Successful Entrepreneur Characteristics


In prior posts I have outlined the weakness of the Northwest Florida entrepreneur ecosystem.  Although the ecosystem has failed to coalesce, there have been successful entrepreneurs in the region.  I asked the question of them “How did you succeed in Northwest Florida’s business environment?”.  I found almost unanimous characteristics inherent in successful entrepreneurs:

  1. Just went out and did it! Without question this is the most significant trait.  Successful people do not wait to have other people do their work for them, they just do it whether they have been trained to or not.  In the face of failure, they bounce back and try again until they succeed.  This number one factor of success leads to the first and then subsequent sales.  This trait cannot be taught.
  2. Had some prior experience in their field. Most had previously worked in their field before they set out on their own.  Therefore, they had knowledge of the market, potential buyers, and most importantly the need that their solution solved.
  3. Had some money to start with. All had some of their own money to startup with whether it was $1,000 or $100,000.  This money was at risk and kept the successful entrepreneurs focused on making wise choices.
  4. Self-funded startup to growth stage. With one exception all grew their businesses from concept through startup to growth without outside funding.  They self-funded by relying on growing the business revenues and leveraging them.  Some never even took out debt.  Once again it was their money at risk and that kept the successful entrepreneurs focused on making wise choices.
  5. No formal entrepreneurship training. Surprisingly, not one had taken any formal entrepreneurship training.  I think this was a good thing – see my blog “Entrepreneurship Training is Failing”.  Entrepreneurship training focusses on problems and an expectation that people are there to help the entrepreneur along the way and no risk money is available.  Without this training, the successful entrepreneurs didn’t know they couldn’t succeed so, they just did it.  The successful entrepreneurs typically learned the basics of business as they went along and needed to know.
  6. Virtually no support from the Northwest Florida’s startup ecosystem. When asked, the successful entrepreneurs were unanimous that the local ecosystem provided little or no useful support to them and was often referred to as an obstacle.  Some services such as low-cost offices were used but little else.  Some sectors of the ecosystem were also considered not knowing how to do their job.
  7. Support of a credible local person(s) that believed in entrepreneur that helped clear obstacles, navigate in the business community, and open doors (not provide money) was also the norm. After the doors were opened, then trait number 1 took over in the successful entrepreneurs as they took advantage of the opportunities presented.  This local person is not a mentor but more of a friend, a fan, an associate, or godfather that does not necessarily benefit from your success but knows his/her way around the community.  This is why people succeed despite a dysfunctional Northwest Florida entrepreneur ecosystem.  This last characteristic rounds out success so much so that if an entrepreneur has both trait 1 and trait 7 success is almost guaranteed.

This blog is based on original research by the author.

The author can be contacted through his web site or through his blog