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Do you have the skills needed to be an entrepreneur?

An increasing number of people want to take the leap into entrepreneurship, head first.

16% of the US workforce is made up of entrepreneurs and worldwide there is an estimated 582 million entrepreneurs.1

Most entrepreneurs are driven by an opportunity to ditch the traditional corporate role. In fact, the most common reason individuals take the entrepreneurial path is to become their own boss. A third of entrepreneurs listed passion as their primary motivation.1

So what does it really take to start a successful company? And do you have the entrepreneurial skills to launch a successful business venture?

We’ll dip into quotes from famous entrepreneurs and what we can learn from them. Plus, learn how our research at F4S has identified the top 48 traits and aligns your venture success based on your current skill set.

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?

The team at Fingerprint for Success is dedicated to your success. So, we’ve put successful entrepreneurs under the microscope for 20 years and studied what it takes to become successful.

Here’s what our research tells us:

  • Successful entrepreneurs are 30% more likely to think big and 40% more likely to take initiative.
  • A successful entrepreneur is also more likely to be motivated by money and ROI than an average worker.
  • Successful entrepreneurs think in broad terms rather than focusing on excessive details and structure - it's a motivation related to venture success.

This gives us the traits of successful entrepreneurs: they see the big picture, get the wheels turning, and plan on the fly so they don’t get bogged down by excessive structuring. What’s more, their motivation for money and the desire to reap results keeps them ploughing.

You need to follow suit if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Key skills from famous entrepreneurs

Let's get started by looking at some of the most successful business owners. It's an amazing opportunity to dissect key lessons in entrepreneurship that you can actually apply to your own journey.

So, what can we learn today about becoming a successful entrepreneur? Let’s see:

Brian Chesky on business potential:

Brian Chesky successful entrepreneur quote
If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn't have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life. – Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb

Airbnb disrupted the traditional way to travel. So how did it come about?

The founders, living in San Francisco, were struggling to pay their rent. They noticed due to a large design conference, all of the hotels were booked. They noticed the potential for a business and the rest is history.

The top reason why businesses fail is because there’s no market need for their idea. In fact, 42% of startups fail because of this.

So, the take-home message is simple – to be a successful entrepreneur, look for a pain point that you can solve. In other words, we need to solve a problem that needs solving, not only a problem that’s interesting to solve. (Although F4S has found both are key to entrepreneurial success.)

So, how can you put this into action for yourself?

When you have an idea baking in your head, go on and share it with your target market. In our mighty list of entrepreneur resources, we’ve noted a resource called Ask Your Target Market. It enables you to survey your audience and learn how ripe your idea is and how well the market would receive it.

Anne Sweeney on defining business success:

Anne Sweeny successful entrepreneur quote
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you're proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney

The takeaway? You’ve got to work your way up by cherishing your unique traits. In fact, your strengths, the passion to grow, and the motivation for financial success make a powerful trio.

Discover your unique traits and develop your soft skills :

Learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. An entrepreneurial lifestyle is hard work. Tools like the F4S platform can help you uncover your motivations and achieve your goals through personalized coaching.

Jack Ma on passion:

Jack Ma successful entrepreneur quote
“In carrying out e-commerce, the most important thing is to keep doing what you are doing right now with passion, to keep it up.” – Jack Ma

This one’s a no-brainer. But, one that’s vastly under-appreciated. If you think the drive to make more money or a name for yourself will keep you going through the rocky terrains of entrepreneurship, think again.

Nothing fuels you as passion does.

Not sure what you’re passionate about?

Pinpoint your passion:

  1. What is it that you’ve been dedicated to since your childhood?
  2. What is it that comes naturally to you?
  3. What is it that you’ve been known for or credited for since your childhood?
  4. How do your current strengths align with your business idea? Start by jotting your strengths, then analyze how they connect with your idea.
  5. What is it that you’d pursue even if it didn’t pay off from early on?

This last question, in particular, is crucial. What is something you’ve been doing for a long time and can continue doing even when the odds are stacked against you?

Taking the free F4S assessment can also help you pinpoint exactly what motivates you (and what drains you) so you can pick a business that aligns perfectly with your passions.

Zig Ziglar on the achievement of goals:

Zig Ziglar successful entrepreneur quote
“Unless you have a definite, precise, clearly set goals, you are not going to realize the maximum potential that lies within you.” ― Zig Ziglar

This is another quote for successful entrepreneurs that rings true. In fact, setting sail without knowing your destination is a fool’s journey to nowhere.

In contrast, clear goals give you a target. Once you’ve set this target, you can easily focus on it instead of on a hodgepodge of I’m-not-sure-what-I-want-to-achieve amalgam.

And according to science, setting goals can make you 10 times more successful than moving forward without them.

Here's how to set effective and attainable goals:

  • Get clear on your passions and what truly motivates or energizes you.
  • Brainstorm and let all your ideas out on paper so you can see the gaps in your thinking.
  • Bounce around ideas with others you trust if brainstorming alone doesn’t help.
  • Prepare a plan based on the idea you’ve shortlisted with SMART goals and execute without overthinking them.
  • Take our free Goal Catcher coaching program.

Walt Disney on getting started:

Walt Disney successful entrepreneur quote
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney  

Often the overwhelm can bite at you and chain you down to a stop. This is a common struggle, so if you’ve been there, you’re certainly not alone.

To jumpstart things, it helps to read these words by Zig Ziglar on repeat: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

The best part? In F4S’ 20-year study on the world’s top entrepreneurs, it was discovered that successful entrepreneurs are 40% more motivated to turn their ideas into action than the rest of the population.

Here are a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling:

  • Think critically about what’s holding you back and address the culprit before it paralyzes your plan beyond repair.
  • Run your idea(s) through a shiny object syndrome test.
  • Start with a lean version of your idea so you can test and improve it before scaling things.
  • Take our free Start Fast coaching program. It's designed to help you jump in and turn your ideas into action.

Ellen DeGeneres on seeing the big picture:

Ellen Degeneres successful entrepreneur quote
“I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we're all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose... When you connect with that love and that compassion, that's when everything unfolds.” ― Ellen DeGeneres

Another one of the first steps to becoming an entrepreneur is thinking big. Getting caught up in the details is similar to getting stuck in quicksand – you keep drowning, losing sight of your direction.

This doesn’t mean you need to start big. Instead, start small, but think big.

If you’re struggling with thinking big,  here is a basic rundown:

  • Stop idealizing perfection and learn to delegate what you can’t do yourself.
  • Ask yourself big picture questions like ‘what can be the possible consequences of X,’ ‘what is it that you’re not asking yourself,’ and so on.
  • Give yourself some thinking time and journal your thoughts to connect them to your big picture.
  • Take the free Big Picture Thinker coaching program. 90% of our users achieve their goal when they complete the coaching program.

Ralph Waldo Emerson on finding your biggest advocates:

Ralph Waldo Emerson successful entrepreneur quote
“Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can. This is the service of a friend. With him, we are easily great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s be honest: achieving things on your own can triple the tough times. A supportive network or a trustworthy friend can, however, make all the difference by offering emotional, appraisal, and informational support. Find advocates who will be by your side.

Don’t have an extensive network to lean on? Here are some ideas to create business relationships:

  • Work with a career coach. Here’s scientific proof: individual and group coaching can help you beat procrastination (Walt Disney would agree). What’s more, folks who join group coaching also end up widening their knowledge pool and hitting their goals. In a HBR survey, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that coaches helped them reach their potential.
  • Build a support network. This won’t be hard as the internet is working wonders in connecting people from various walks of life. Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO of F4S, recommends EO and YPO as good forums for entrepreneurs to check out.

Arianna Huffington on failure:

Arianna Huffington successful entrepreneur quote
“We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

Arianna isn’t alone in experiencing failure. Walt Disney has a similar tale – he was fired from one of his first animation jobs. And, here’s the shocking bit – the editor told him that he, “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Lucky for us, Disney didn’t give up.

So, how do you make friends with failure? Here are some useful tips:

  • Understand that failure is inevitable. In fact, a first-time entrepreneur’s chance of success is only 18%. But once you study the lessons you learn from a failed project, your odds of success increase to 20%.
  • Don’t be afraid of failing. Sure, it stings but a mindset change is a rescue operation from all the hurting. So, the best you can do is think of failure as a stepping stone to progress – an experiment you’re supposed to learn from.
  • Every time you falter, sit down to bawl (or scream or whatever your response is) but no longer than a day or two. Then, get back and make notes of what you learned so you don’t repeat those mistakes again.

Jim Rohn on opportunities for growth:

Jim Rohn successful entrepreneur quote
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” –Jim Rohn

81% of learners throughout the world think education will become more “do-it-yourself” in the future as people choose short courses, online learning, and self-teaching over formal education.

If you’re naturally curious, you’ll make an excellent life-long learner. Learning to satisfy your curiosity makes learning enjoyable and helps you retain more of what you read.

If don’t tend to have a curious spirit, try this instead:

  • Take a page from Richard Branson’s book and challenge yourself. He shares, “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had -- every day I’m learning something new.”
  • Make it a habit to learn from podcasts, books, newsletters, and blogs. We’ve put them together in this list.
  • Set small learning goals so learning doesn’t become a chore.

Feeling unmotivated?

Find out how to unlock your motivation.

Business skills of successful entrepreneurs: What does 20 years of research tell us?

The team at Fingerprint for Success is dedicated to your success. So, we’ve put successful entrepreneurs under the microscope for 20 years and studied what it takes to become successful.

Here’s what our research tells us:

  • Successful entrepreneurs are 30% more likely to think big and 40% more likely to take initiative.
  • A successful entrepreneur is also more likely to be motivated by money and ROI than an average worker.
  • Successful entrepreneurs think in broad terms rather than focusing on excessive details and structure - it's a motivation related to venture success.

This gives us the traits of successful entrepreneurs: they see the big picture, get the wheels turning, and plan on the fly so they don’t get bogged down by excessive structuring. What’s more, their motivation for money and the desire to reap results keeps them ploughing.

You need to follow suit if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Do you have the necessary skills for entrepreneurs?

Take the free F4S assessment to uncover your highest motivations - and your blind spots. You'll discover how you compare to the world's top business owners to get a peak into your future success.

F4S dashboard shows what motivates you at work

F4S dashboard

For example, you might find that your big-picture thinking skills fall outside of the ideal range for venture success. Knowing this is an essential skill of entrepreneurs, you can begin improving it or find a partner with this skill to support your vision.

Then with our free AI Coaching, you can develop the technical skills (and soft skills) to jumpstart your professional growth. We believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur and that the first step is learning more about yourself. From there, you can develop the skills you need to make the career choice that's best for you.

How to get started as an entrepreneur? 8 simple steps

Let’s condense all that we’ve discussed into 8 effective steps so you have a sound strategy on your road to becoming a successful entrepreneur:

1. Find out how ‘in demand’ your business model is

Working somewhere you’re not super-passionate about can be drudgery. But, leaping into entrepreneurship without a solid strategy can be worse – not to mention costly.

What’s the market like for your business – both now and in the future? What are the growth opportunities? Who are your customers? What will all of this cost?

2. Make sure you're motivated by money

Our 20-year study found that successful entrepreneurs are 43 percent more interested in money than the working population. Not just enchanted by the prospect of receiving a return for great ideas, but also taking the time to reflect on margins and ROI.

Do your research on the opportunity for growth, create sales forecasts, and if you’re less interested in the commercial side, team up with a co-founder whose mother tongue is financials.

3. Plan (it's a never-ending process).

Mick Liubinskas, a San Francisco-based technology entrepreneur defines the ‘p’ word you need to have as an aspiring entrepreneur as ‘patient passion’. “It’s hard. It really is. That’s why I need to see passion. Patient passion. Long-term passion. Meaningful passion. The kind that will walk through walls, walk for miles, and walk the talk,” he says.

Answer this: Is your determination to become an entrepreneur greater than your determination to ‘just get out of there’? Put another way, wanting to be an entrepreneur is simply not enough. Our founder and CEO Michelle Duval says, “You have to have an idea that you really care about - so much that you can stay with it over time and through all the challenges.”

4. PAYG (Plan as you go).

Successful entrepreneurs have little time for structure, have a flexible business plan, and don’t tend to get too bogged down in detail. If this sounds like your idea of torture, you might not be suited to the entrepreneurial life. Take heart though - our research shows that these are critical strengths that can be developed, with a little coaching help.

5. Stop waiting. Start doing.

In the entrepreneurial world, there’s no script or rehearsals and a multi-hat-wearing director will call the shots. In case the reference is unclear: successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for the right time to start, they just start. And with the integration of ever-evolving AI softwaresuch as conversational chatbot ChatGPT, interactive presentation tool Craft Docs, and AI pitch deck generator, leveraging data-driven insights and automation to 'Just do it' provide even smarter and more efficient tools.

6. Think beyond your idea – think BIG!

Don’t cook up a small idea and treat it as your end goal. Instead, leave space for your idea to grow. It’s wonderful to have ideas in your mind related to the parent idea you’re planning to execute. Just don’t let all the plans stunt your growth and take things one step at a time.

7. Grow your support network and keep pushing.

That includes yourself. How much can you push yourself to improve, learn, and stick it out? What support structures - both in your startup team and at home will you have in place to rally behind you?

8. Don’t be afraid of failing and keep learning.

Some stats out there on entrepreneurship can be horrible like this one – 20% of startups fail in their first year. But don’t lose heart – because despite these horrible figures, the rate of entrepreneurial failure in the US has fallen by over 30% since 1977. No wonder, the world is packed with 582 million successful entrepreneurs as of 2019.

To make your name among these entrepreneurs, have a will to learn. And, don’t let a scratch or two stop you from pedaling your way to the top. If anything, don’t pause — note down the lessons you’ve learned and move fast. In the startup world, patience doesn’t help, bouncing back quickly does.

Are you ready to step up and become a successful entrepreneur?

Here’s hoping you now have the answer to how to get started as an entrepreneur. To be successful, get this straight: just get started. Don’t look back. Don’t look sideways. And, certainly don’t let failure keep you stuck.


  1. https://www.thinkimpact.com/entrepreneur-statistics

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