In the US, only about 30% of the total workforce consider themselves “self-employed.”  According to the SBA, Forbes and Gallop, that’s roughly 28 million businesses.  Of that 28 million, the vast majority of businesses are individual self-employed persons earning an average of $44,000/year.  Only about 6 million have 1 or more employees.  Raise the threshold to 5 employees, and you narrow the field to roughly 1 million businesses nationwide.

That’s a relatively small percentage of the population who are taking on the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship.  Perhaps that group includes you.  What motivates a person to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur?  And which traits may help an entrepreneur be successful?

1. You’re usually an optimist.

While you’re certain to hit challenges, you’re adept at turning them into opportunities.  You are capable of seeing the bright side.  You tend to believe you will be successful, so you don’t give up easily. Some days will test you, but stay positive and your hard work and commitment will pay off. It does pay to be a “glass-half-full” kind of person.

2. You’d make a good action figure.

You believe you’re special. You don’t wear a cape, but you can take on the bad guy (a problem) and be the hero (with a solution).  You’re not afraid to get a few bumps and bruises along the way either –  it’s worth it to make a difference.  You’re most likely to identify with a greater purpose and that keeps your hopes up, your values in view and your faith in action.

3. You’re willing to swim upstream.

You are more comfortable than most in marching to your own beat. You aren’t overly concerned with fitting in.  As a matter of fact, you’re ok with standing out.  You are willing to be uncomfortable to stretch your capacity, learn from mentors and reach for the next level.  While others resist change, you press against the status quo current.  You question. You challenge.  You go there.

4. You’re rather obsessively curious.

You can’t help it – you’re inquisitive and curious.  You asked why as a kid.  You still do. You may have a wider range of interests than others you know.  You like to explore possibilities.  You find knowledge and mentors in many places.  This curiosity feeds your fire.  Keep it and enjoy the journey.

5. You enjoy the company of heroes.

You appreciate greatness.  You value the time, perspective and insights of high-achievers.  Because you want to be challenged and grow, you are willing to join the company of heroes. The initial discomfort of letting go of ‘ordinary’ and ‘familiar’ will pay off in growth rewards.  Step up. Spend time in the circle of others who have achieved levels you aspire to.  Learn from the best.  You’ll be able to pay it forward and offer perspective and insight to those who will come after you.

6. You ask forgiveness more often than permission.

The entrepreneurial spirit is a trail-blazing one. Perhaps you started a trend, imagined a solution or product… before it hit the market.  You may take risks and learn on the go.  Waiting may feel like lost opportunity, and may not always result in the desired outcomes.  This means you may be more likely to ask forgiveness than permission.  It’s wise to keep a close circle of trusted advisors who balance your instincts to “go” with strategic input on pitfalls and timing. They’ll serve you well in cases where it’s better to ask permission than pay the penalties of impulsiveness.

7. You’re fearless, mostly.

Because you are generally optimistic in nature, believe you’re here to make a difference, and are willing to venture into the unknown…  you’re pretty fearless.  That doesn’t mean you have no feelings of fear.  It just means that when faced with feelings of fear, you’re less afraid of the risk of failure than you are of the certainty of settling for less.  It’s scary to move forward, but you’d rather face that risk than know you’d miss the rewards.

8. You can do the splits

You’re flexible, adaptable and capable of managing multiple demands.  Your able to deal with client expectations, sales demands, team management, and more…  When you are confronted with a road-block, you find an alternate path forward.  You’re the McGyver of your business – use that ingenuity!  It’s wise to set aside time to refocus and prioritize.

9. You hate being told you can’t

Well, of course – that’s because you can. The entrepreneurial-minded are adaptive problem solvers.  A “you can’t do that” is practically a dare to “do just that.”  If you’re a pioneer, many times you really can do what others don’t see as possible (yet).  But high-achieving pioneers and visionaries surround themselves with a variety of perspectives to get good intelligence and avoid blind spots.

10. You’re a Good Bouncer

Like Tigger, your top is made out of rubber and your bottom is made out of springs. You bounce back quickly. After all, it’s hard to keep an optimistic, purpose-driven, adaptive problem-solver down. You’re prone to resilience.  You may get knocked down a few times… but you won’t stay down for long.


How many of these 10 entrepreneurial traits do you see in yourself?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re already in a unique group. Embrace the traits that help you advance.  Learn more about your own strengths and leverage your understanding of your entrepreneurial traits and skill sets to make the most of your journey and avoid common pitfalls.



Cindy is the founding President at 17blue Digital Marketing. She's passionate about helping businesses reach their goals and impact their communities.