11 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs I Learned From Interviewing Hundreds of Founders
Each week on my TV Show Think Engage Thrive, airing on E360tv, I interview successful entrepreneurs who have built established businesses. They have come from all types of industries, and they have all succeeded. Here are the 11 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that I have learned.
The world of entrepreneurship is a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape where only a select few manage to rise to the top. Successful entrepreneurs are not born overnight; instead, they possess a unique blend of personality traits, skills, and experiences that enable them to navigate the challenges of the business world.
In this article, I will share with you the personality characteristics that define successful entrepreneurs and draw inspiration from the experiences and insights of renowned entrepreneurs, as shared on Phil Masiello’s show, “Think Engage Thrive.”
Phil Masiello, the host of “Think Engage Thrive,” has had the privilege of interviewing numerous entrepreneurs on his show, gaining valuable insights into the qualities that have propelled them to success. As we explore these personality traits, we will reference some remarkable individuals who have shared their stories on the show.
One of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is a keen sense of visionary thinking. They can see opportunities where others might only see challenges. Visionaries can dream big and set audacious goals. They are driven by a desire to create something new or to disrupt existing industries.
One notable example is Brian Carlson, the visionary founder of Storytime.AI. Brian took his background in educational technology and the emerging trend of AI to build an app that generates stories on the fly, in real-time, using artificial intelligence. Kids can pick from a set of genres, select a hero, villain, and location, or enter their own. Storytime.AI will generate a story that can be listened to or read at their own pace. In a “Think Engage Thrive” interview, he emphasized the importance of having a bold vision and unwavering determination to achieve it.
Entrepreneurship is often a journey filled with setbacks, failures, and obstacles. Another of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is they exhibit remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. They view failures as learning opportunities and refuse to give up when the going gets tough.
Matt Williamson, who co-founded Windsor Circle and is building his next great startup, Plum Co-Ownership, spoke about resilience on “Think Engage Thrive. ” He discussed some early setbacks in getting Windsor Circle off the ground. But his perseverance fueled his determination to succeed. Matt’s tenacity and ability to bounce back from setbacks have made him an inspirational figure in the startup world.
High Tolerance For Risk-Taking
Entrepreneurship inherently involves taking risks, and successful entrepreneurs are unafraid to embrace them. They are willing to step out of their comfort zones and make calculated gambles to achieve their goals. Risk-taking is often a key driver of innovation and growth.
Joe and Judy Roetheli have worked side-by-side in their entrepreneurial business for over a quarter of a century. They have coined the phrase “Couple-Preneurs.” Despite having no real business experience, they achieved two major entrepreneurial successes: GREENIES®, which became America’s number one dog treat, and Spyder®, and are now creating their next success story, Pets Best Life/Yummy Combs®.
Joe and Judy took a significant risk in launching Greenies when they did. They were in their 50s and went without a salary for three years while they focused on growing their company. It paid off in the end, but the risk for them was tremendous.
Adaptability and Flexibility
In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability and flexibility are crucial characteristics for successful entrepreneurs. Successful individuals are open to change and quickly adjust their strategies in response to shifting market dynamics or unexpected challenges.
Arnold Cohen is the definition of adaptability and flexibility. He has gone from being a leader of Gucci, J Crew, and London Fog to the Co-founder of Vitals.com, a physician database platform, to an educator and everything in between.
Arnie has spent 40+ years deeply immersed in the fashion, retail, and direct consumer industries. He has held a variety of Senior Executive and or consultative positions incubating, leading, recalibrating, and fixing brands and distribution/commerce platforms domestically and abroad. He has also been successful in developing and executing funding strategies for growth. Arnold is a serial entrepreneur focused on brands, opportunities, marketplace needs, and the ability to create unique and compelling business propositions.
Passion and Persistence
Passion and persistence go hand in hand in the world of entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurs are deeply passionate about their ventures, which fuels their tenacity in the face of obstacles. They are driven by a strong sense of purpose and a genuine love for what they do.
Scott Ketchum, the co-founder of Sfoglini pasta, has a passion for his brand and the persistence to keep going despite obstacles. Scott told our listeners about when the company began to scale and built a new facility in upstate NY. He and his co-founder, Steve Gonzalez, moved their entire operation, including staff, up to the new facility. The problem was that the facility was much larger than they needed for their current business and was built to handle the anticipated business coming in the next 12 months. There was only so much capital available for them, so they had to dramatically scale back to the point where Scott and Steve worked in the entire facility alone until they received the POs to begin building again. They never gave up their passion for their brand.
Strong Work Ethic
Entrepreneurship demands hard work and dedication, and one of the most common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is an exceptional work ethic. They are willing to put in long hours, make sacrifices, and do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. This level of commitment is often contagious and inspires their teams to follow suit.
Joel Gandara founded Morro Capital, which owns and operates 14 apparel e-commerce brands. Joel was a Cuban immigrant who arrived in the US as a child. He started working at age 10, buying various goods like candy bars and sports cards and selling them to his classmates. In his teens, he moved on to buying products and selling them at flea markets. Sometimes working 100 hours a week, Joel made enough money to start his first brand in men’s apparel and went from zero to $1 million in first-year revenue. After over 20 years of building his e-commerce businesses, he exited. But rather than resting on his laurels, Joel works with men using his 31 days to be a better man coaching process. Joel is a person with a solid work ethic.
Effective Communication Skills
Communication is a vital skill for entrepreneurs, enabling them to convey their vision, build relationships, and inspire others. Successful entrepreneurs are adept at verbal and written communication and can articulate their ideas clearly and persuasively.
On “Think Engage Thrive,” renowned entrepreneur Jordan West is a great communicator. He has to be. Jordan told the audience that he knows his strengths and weaknesses so well. When he hires people for his company, he lets everyone know what they can expect from him and what he expects from them. Jordan is not good with the details and the execution in business. He is good at other equally important tasks like customer acquisition and vision. Therefore, he hires to support his weaknesses. To be successful in this way, he has to be a great communicator.
Strong Networking Abilities
Entrepreneurs often rely on a network of contacts and mentors to navigate business challenges. Successful entrepreneurs excel at building and maintaining valuable relationships within their industry. They understand the power of networking in opening doors and creating opportunities.
Phil Dimuro and his partner Dave Phelan take networking to a new level. Phil and Dave founded a company called Loople several years ago. They were involved in a startup incubator and took advantage of getting counsel from everyone they could. When that business was not going as planned, they transitioned it into an app and website development company. Along the way, the two entrepreneurs got involved with startup and entrepreneur groups in several states. This led to their primary source of new clients. Whenever I meet new young entrepreneurs, they have met Phil or Dave somewhere along the way.
Entrepreneurs must have a solid understanding of financial matters to make informed business decisions. Successful entrepreneurs are financially savvy and can manage budgets, assess risks, and invest wisely.
In a “Think Engage Thrive” interview, Manny Balani, the founder of Gotham Cigars and A1 Supplements, explained his growth strategy of acquiring e-commerce brands and continuing to expand his business. Manny has set up the systems in his business so he can see all of the critical KPIs at any given time. As those of us operating in the e-commerce ecosystem understand, managing the right KPIs will drive success. Manny has been doing this so well, enabling him to grow organically without needing outside capital.
Knowing When to Pivot
Innovation is at the heart of entrepreneurship. One of the critical characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is to constantly seek new ways to solve problems, create value, and disrupt industries. They must be more content with the status quo and look for innovative opportunities.
Enter Will Gee, the co-founder of BaltiVirtual. Will and his partner began working for one of the largest video game studios. They decided to leave and pursue their video game idea. While working on this game idea, they began collaborating on projects to develop virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to support themselves. Once they realized they were not getting the support they needed to get their game idea off the ground, they decided to focus their efforts on AR/VR development. This led to the founding of BaltiVirtual, one of the largest developers in the space, with clients from the MLB, NFL, Under Armour, and many other major consumer product companies.
Bonus – Overcoming Fear of Failure
As an entrepreneur, stepping into the unknown and building a startup can be daunting. The fear of failure often looms large, casting a shadow over your dreams. But remember, every successful entrepreneur, including myself, Phil Masiello, has faced this fear head-on. Through these challenging moments, we grow, learn, and ultimately succeed.
I’ve been there, turning an idea into a thriving business, and let me assure you – it’s not only possible but also exhilarating. I’ve seen startups rise from humble beginnings to industry leaders, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that overcoming fear is the first step towards unparalleled success.
Embrace the fear, use it to fuel your passion, and let it drive you towards achieving your entrepreneurial dreams. Remember, you are not going to die. The worst-case scenario is your idea fails. You will learn from the failure and either start over or return to corporate work. Either way, you will end up on your feet.
The journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It requires a unique combination of personality traits, skills, and experiences. As my show, “Think Engage Thrive,” has revealed through its interviews with prominent entrepreneurs, visionary thinking, resilience, risk-taking, adaptability, passion, persistence, a strong work ethic, practical communication skills, strong networking abilities, financial acumen, and innovative thinking are some of the key characteristics that define successful entrepreneurs.
While not every entrepreneur may possess all of these traits in equal measure, recognizing and developing these qualities can significantly enhance one’s chances of success in the competitive world of entrepreneurship. Drawing inspiration from the stories and insights of these accomplished entrepreneurs can help you succeed and overcome adversity.