In 2001 I discovered I was a much better entrepreneur than I was a corporate ladder climber. As I turned in my 2-week notice at Motorola after 10 years in business, I was ecstatic to finally be my own boss. Over the next 18 months I was broke, frustrated, overwhelmed and doubting my ability to be successful on as a business owner.

Then, it hit me.

I was trying to build success the way I showed up as an employee. I had not developed a successful set of character traits to succeed on my own. So I began to study hundreds of extraordinary entrepreneurs from all walks of life in a “success modeling project” and discovered that there are 7 common character traits they share.

1. Clarity of Purpose.

Knowing what to direct our energy, focus and resources on is only possible when we are clear about our purpose. What are we here to accomplish? What has to be done right now? If you aren’t clear, then you will end up spinning around in your head and feel overwhelmed. When you have a clear sense of purpose, you can easily determine what to invest in, what to spend time on, and what tasks are the highest priorities in the moment.

2. Discipline to Say No.

Saying no to distractions and bright shiny objects creates more space for what’s important. Many of us have this false belief that saying no will limit what we can have. Or because we don’t really know what we do want, we say yes to everything hoping at some point the magic “a-ha” will reveal itself. Saying no means we can have more of what we really want – because we have made it a practice to keep out what isn’t serving us so there is room for having what we do want. Practice having the discipline to say more yes only to the things that feel 100% on track…and “maybe” to the rest. Create a system to evaluate and filter out what doesn’t make sense.

3. Confidence.

As entrepreneurs we are often faced with complicated decisions, unpleasant interactions and gut-wrenching choices. Having confidence helps us have the gumption to do the right thing – even when it’s hard. Confidence comes from feeling clear, energized, skillful, supported and aligned with the appropriate resources. If you find yourself holding back or fearful of taking action, you might need a confidence boost! One way to get a boost of confidence is to gather the facts – what is real vs. what you might be “making up” in your head. Consider making a list of the facts so your emotions don’t get the best of you.

4. Take Calculated Risks.

An entrepreneur can only grow by taking risks – often into unknown territory. But they aren’t blind risks…they are calculated based on priorities and known risks. Priorities are the things that you need the most right now – cash flow, team support, credibility, an urgent project, etc. A calculated risk is a decision you make to move towards a goal, even if you don’t know how it will work out, because at this point it aligns with the criteria you’ve established for success. If you follow entrepreneurs who have a track record of extraordinary success, you’ll notice they don’t always have clarity on how a decision will work out, but they make consistently good decisions. Learn how to build your own decision making formula for success!

5. Ruthless Leverage.

Entrepreneurs burn themselves out when their success depends solely on them. Leverage is a way of looking at your business growth opportunities to impact and succeed through systems, delegation, replication and automation. The degree to which we choose to use leverage is the degree to which we can grow. Extraordinary entrepreneurs typically have a big vision – bigger than anything they can pull off alone – so they will align with others who can implement their ideas quickly.

6. Congruency.

Deep inside of your subconscious mind, you have a congruency barometer – is this task, project, opportunity or business model good for me, the people I serve and the world around me? When your congruency barometer doesn’t perceive a fit, you will sabotage your progress. In order to make big leaps into unchartered waters, extraordinary entrepreneurs have to have a “fit” between the direction they are heading and what they value in life. These factors often include the time you have for family or how much work you think a project will take will take or whether you believe you can pull off the vision. Whatever it is, get congruent and you’ll notice a huge shift in your results.

7. Possibility Attitude.

Do you sort for why things won’t work…or why they will? Many people who are natural problem solvers tend to see all the reasons why something won’t work …

“I’ve tried it before”

“That’s too hard”

“How will I pay for it”

Extraordinary entrepreneurs recognize that all things are possible – it’s their attitude towards the goal that has to shift. When you believe you can accomplish anything you “sort” ideas and opportunities differently. Someone who has a limited filter typically rejects 99% of new ideas. Someone who sees everything as a possibility only rejects what isn’t in alignment. Which one are you?

Author's Bio: 

Melanie Benson Strick, known as The Big Idea Catalyst, helps entrepreneurs re-energize their business, focus on the right opportunities, and to expand their impact with proven sustainable growth strategies. Ready to super-charge your business? Get 25 Tips to Re-Energize Your Business in 7 Days or Less at