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University of Sunderland

Entrepreneurial qualities: what are they and how can you develop them

Posted on: May 10, 2023
entrepreneur concept with business elements drawn on blackboard

Successful entrepreneurs are more than just business owners: they drive businesses forward with big ideas and bold actions. The largest and most well-known companies in the world today were founded by people with entrepreneurial spirit, and the future success of the national and global economy is largely dependent on a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators developing new ideas – and making them a reality.

But what makes someone an entrepreneur? Having innovative ideas, perhaps for a new product or service, is a good place to start, but on its own it isn’t enough. Starting or running a business is another common thread that binds the best entrepreneurs, but not all business owners are entrepreneurial. So what is it that transforms a person into an entrepreneur?

To answer that question, one must consider the entrepreneurial skills, characteristics, and personality traits that entrepreneurs tend to possess. These qualities are often innate, but can also be learned and honed through personal and professional self-development and practice.

The most common qualities of an entrepreneur


Entrepreneurs are creative, whether they’re coming up with imaginative new solutions for common problems, or creating new opportunities for growth, revenue, or innovation.

How entrepreneurs develop their creativity


  • collaborate with other creative people, and pay attention to their methods and behaviours.
  • broaden their horizons, opening themselves up to new experiences and trying new things.
  • make time and space for creativity.


Being a good entrepreneur and running a successful business requires hard work. This is why entrepreneurs are typically self-starters with a strong work ethic. They’re not afraid to seek out challenges, set high expectations of themselves, and aim for success at all times. Crucially, they then put in the work to get the job done. 

Tips for developing self-discipline


  • prioritise, identifying tasks that are important and urgent and working on those before getting distracted by other things.
  • get organised, scheduling their days and creating lists ensure peak productivity.
  • identify their strengths and weaknesses, and play to their strengths while also working to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to address their weaknesses. 

A growth mindset

According to Forbes, developing a growth mindset is a critical skill for entrepreneurs:

“A growth mindset is a belief that your efforts and those of other people will lead to success in business,” Forbes states. “It does not matter if this path is an ‘uphill battle’ or a ‘downhill sprint’. A growth mindset encourages you to overcome obstacles and view setbacks as opportunities.”

Tips for developing a growth mindset


  • ask for feedback. They want to understand how they’re perceived, how they can improve, and what other people think.
  • learn constantly. Whether they’re reading for personal development, or taking a training course for professional development, entrepreneurs know that there is always more to learn, and continually develop new skills and knowledge.
  • reframe challenges. Entrepreneurs know that any problem or challenge is really just an opportunity to make an improvement.


Among the most unifying traits of successful entrepreneurs are perseverance, patience, and dedication. This is because the process of building a new business can be a long and challenging one, requiring determination, persistence, and resilience to see the job through despite roadblocks, red-tape, and even failures and mistakes.

How to build skills in perseverance


  • try new things when their old approaches stop working.
  • seek support when they need it.
  • set realistic goals and then work to achieve them through small, incremental steps.


Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, famously said: “To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.” 

Entrepreneurs and business leaders understand this, knowing that they need to be risk-takers in order to achieve their business goals. They possess the confidence to try new things and take big, brave action, unafraid to make mistakes – or learn from them – because they know that this risk-taking ability goes hand in hand with innovation and success.

How to develop and demonstrate courage


  • step outside their comfort zones, exploring unfamiliar ideas and trying challenging new things.
  • work with trusted mentors to identify fears, acknowledge them, and confront them.
  • call on research, data, and evidence. It’s easier to make a bold decision when it’s informed and backed by ample data.


Building one’s own business can throw up all kinds of unexpected obstacles, while the economic market and wider business environment are continually evolving and changing. This is why one of the key characteristics of an entrepreneur is adaptability. Entrepreneurs are flexible, changing course or adjusting their position as needed.

Tips for being more adaptable


  • keep an open mind. Instead of viewing change as something to be avoided, entrepreneurs consciously choose to identify the potentially positive aspects instead.
  • listen to other people. Entrepreneurs trust the expertise of the people they work with when confronted with a new challenge, and know when to rely on other people’s knowledge and skills to address the challenge, rather than trying to tackle it alone.
  • focus on problem-solving. When confronted with a problem, rather than worrying too much about the problem itself, entrepreneurs focus on finding answers and solving the problem.

Excellent communication skills

Whether they’re running a small business, startup, or a major corporation, great entrepreneurs can clearly articulate their business ideas – and their passion – with the people they lead or work with. They are often orators, able to motivate and inspire with their words, and can build brand loyalty and passion even externally through traditional or social media.

Tips for developing communication skills


  • practice two-way communication. Entrepreneurs know that communication is about more than talking – it’s about active listening, too. Communication is most effective when it feels like a conversation.
  • embrace new communication channels. As times change, so too do the ways people prefer to communicate. Entrepreneurs embrace these changes, and explore new avenues and channels to communicate with everyone from their stakeholders and staff, to their customers and clients.


One of the most important characteristics of a successful entrepreneur is leadership. It’s one of the more difficult characteristics to quantify, but boils down to being able to motivate and inspire employees to reach their full potential and help achieve success.

How to become a leader


  • lead by example. Entrepreneurs determine the culture within their organisations, and model the values and behaviours they expect to see from their people.
  • share their vision. Rather than working in isolation, entrepreneurs bring other people into their decision-making, sharing their ideas and vision for the future so that everyone can help work towards it together.
  • build relationships. From the staff and stakeholders within their organisations, to the customers and the media outside of it, entrepreneurs constantly network with other people and develop professional relationships that help build and secure their business, brand, and reputation.

Develop and shape entrepreneurial qualities

Examine enterprise and entrepreneurship with the University of Sunderland’s online MSc Management programme. You will develop the skills and knowledge required to successfully set up a business, as well as the skills to become an intrapreneur and drive innovation and change from within an organisation.

Entrepreneurial qualities have never been more important or more in demand within existing companies, and this flexible online masters programme will help you to develop these skills and make yourself a more valuable asset in the employment market. It has been developed for working professionals who want to advance their careers while continuing to work, so you can study around your current commitments and earn while you learn.

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