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For the last six years, much of my day-to-day work has focused on helping entrepreneurs get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper so they can turn those ideas into their dream businesses. I’ve learned quite a few things about the personality traits that we must possess to make a living from something that starts with a single thought.

Entrepreneurs are not like other people. We are a special breed. We are dedicated to our ideas and obsessed with bringing them to fruition. Setbacks and failures can be perceived as hard blows to us because the course we’ve chosen is so personal. These aren’t someone else’s ideas we are trying to make happen; these are our best ideas and strategies. When they don’t work, we have to quickly overcome our disappointment and find ways to put a positive spin on what we just learned. We constantly think and talk about how to improve our product or make our operations just a little bit better, which can make us impossible company for our partners and friends.

We entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in USA’s economy. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 United States Report from Babson College, 13% of American adults are engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Of them, 34% have introduced new and innovative products and services to the marketplace. Nearly one third of entrepreneurs outsource business activities, which helps other small business grow. Plus, it is expected that 37% of entrepreneurial business will have five of more employees within the next five years.

What I find even more striking than these statistics, though, are two important contributions entrepreneurs make to our society:

  1. We are narrowing the gender gap in leadership roles. For every 10 men who start their own businesses, seven women are doing the same. We’re evading the glass ceiling by designing our own buildings.
  2. Seventy-five percent of entrepreneurs start their businesses to pursue their ideas as opposed to financial necessity. That tells me we have more opportunities to be happier because we’ve chosen our careers based on what we like to do. It’s so much better than working for someone else’s goals.

Are you dreaming of the life you’ll have when you finally find the time and gumption to become an entrepreneur? First, you need to consider if you have what it takes to make your great idea into a viable business. Here are the Top 10 Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur:

  1. Passion and drive to turn ideas into success stories. It’s not uncommon to have several business ideas at once and not know which one to implement first.
  2. A “big picture” view. Entrepreneurs want to change the world, or at the very least make an ordinary thing so much better. We clearly see how our product or service influences how people buy/interact/live/play and these positive changes are the fuel we drive on.
  3. Ability to take hard hits. The road to success is littered with small, medium, and large failures (some of which can be very costly). We know that ‘No’ buttons get us closer to ‘Yes’ buttons and although it’s often hard to do, we shake off failures and emerge stronger.
  4. Refusal to quit. If it’s not this, then we find something different. Entrepreneurs keep tweaking, looking, adjusting, and fine-tuning. There must be a way to bring an idea this good to market—and we will make it happen.
  5. Good dose of narcissism. We carry the belief that we are the only right person to do this and our idea is simply better than those of our competition.
  6. Desire to work hard. Contrary to what most people think, entrepreneurship is hard work and long hours. Even the best ideas need a solid business structure, a logical implementation, and constant tweaking.
  7. Courage to take risks. It takes money to fund an idea, often from our own savings and from generous family and friends. There is no risk-free start-up or business. Entrepreneurs have the courage to overcome their fears on a daily basis.
  8. Ability to think of the business as its own entity. All business owners I know feel about their businesses as if they are children. Our businesses need love, constant affirmation, and attention.
  9. Willingness to learn. Nobody can know everything. Successful entrepreneurs go to conferences, take classes, and read books about business and self-improvement. They continuously want to know more and learn how to run their businesses better.
  10. Contagious optimism. As entrepreneurs, we focus on ‘how we can make it work’ instead of ‘can we make this work?’ We see the payoff of our ideas and we make our businesses our priority.

The business world is buzzing and I have met many innovative business owners who are brimming with great ideas. As access to money continues to become easier, there will continue to be more and more people who embody these characteristics starting new businesses and designing their lives around their personal goals. Is your great idea going to be one of these success stories?

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