Entrepreneurial success is never linear. All entrepreneurs are faced with opportunities, challenges and obstacles. How they respond to these situations can determine their success or failure.

A recent article written by a professor in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge summarized 5 personality traits that influence an entrepreneur’s success or failure in their venture [1].

1. Confidence

“Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.” – Michael Bloomberg

Confidence is essential for startup success. Entrepreneurs must have the confidence to take risks, lead their team to create their vision and sell their product to investors and customers.

2. Optimism

“As I look forward, I’m very optimistic about the things I see ahead.” – Bill Gates

Optimism about the product, team and future is crucial. A recent study of entrepreneurs found that they perceived risks as smaller than they actually are and smaller than other people perceived them to be [2].

3. Passion

“A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.” – Charles Schwab

Passion fuels motivation and determination. It is both palpable and contagious. Many consumers, businesses and venture capitalists will be swayed by an entrepreneur with passion.

4. Self-efficacy

“A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell

An entrepreneur must have a belief that they (and their team) have the capability to execute their vision and successfully run their venture.

5. Persistence

“I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me.” – Colonel Sanders

A successful entrepreneur will overcome and persevere despite many setbacks, roadblocks and failures. They learn from the challenges to improve themselves, their team and their product.

Being a successful entrepreneur means that you have persevered through criticism and thrived in the face of failure. You have demolished obstacles and led your team to achieve greatness. Your tenacity and persistence have served you well and I am sure that your customers and team will thank you for it.


[1] Baron, R. (2004). “The cognitive perspective: a valuable tool for answering entrepreneurship’s basic “why” questions.” Journal of Business Venturing 19(2): 221-239.

[2] Cotterill, K. (2011). “Entrepreneurs’ response to failure in early stage technology ventures: a comparative study.” IEEE International Technology Management Conference

Photo Credit: Karol K