allow you to predict and exploit trends, others might not even be aware of it yet. This will give you the edge on every market you choose to compete.

As all things, the hunt for knowledge requires balance. You need to prioritize your research. Trying to learn everything will only leave you overwhelmed. A good strategy is to become an expert in the most important fields regarding your business. Knowing where to find the knowledge in case you need it will be completely sufficient for the lower priority fields.

If you never stop learning, your business will keep being a success.


As you can see, an entrepreneur possesses no special super powers that separates them from as mere mortals. Successful entrepreneurs are just driven, knowledgeable people. Even if you don’t have all these attributes yet, a lot of them are something you acquired rather than a thing you are born with.

With discipline and endurance, you can basically learn all of them. It is never too late to be the best self you can be!

Do you think I forgot a crucial attribute? Let me know in the comments below.

This is the first part in multi part series on your way to your own business. Next time I will give some actionable advice regarding business ideas.