There are many characteristics that make a great entrepreneur. Here are some of the ones I think are most critical. As you read the next pages, think about how these qualities apply to you:

Great entrepreneurs take action.

As author and management consultant Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” It’s great to have brilliant ideas but until you take action, those ideas have no impact. You may have to put some things in place before you can take massive action. But do you need to have all of your ducks in a row before you begin? Absolutely not. You can start small, but you have to start. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters, put it this way: “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Great entrepreneurs have perseverance.

I don’t know of many successful entrepreneurs who have achieved instant success that was sustainable. Remember pet rocks from the ‘70s? That “instant success” lasted about six months. Pet rock creator Gary Dahl became a millionaire but ended up saying, “Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn’t have been simpler if I hadn’t done it.” Some might define that as “success” but it’s certainly not the kind that leads to a flourishing life!

Great entrepreneurs know that worthwhile ideas and sustainable success take time to develop. They also recognize that the road will not always be smooth. As Winston Churchill pointed out, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” People who are not cut out to be entrepreneurs fold their tents at the first sign of trouble.

Great entrepreneurs are willing to take risks.

Conventional wisdom used to say, “Starting your own business is very risky. To stay safe and secure, get a good job with a large corporation – or better yet, get a job with the government!” That conventional wisdom was turned on its ear during the economic crisis of the last several years. Most people are starting to recognize that “safe and secure” just doesn’t exist through conventional career paths anymore. Many people have had to (very reluctantly) step out of their comfort zones simply to survive.

In contrast, great entrepreneurs actually enjoy a certain level of risk. They know that going for the gold is a long shot. But going for lead doesn’t interest or inspire them. Victor Kiam, best known for his “I liked it so much, I bought the company” ads for Remington electric shavers, said, “Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise. They willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.” An important note: Great entrepreneurs don’t take risks just for the thrill of jumping off cliffs. Great entrepreneurs take intelligent risks that have real potential to enhance their business or service.

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