7 Surprising Traits of an Entrepreneur

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We often have set definitions or expectations of what a certain type of person should be like. But it’s surprising how some characteristics―that might seem unfit for a particular role―can be the very ones that are perfectly suited to it.

Take entrepreneurship, for example. If you think that some of your personality traits might hold you back from being the ultimate entrepreneur, think again. Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite, reflects on this in “7 Unexpected Signs You Might be an Entrepreneur”. Here are some interesting qualities that he came across:

1. You’re restless, and no achievement ever seems good enough.

“When most people reach a goal they think, ‘I did it! Time to sit back and enjoy it for a while.’ An entrepreneur thinks, ‘Great, what’s next?’… They’re always itching to find and take on the next challenge.” 

Many entrepreneurs that I know of had/have several ventures going on. Whether or not some or all of these are successful, they never stop looking for “the next big thing”, even if they eventually find it. This is not chronic dissatisfaction, but rather the belief that they can always be and do something better.

2. You’re a control freak.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to strike a balance between controlling my business and letting the talented people around me take the reins. It turns out that many of my entrepreneur friends struggle with the same challenge.” 

Now Ryan notes this can be problematic, as it’s frustrating for employees and those who have to work with them. However, as long as it doesn’t hinder people from doing a good job, or negatively affect the company, there’s nothing wrong with being detail-oriented / a perfectionist. In fact, depending on the type of product or service you offer, this can be a very good thing.

3. You’re a masochist.

“As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to love a little pain and a lot of risk. Consider the fact that 75 percent of new startups fail. Only a masochist sets himself up to face those kind of odds, straight out of the gate. And it doesn’t get much better after that…” 

“Masochist” might seem like an unnecessarily strong word here, but it’s true. People who fall into this category tend to work unbearably long hours, sacrificing social/family life. They’re often by themselves, and end up struggling with the business and struggling to make money. The funny thing is, they usually know that they’ll face these hurdles―yet they dive in anyway.

4. You have a love-hate relationship with money.

“Entrepreneurs generally fall in love with making money really early in life… But, eventually, many entrepreneurs are driven less by money and more by the innate thrill of launching a new venture and the freedom and control that come with it.” 

Sometimes it seems that it’s just all about the money. Yes it might start that way, but then, increasingly, the focus tends to shift to (non-financial) success, recognition, creating something that changes the world. “Passion”, of course, is the key word here, and money becomes just a bonus―and a sort of indication that you’re on the right track.  (Or even signaling that it’s time to launch something new and more challenging!)

5. You’re a black sheep, and maybe even a dropout.

“Many entrepreneurs describe themselves as not fitting in with the crowd… Lots of notable entrepreneurs have even ended up ditching the traditional education system altogether. 

While it’s not always easy to be the outsider, it’s exactly this quality—seeing things through a different lens from the rest of the world—that can help move society forward and drive innovation.” 

Potential entrepreneurs may resist the inflexibility of some schools and learning institutions, and eventually abandon it altogether. Furthermore, their type of creativity, imagination or radical way of thinking could isolate them from the people around them. This is not a bad thing at all, as later on, these qualities could become the very factors that set their business apart from the competition.

6. People think you’re crazy.

“Because entrepreneurs tend to think along different wavelengths, their ambitions can often come across as crazy to friends and family—especially before the vision has been made a reality.” 

Somewhat similar to the previous trait, entrepreneurs often have a vision that usually nobody else can see! Their aspirations may seem a little too grand, a little too unrealistic, but these are what drive them forward and lead them to success. Of course, we’re not talking about real insanity here, just a little craziness that pushes them toward invention and innovation. 

7. You’re somewhat introverted.

“It turns out that roughly four in 10 top executives… identify as introverts. Research suggests that introverts in the workplace foster a better team environment than their extroverted peers. And introverts are also known to be good listeners, a greatly overlooked but essential asset for good leadership.” 

This is perhaps the most surprising trait. One often thinks of entrepreneurs as chatty, vibrant and in-your-face type of people, but the opposite is often true. Extroverts don’t necessarily make the best leaders, and introverts can be quietly influential in company. Many entrepreneurs also need time alone for inspiration and better productivity. This may come as a relief to those introverts who think they have to be sociable to succeed!

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So what do you think―are these completely wrong? Or can you identify with these entrepreneurial traits?

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