Original Date Posted: Apr 26, 2012
By: Amy Howell

From the Greater Memphis Chamber – Newsroom.

I know that there is a lot out there about what it means to be an entrepreneur, including plenty of case studies and real-life examples. What I find most fascinating are the characteristics of people who excel as entrepreneurs.

If you do some research, the word enterprise comes from the French word “entreprendre” or “to undertake,” dated as far back as 1852. The word defined means one who organizes, manages and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise—pretty true today.

So, with that context in place, here’s a list of what I believe young entrepreneurs have in their DNA:

  • Insatiable quest for information and constant curiosity: Most entrepreneurs I know wake up at night thinking of the things they don’t know or questions to ask. This insatiable quest applies across all boards: technology, world affairs, best practices, etc.
  • A good grasp on financials, venture capital and the global investment-banking world: Entrepreneurs know that they have to self-educate here. Many take classes and get degrees they know will simply help them down the road.
  • Complete and enviable drive and energy that can often drive other people crazy: It takes this drive and energy to be a risk taker, manager, creator, and leader. I would also bet that most entrepreneurs get up early, read everything and still have time to get to the gym.
  • Passion: Perhaps the most important trait of any entrepreneur. Passion for the work is what sells to the VCs, the banks, and the boards. It is also contagious. I’ve had people tell me that they want to work with me because they want to love their job like I love mine. Big compliment, but passion is not transferable.
  • Agility and flexibility: When one door closes, instead of hoping another will open, entrepreneurs see four or five that could open. Having a never ending “what if” and “why not” ability to be flexible and see around obstacles is a gift that I think one is born with. Entrepreneurs don’t like the word “no.”
  • Intolerance for mediocrity: This goes with point number three, but what I mean by this is that in addition to drive, entrepreneurs don’t like the mediocrity, status quo or wasting of time and resources. Further, they will challenge it or go around it to get the result they need.
  • Last on this list (but certainly not least) is the feeling like other people don’t get it: It is this deep down voice that says stay quiet while other people are talking, and you don’t understand why. And by this, I mean in business. I have been in so many corporate meetings where mid-level managers are talking and literally, my inner voice is screaming to say, “What in the Sam Hill are you meaning to say?” Some call it red tape or bureaucracy but entrepreneurs have other words.

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