7 Traits All Successful Entrepreneurs Share

By Bill Guting

The most successful entrepreneurs come from all different social classes, geographic locations, upbringings, education levels, income brackets, etc.

But regardless of their background, they all seem to share the following 7 traits:

1. Risk Takers

Now this needs some clarification, because I think many people are under the impression that entrepreneurs are high risk-takers … willing to put it all on the line for the big home run.


Sure, for some.  But in general most seem to be ‘calculated’ risk-takers.

Barbara Corcoran, one of the hosts of Shark Tank, created a $5 billion dollar real estate business … that she started with a $1,000 loan.  She bootstrapped it, and grew the business from cash flow.

That doesn’t sound like a crap shoot, does it?

On every single deal he analyzes, Donald Trump asks himself a couple of questions, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?  And if it happened, can I survive it and be ok?”

If the upside is huge, and he’s ok with the potential downside, he typically moves ahead.

Very calculated.

One of my businesses several years ago was a direct mail operation that we had grown to several million dollars in annual sales.  At one point, we were mailing 100,000 pieces a month … at a cost of around $50,000 just to get the letters in the mail.

Did we start out with 100k pieces?  Heck no, we used the Barbara Corcoran approach and scaled up from cash flow.

We started with 500 pieces and methodically scaled up as cash flow and profits allowed until we were at 100k pieces per month.

Metrics like response rates, cost per sale, back-end conversions, average back-end sale, etc. were tracked and measured every step of the way … making sure the numbers held up as our mailing volume increased.

It was a very measured and calculated growth strategy.  And not very risky.

2. Lots of Confidence

Samuel Johnson said… “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”

And here’s a quote from Jessica Alba: “My theory is that if you look confident you can pull off anything – even if you have no clue what you’re doing.” [By the way, if you didn't realize it, Alba is not only a top Hollywood actress, but now also a rock-star entrepreneur!]

So true … there’s absolutely, positively, no way you can do great things in the world if you’re lacking in confidence.

So how do you get it?

That the good news.  I think you just have to decide to have it.

Let me ask you a question.  What do you think comes first?

Confidence or Competence?

For many successful entrepreneurs, it’s confidence.  It has to be.

Because when you oftentimes start out with little to no money and resources, and you haven’t yet figured out the whole puzzle, you have no choice but to act and be confident ... or there’s no way you can expand and grow

Confidence turns you into a force of nature.  And it’s primarily a choice.

3. Learning Oriented

This is almost a universal trait among the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, and also among the wealthy: They crave learning.

I just listened to an interview with Charles Poloquin, who happens to be one of the best-known strength coaches in the world, having trained elite athletes from nearly 20 different sports.

The dude is prolific in his knowledge and writing ability, and quite the globe-trotting entrepreneur.

How does he start his day?  Well, first he gobbles down breakfast, but then right after, he consumes large amounts of information.

The first hour is dedicated to reading books and articles outside of his industry.  Then the second hour is focused on reading works within his industry.

This type of yearning for information is the norm among super successful entrepreneurs.  I honestly can’t think of even one exception.

4. Understands Failure is Part of the Game     

According to a Bloomberg report, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.

Yikes … that’s a whopping 80% that crash and burn.

This is normal.  And part of the terrain.

Successful entrepreneurs know this.  And understand this.

But rather than letting a so-called failure stop them, they see it as a learning opportunity, pick themselves back up, and give it another shot.

Until they succeed!

Henry Ford’s first 2 automobile companies went belly up.  Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for “lacking imagination” and “having no original ideas”.

And at age 30, Steve Jobs was unceremoniously booted out of Apple, the company he co-founded and started.

So if you’ve failed one or more times yourself, take heart … you’re in good company, and most likely on the right path if you’re still going and haven’t given up.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

- Michael Jordan

5. Great Networkers

Have you ever been to an event where you meet people who treat networking like a sport and just focus on getting as many business cards as possible?

And then have no real plan on what to do with those leads?

That doesn’t sound very effective to me.

Building relationships that are mutually beneficial is what networking is really all about.

And that takes time.  And being strategic.  And being focused FIRST on how you can help someone, rather than only thinking of ways you can benefit.

6. Ability to Sell and Promote

To many people, the word selling implies manipulation, high-pressure tactics, cajoling, and basically, strong-arming someone to do something that they really aren’t quite ready to do.

You know, all the stereotypes you might find in dealing with a used car salesman … or someone trying to sell you a Las Vegas Time Share, right?

Well, all that still exists.  And a lot of what they do at these places IS manipulation.

But that’s not selling in my book!

To me, it’s more about understanding needs, informing and educating, and delivering the right message to the right market.

Marketing gets an equally bad wrap as well sometimes.

I remember speaking to a group of around 30 or so real estate professionals and I asked the question … “How many of you love marketing?”

4 people raised their hand.

Which was stunning.  And really scary – if you happen to be an entrepreneur, business owner, or salesperson!

Why?  In my opinion, marketing is at least 80% responsible for the success or failure of your business.

It’s darn near the whole enchilada!

So if you happen to be in the camp that sees marketing or sales as a bit unseemly or manipulative, here’s a great definition of marketing that I heard from Joe Vitale:


“Marketing is sharing what you love in a passionate, enthusiastic, and sincere

way with the people who would be most interested in hearing about it.”


Now that sounds a lot more honorable and worthwhile, doesn’t it?

7. Full of Determination

If you have big goals you’re truly committed go going after, the one thing I can guarantee is that you’ll go through periods of major struggle and challenge.

I remember listening to an interview with Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, the day after his company went public and he had just become 3 Billion Dollars richer.

During the interview, he says something like … “The only reason I have the opportunity today to make over $3 Billion Dollars … is because I was willing to hang on and withstand the long stretches when we were losing a million dollars a day, and we had to ask our executives to not cash their checks until a certain day”.

That’s what you call having faith and belief.  And persistence.  And being engrained with a never-say-die determination.

Want to be a super success?

This is part of the path.

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