Do entrepreneurs share key personality traits?

Alice Weil

Alice Weil

Features Editor at The Executive Magazine

Francesca James, co-founder of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, explores the most important traits that all successful entrepreneurs have in common – whatever their actual background.

Whatever your opinions on what makes a good entrepreneur, perhaps the most exciting commonality concerns just how much doesn’t matter when you’re starting out. As such, it’s a very inclusive occupation.

Where you grew up, how well you did in school, how much money was in your pocket in the early days – each businessperson has their own unique story. Instead, success depends more on simply how much you want to achieve a dream.

If the start of the journey is almost impossible to define, there are certain behaviours and virtues that come to the fore among enterprising individuals, and they’re not necessarily all good. Warts and all, we take a closer look at some of these traits below.

Strong leadership

Whether through nature or nurture, entrepreneurs tend to share an ability to bring people together and collaborate to achieve an objective. Communication skills are a core element to this – the ability to articulate a message with a clarity and a charisma that inspires others.

Embrace failure

Entrepreneurs possess risk tolerance. Whether it’s biting off more than they can chew, or taking a punt against all odds, entrepreneurs like to live on the edge. This might be unnerving and illogical to those who play it safe, but the best businesspeople are always aware that even if they don’t succeed, the potential to learn is huge.

As such, successful entrepreneurs are able to adapt and roll with the punches, always confident that they will find a way through, whatever gets thrown at them.

Ideas people

In their relentless drive for success, entrepreneurs can perceive opportunities in the unlikeliest of places, which means they come up with ideas at an astonishing rate.

While this can look random, or even a little crazy in the early stages of business growth, the flow of ideas means that once things get going, an energy of innovation maintains business momentum – there’s always something else to try.


No-one ever became a success by sitting back and waiting for good things to happen. Entrepreneurs exude this reality through their drive and determination to get jobs done, no matter how big or small.

It’s therefore unsurprising that in a Gallop survey of 4,000 entrepreneurs, 65% of respondents cited ‘determination’ as the strongest defining characteristic. It’s the reason why entrepreneurs can be a touch demanding at times, but it’s a contagious energy that gets the best out of individuals in their network.

Another plus point of this intensity is that entrepreneurs learn by doing at an alarming rate, and this gives them the propensity to become very educated in their chosen field in a short space of time. This knowledge can rapidly percolate through the larger team.

Understanding the value of people

Business leaders could be accused of being headstrong, perhaps even a little arrogant. But this self-belief is usually counterbalanced by an underlying awareness that they do not, in fact, know it all.

Consequently, entrepreneurs make themselves stronger by surrounding themselves by a good team comprising specialists that can be trusted to get a job done to the highest standards. Whether it’s an IT expert, a wordsmith or social media guru, or a partner who can open doors in high places, entrepreneurs connect with the talent that enables them to rise to the top.


The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards acknowledges the hard work and inspiring stories behind British entrepreneurs and businesses in the country. To find out more about the 2018 awards, visit

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