Following on from The Suitcase Entrepreneur Blogging Challenge, the next topic that was to be discussed was to write about How to build a blog that matters and monetize it. In particular, to discuss two key ways you could use the habits of a millionaire to monetize your blog in the next month. I decided to mix this topic instead and write about Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs that you can learn from.

As a small business owner in the beginning phases, learning from those who have walked down the path is time well spent. Time that I consider as capturing the “dos and don’ts” and mimicking what works and avoiding what doesn’t when you come to that tricky decision. For those who are seasoned business people, this list can help identify areas that may help refocus or redirect some resources to help your business push through that next project.

From what I have observed so far, the common characteristics I see in successful entrepreneurs are the following.

1. Visionary – this is defined as “a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like”. Using well known entrepreneurs, great examples here include the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson to name a few. All these entrepreneurs had an idea about what the possibilities could be for the future. Steve Jobs for the iPhone and Macs for Apple, Mark Zuckerberg for the most popular social media platform online at the moment with Facebook and Richard Branson for the various business ideas he has but the particular one I wanted to mention was Virgin Galactic where you can travel into space.

For you the small business owner, you may be imagining an idea about how to offer a service that is commonly used but differentiating it by adding your own twist to it. For example, there are many restaurants that offer a fantastic cup of coffee but not all will offer that same “twist” as you envision to offer. This is what I believe is being Visionary.

2. Disciplined– having an idea to implement is not an easy line from A to B. This may involve going through various circles of actions, ups and downs and hiccups before you get to your final product. Successful entrepreneurs tend to have discipline as one of their common attributes. They are disciplined enough in maintaining their ground on the way to their goals.  This discipline involves either having to maintain a routine for their daily tasks or discipline to maintain their focus to stay on track. This helps avoid getting distracted with other interesting ideas or proposals being put forward in front of them.  The late motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built.”

Sanjay Mehta, a guerilla serial entrepreneur also wrote a great article on Creative discipline here if you’d like to read more on this.

3. Focussed – with discipline in mind, the ability to stay focussed is an essential characteristic as to how successful entrepreneurs become who they are. They envisioned something and they stay focussed on the path to lead them there.  One of my favourite entrepreneurs who has led the business podcasting area by storm loves this term “focus” and has a special description for it. John Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire is an inspiring online entrepreneur who delivers business podcasts daily of valuable content and exhibits the characteristics I have listed here. To deliver podcasts daily requires discipline and focus.

John’s description of F.O.C.U.S is “Follow One Course Until Success”

This focus leads on nicely to their next characteristic.

4. Determined – having determination is an attribute that helps you take action. Successful entrepreneurs have bucket loads of determination that help them see through the tough challenges and the downward spirals on their path to achieving their goals. It is this determination coupled with the other characteristics listed here that makes the journey more bearable. To pursue through challenging times and when the nay sayers are opposing your journey, having this characteristic is an important part of the overall package of a successful entrepreneur.

John’s description of F.O.C.U.S is “Follow One Course Until Success” ~ John Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire

5. Courageous (or Fearless) – With determination to move forward, successful entrepreneurs have become used to facing their fears. Becoming a business owner in itself presents many situations that put you outside of your comfort zone. The successful business owner or entrepreneur invoke their inner business warrior armed with courage and belief to face the monstrosity of Fear Land in order to reach their final destination.

6. Action-taker  – There are many great ideas out there but the difference lies in whether those ideas were actioned or not. As the old saying goes, it is better to try and fail rather than fail to try. Successful entrepreneurs take action. If the first time was a failure, they try again and learn from the previous failures. Many well known successful entrepreneurs failed at some point in their business lives. Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Bill Gates and Donald Trump to name a few have all failed at some point. If you are a budding entrepreneur with an idea that is cooking up in your mind, the best time to take action is now. There is nothing worse than not doing something about putting your ideas to action. If you are thinking, “What if it fails?”. Then, at least you have invested in your learning so that the next time you try again, you are closer to success.

7. Good Listener – most successful entrepreneurs develop the skill of being a good listener. With the right team and people around them, they listen to what is going on in their environment and take action. Listening to their staff, consultants and customers are part of opening up their world for improvement and adjustments to deliver a better product and service.

8. Customer-centric – For any business to survive, one must always consider the needs and wants of their customer base. Successful entrepreneurs listen and take action to solve their customers’ problems. Sometimes as a business owner, it is tempting to think that we know what our customers want. If you’re wondering why your product or service is not selling as you had hoped, perhaps ask your ideal customer first what problems they have and reassess your advertising channels.

9. Problem-solver – This characteristic links to the successful entrepreneurs solving a problem that their customers have as explained in Characteristic 8 [Customer-centric]. Successful entrepreneurs look for gaps in a service or product area that can make things a bit better for their customers.

10. Creative – In order to solve a problem, thinking creatively about possible solutions is something that helps differentiate the solution an entrepreneur proposes to the market. A great example of an entrepreneur who solved a problem for himself and others through creative thinking is Kyle Macdonald from Canada. Kyle wanted to buy his own house and he started to think creatively about how to solve his problem. He started a listing on Craigslist using a red paperclip and 14 exchanges later, his dream for a house became a reality. A red paperclip costs almost nothing but it is what Kyle did with the paperclip that made the difference in its value. You can view the 20/20 clip of his interview here.

11. Open-minded – Being a good listener, problem solver and a creative thinker also allows this characteristic of open mindedness something that successful entrepreneurs possess. With an open mind, they welcome new ideas and new scenarios to help improve their current systems, services or products and adapt to change.

12. Networker – Successful Entrepreneurs are networkers. They engage and network with other professionals to get the word out about their services and products. This is something I am personally working on as a self confessed offline introvert.

The above 12 characteristics are ones that I found were common amongst successful entrepreneurs I have observed. How do you measure up against these characteristics? Please leave a comment and tell me all about it.

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There is nothing worse than not doing something about putting your ideas to action. If you are thinking, “What if it fails?”. Then, at least you have invested in your learning so that the next time you try again, you are closer to success.

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