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What Defines an Entrepreneur?

By Townes Haas   |    April 2, 2014   |    12:28 PM

Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as someone “who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money”. Basically, an entrepreneur is a person who doesn’t mind taking a chance on something new, hoping that the return on investment outweighs the risk and capital expenditures.

While anyone can take a risk, successful entrepreneurs have certain characteristics that help them succeed in crowded and competitive marketplaces and economies.

Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

    ‘Never Say Die’ Attitude: Starting your own business requires commitment – commitment to uncertainty and overcoming major barriers. Entrepreneurs are completely dedicated, tenacious and passionate about their service or product. When they’re not, they probably won’t have the determination to keep going when failures and mistakes occur.

    Action-takers: Doing well with a single business or project is great. Good entrepreneurs, however, always want to know what’s next. Markets and demand can change overnight. They’re actively looking for their next opportunity. Being self-employed is not the end of the journey; it’s just the beginning for entrepreneurs. They’re committed to sustaining this lifestyle.

    Clear Vision: Being able to see an opportunity before it’s an opportunity is a native characteristic to the most successful entrepreneurs. They may already have a thriving business or two, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t jump at a new opportunity when they see it. Eldad Matityahu, former owner of Net Optics, summed it up best: "Entrepreneurs often face naysayers because we see the future before the future plays out. You have to be several steps ahead of the market.”

    Frugal: Successful entrepreneurs are not riding around in the most expensive cars or living in the largest mansion. Most entrepreneurs live very frugal lives. In fact, one of the most successful in the business Warren Buffet says that toys are “just a pain in the neck”.

    Risk-Takers: According to a study by Ross Levine of the University of California, Berkeley, and Yona Rubinstein of the London School of Economics, successful entrepreneurs tend to be rule breakers. In fact, most of the surveyed entrepreneurs had a mixture of both “smarts” and willingness to take “aggressive, illicit, risk-taking activities”.

    Constantly Looking to the Future: Great entrepreneurs never are content with where they are. They are always looking ahead, setting goals, learning new skills and becoming an expert in what they do. They know where they want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years, and know what it takes to get there. If they don’t have the necessary skills, they’ll make sure to learn them.

    Willing to Accept Failure: Entrepreneurs always want to do well, but they also understand that failure is part of the process. They learn from their mistakes and use the lessons to make their next venture better than the last.
A real entrepreneur understands that life is about risk, but calculated risk can get you large returns if you are dedicated and constantly looking for the right opportunity.
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