What Makes an Entrepreneur?

Who do you think of when you think of a successful entrepreneur? Tech giant Steve Jobs or flamboyant Sir Richard Branson?

Most people have the wrong idea about entrepreneurs. They believe that entrepreneurs are all Type-A, larger-than-life, rule-breaking mavericks. But many successful entrepreneurs are behind-the-scenes introverts that know how to play the game rather than breaking any rules.


Do you think owning a business makes you an entrepreneur? Many business owners are self-employed rather than entrepreneurial. They work far too many hours and don’t see the returns—in terms of profit, freedom, satisfaction or lifestyle—that they long for. An entrepreneur creates growth, more income streams, more businesses, and more jobs. They don’t just work for their business: their businesses work for them.

Can you become an entrepreneur? Yes, if you realize that there are different types of entrepreneurs; success means figuring out which you are; and success means doing what you do best. Successful entrepreneurs understand what their strengths are and they leverage these strengths for the best outcomes. They know how to make the best of their natural talents; realize when they need to offset their deficiencies with education or the talents of others; and consider their business ideas in light of market value and potential for growth.

You’ll need to develop these four important entrepreneurial competencies: motivation, belief, creativity and risk tolerance.


There’s a reason that we think successful entrepreneurs are driven. They are! They have to work hard to make their dreams a reality and persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks. But you don’t have to be a Type-A personality to have motivation: you just have to understand what really motivates you.

Most people don’t reach their goals or achieve the lives they want because they set the wrong goals or confuse what really matters to them with what they think they’re supposed to achieve or supposed to want. That’s why they lose motivation along the way or don’t experience real satisfaction once they have checked goals off their list.


There are two components of belief that are important for entrepreneurship: self-efficacy and locus of control. Self-efficacy refers to the belief that you can succeed, that you can learn what you need to and can learn from your mistakes. Locus of control has to do with how you think of your life. Do you think success is due to luck? Destiny? Fate? Do you think you are the author of your life or that your story has already been written? Successful entrepreneurs arise from many different religions and belief systems but they all believe that they have some degree of power and influence in the course of their own lives. What they do matters.


Creativity is so fundamental to entrepreneurship that most people fear it like the plague. They think: “I am not creative, I cannot come up with a revolutionary idea, or I cannot invent anything that will matter.” But creativity is another human characteristic—not just an entrepreneurial characteristic. We’re all creative. You’re creative when you think of a better way to clean a shirt, deliver a package or get all of your daily errands done more efficiently. You’re creative when you see how someone else’s idea can be improved or applied in a whole new way.

Risk Tolerance

Fear of risk is the biggest obstacle—and one of the biggest myths—about entrepreneurship. Sure, some people are naturally inclined to take risks and others are naturally cautious. But successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks. They do their research, they consider their strengths, they consider the market, and while they do work on growing a thicker skin…they don’t do anything that goes against the grain for them either. Consider Warren Buffet: he doesn’t invest in any tech enterprises; he doesn’t create anything himself: he collects the creative ideas and businesses of others that he thinks are sure-fire wins.

Personal branding is an excellent way to discover your drive and determine your strengths. It can help you think about what business idea is the one that will make you an entrepreneur.

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