What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Is the ability innate; are you born with entrepreneurial abilities? Or, are these tendencies the result of nurture?

While there is no definitive answer as to what makes a successful entrepreneur, there are certain characteristics that crop up over and over again in the most influential of people.

Individuals such as Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerburg, Jason Lemkin, Aaron Levie, Stuart Hearn, Sara Blakely and Arianna Huffington all share similar traits.

But what are these characteristics? And how can we strive to better ourselves so that we aren’t just ordinary business people but successful entrepreneurs?

1. Humility and self-awareness

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, believes that successful entrepreneurs show humility. They value the opinion of others.

Branson states that “people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone”, that “they bring [their] idea to market through sheer force of personality.”

Reflecting on his breadth of experiences, he points out that, “almost no one ever achieved anything worthwhile without help.”

He says that “to be successful in business, you need to connect, collaborate and delegate.”

Branson clearly points out that you can’t rely on your wit and hard effort alone to succeed as an entrepreneur.

You need to be self-aware and realize there will always be someone smarter or more experienced than you in a particular line of business.

You need to hire these people; the people whose strengths are your weaknesses.

The CEO of Spanx, Sara Blakely, agrees, stating that, “smartest thing I ever did in the early days was to hire my weaknesses.”

Entrepreneurs need to hire people to not only help them with the critical decisions in the foreground of a business but the operational activities in the background.

But why do startups need help with these operational tasks?

Take, an external call service, as an example. If they were to take and forward customer calls, the in-house staff of a startup would have more time to focus on any critical business issues.

Clearly, then, having external services to take care of a company’s operational activities allows in-house staff to focus more on core business problems.


characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: humility

2. Customer orientated

Reduced in-house responsibility is just one benefit that inbound call services (ICS) can bring.

External call services can also help businesses build strong relationships with their customers.

With virtual receptionists operating 24/7, an ICS prevents customers from facing monotonous answering messages and long waits.

But, why is it so important that startups build customer relationships over anything else?

Two-time entrepreneur, Jason Lemkin, points out that “customer success is where 90% of the revenue is” in a startup.

Clearly, it’s crucial.

Superb customer service is known to lead to greater customer retention; priceless advertising (word of mouth); a reduction in a company’s overall problems and a strengthened brand and public image.

Undoubtedly, it’s clear that entrepreneurs need to stay ‘customer orientated’ to keep their startups afloat.

They need to analyze the quality of the customer service they are providing and they need to take steps to improve it where possible.


characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: customer orientated

3. Cost efficient

Venture capital database, CB Insights, recently carried out a study which looked into the postmortems of startup companies. One of the outcomes of this study was a report listing the ‘Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail’. Shockingly, the report revealed that “29 percent of startups fail due to running out of cash.”

Why? For starters, office space can be a huge drain on startup resources.

Jennifer Parris, a career writer at Flexjobs, highlights how much money ditching your office and hiring remote workers can save you. She states that “remote workers can save their companies $11,000 annually in overhead costs.”

Evidently, Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, found his business thriving 8 years ago when he ditched the office-based working culture in favor of a remote team.

Freelance writer and business consultant, Larry Alton, further highlights the benefits of ditching the office space. He suggests that entrepreneurs can get a lot more for their money when they invest it elsewhere.

He says, “you can operate just as efficiently without this startup cost [office space]” by, taking “that money and investing it in something more worthwhile, like sourcing better talent or building up your infrastructure.”

Therefore, it’s clear, that some of the most successful entrepreneurs and startups cut office space costs by working ‘anywhere’.

To work anywhere, startups can use a variety of online services that will help them along the way.

Read about how entrepreneurs have made ‘anywhere’ work


characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: cost efficient

4. Highly adaptable and future orientated

Successful entrepreneurs are also people who are highly adaptable.

Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud company, Box, agrees, highlighting that if a business doesn’t adapt, it will struggle to grow. He says that “products evolve based on assumptions that eventually become outdated. This is every incumbent’s weakness and startup opportunity.”

In this day and age, organizations need to adapt their work culture to meet the flexible needs of millennials (the current and future workforce).

Stuart Hearn, CEO of Clear Review, a performance management software, highlights that flexible working practices are needed by millennials. He believes that, “by the year 2020, almost 50 percent of the workforce will comprise of millennials” and that “to get the best out of this generation, a degree of flexibility is required.”

Recently, Flexjobs undertook a survey to uncover why organizations may need to adopt flexible working practices.

It found that “40 percent of millennials are ‘working parents’” and so want more flexible working options.

The survey also highlighted that “70 percent of millennials say the desire to travel is the primary reason to work.”

Interestingly, it also pointed out that “no millennial cited the office…as their location of choice for optimum productivity.”

Clearly, entrepreneurs need to adapt and adopt flexi-working practices. To do this, they need to consider incorporating online collaborative systems into their business (inbound call services, time tracking software, team collaboration software etc.).


characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: adaptable

5. Risk-taker and not afraid of failure

In an interview with Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg said, “the biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing so quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”

Thus, to succeed in a startup world, entrepreneurs need to be bold and take risks.

Co-founder of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington says, entrepreneurs need to use “failure [as a] stepping stone to success.”  They need to thrive in the face of failure.

So, be bold; consider investing in an inbound call service (ICS) that will support the flexi-way of life.

Evidently, an ICS, like AnswerConnect, can lead to greater customer happiness; reduced startup costs; less overall problems in the business and a greater employee retention rate.

So, take the plunge and consider AnswerConnect.

What have you got to lose?

Or win?


characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: risk- taker

Click here to find out more about the AnswerConnect call service

Find out more about tools for remote working by clicking here

Quick takeaways.

  • Be self-aware and realize there will always be someone smarter or more experienced than you.
  • Analyze the quality of your customer service and take steps to improve it.
  • Be cost-effective. Remote workers can save their companies $11,000 annually in overhead costs.
  • Adapt and adopt flexi-working practices.