Five Key Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

EntrepreneurI briefly followed a Twitter conversation yesterday afternoon that attempted to define what a real entrepreneur is. It stemmed from one individual’s frustration that some small company employees considered themselves entrepreneurs, even though they did not own or start the company.

I wonder if it matters. Furthermore, I love the idea of employees – at big companies and small – thinking of themselves like entrepreneurs.

Forget about the technical requirements of an entrepreneur for a minute. What constitutes a set of entrepreneurial attributes that employees could emulate?

1. Customer-Centric Thinking

  • Successful entrepreneurs are obsessed with their customers – what they want, how they want it, and their reaction/feedback to everything big and small. Successful entrepreneurs talk to customers every day to get feedback, build relationships, and help the customers themselves help evolve and grow the business.

2. No Unnecessary Spending

  • Entrepreneurial employees treat every dime as if it were their own. Do we really need those extra printouts for the trade show? Is that marketing channel really working? Is it generating not just leads but sales?

3. Creative Problem-Solving

  • For entrepreneurs, there is no box, and nothing is off the table. Entrepreneurs are attempting to do something no one has done before, which requires a new way of thinking and doing. It also requires bucking the norm, the creative “control”, and often going against what is known and understood. That takes guts and discipline to do day in and day out.

4. Tolerance (or Immunity) To Fear

  • Fear, as I’ve said before, gets in the way of growth and innovation. Successful entrepreneurs know little to no fear, and certainly don’t allow any element of fear to cloud their judgment, creativity or courage to achieve what they know is right.

5. Acceptance of Constructive Failure

  • Smart people actually fail a LOT, in part because they try a lot of things that aren’t yet proven. Not only do they try and fail often, they learn from that failure and get better – and never let that failure keep them from focusing on the ultimate goal.

If I had a company full of people who acted like this, they can call themselves entrepreneurs all day long.

Matt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at or visit

Matt Heinz




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No Comments

  1. Corey Chapman on August 31, 2010 at 2:18 am

    the best way to become a millionaire is to become an entrepreneur”.~

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