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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

10 Attributes of an Exceptional Entrepreneur

Written By: Brad Shorr | 6 Comments

Finishing FirstWhat separates ordinary entrepreneurs from extraordinary ones? Here’s a checklist of attributes needed to hit it big. How do you stack up?

1. Energy. Building a business is not an 8-hour-a-day gig; it could be almost double that. You need physical and mental stamina to get the job done day after day, year after year.

2. Drive. Successful entrepreneurs have a laser-like, almost maniacal fixation on their ultimate business goals. Maintaining such a high level of drive crowds out other areas of life – are you willing to pay the price?

3. Vision. Not only are great entrepreneurs fixated on their goals, but their goals are also incredibly clear — and incredibly worthwhile. Pursuing goals that are vague or useless cannot lead to success. The best entrepreneurs have a deep understanding of the business territory and a keen sense of where the opportunities are.

4. Intuition. Great entrepreneurs seldom rely on facts and figures to make business decisions; instead, they “just know.” Sure, they use and value quantitative data, but they never become a prisoner of percentages. Why? Because great entrepreneurs have …

5. Boldness. Achieving extraordinary results never comes from playing it safe. Great entrepreneurs have the willingness and courage to take calculated risks – and sometimes, even uncalculated ones. Their motto is: Go big or go home.

6. Resilience. If you pout for days after a stinging defeat, if you take your ball and go home after the ump blows a call, success will forever elude you. Great entrepreneurs never unravel because of bad execution, bad circumstances or bad luck. Instead, they just keep going, like the Energizer Bunny.

7. Adaptability. Great entrepreneurs change tactics on a dime. Their extraordinary vision enables them to see the terrain clearly, but their adaptability gives them the power to adjust, rethink and redeploy. Adaptability is the Achilles’ heel of large organizations, thus making it the key advantage for entrepreneurs who know how to use it.

8. Persuasiveness. Convincing yourself that you have a great business plan is not enough. To be extraordinarily successful, you must have the ability to persuade others to buy into your vision, not an easy task.

9. Integrity. Shortcuts and snake oil are for losers. Entrepreneurs who win big conduct business ethically. Yes, they push hard and negotiate like tigers, but they also deliver on their promises and consider the long- and short-term business consequences of their actions.

10. Humility. Successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with associates who are smarter than they are. Without the willingness to delegate and a team capable of handling the workload, an enterprise is sure to flounder. Combining humility with other characteristics such as boldness and vision – now there’s the trick! Perhaps this is why there are so few truly outstanding entrepreneurs.

Over to You 

Probably nobody can score a perfect “10” on these attributes, but anyone who scores less than “5” may have a tough road ahead as an entrepreneur. With that in mind, a few questions for you:

  • Which of these 10 attributes do you think is the most important?
  • Which of these 10 attributes do you think is the least important?
  • What attributes can you add to the list?
Article written by
Brad Shorr is the Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. With many years of entrepreneurial experience, he writes frequently on business strategy and content marketing topics.