Studies indicate that entrepreneurs are born, not made. As a serial entrepreneur myself, having worked with dozens of successful entrepreneurs, I can confirm that this is a truism. No two are exactly alike, but they are different from those who fail, or worse, never try.

I am often asked what makes an entrepreneur. In answering, I use the quote made by Supreme Court Justice Harlan when asked how he defined pornography. “I know it when I see it”. Entrepreneurs have a demeanor that separates them from the herd. They are different. Ready to take risks, fearless, passionate, problem solvers, positive and focused: entrepreneurs are the power that runs the engine of any capitalist economy.

I have assembled 10 traits that all successful entrepreneurs seem to acquire during their life’s experience. Some are stronger in one area or another, but the basics are covered here and represent qualities and beliefs that are remarkably consistent in successful entrepreneurs.

10 Essential Traits for the Successful Entrepreneur

#1 Passion in Their Project Opportunity
Passion overcomes many deficiencies in experience and/or education.
True passion cannot be faked, and is contagious!

#2 Courage in the Face of Doubt
Every entrepreneur experiences bouts of worry and self-doubt. The
ability to overcome, push ahead and achieve your goals requires courage.

#3 The Ability to Handle Rejection
Success as an entrepreneur requires a thick skin. You will receive
Criticism, and hear the word NO much more often than YES.

#4 The Ability to Remain Open to Change
Hardened attitudes and dispositions will cut off the ability to innovate,
improve and add creativity to an invention or new idea.

#5 The Glass is always Much More Than Half Full
Successful entrepreneurs know they have obstacles to overcome.
They just get on with it. Negatives are like gnats, to be flicked away.

#6 Small Ideas Become Big Ideas
Coca-Cola was not created with a goal of being a mass-market beverage.
A pharmacist created the formula for his soda fountain as a tonic.

#7 Only You Can Shape Your Life
You control all aspects of your life. When you look in the mirror do you
see a man or a mouse? The answer is a reflection totally of you.

#8 Regret Only What You Have not Done
To die and have wishes or nightmares about lost opportunities, or
never having gotten into the game, is some kind of sin. What a waste!

#9 Get Rich Slow
Dreamers want to get rich quick and rarely do. Hard work, enterprise,
innovation, and focus makes the hare the winner over the flashier rabbit.

#10 Listen to Learn
While you are talking you can’t be learning. Ask questions, probe,
inquire! Listening is crucial to overcoming objections and success.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.