5 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common

UPDATED: January 31, 2024
PUBLISHED: November 18, 2021

Successful entrepreneurs have five things in common that ensure their growth. How do you measure up?

Barbara Corcoran has met hundreds of entrepreneurs in her lifetime, and the best ones are always the same: They have a firm conviction about what they want to do in life. They don’t crumble when things get complicated. If a decision is impossibly tough, they force themselves to choose instead of staying stuck.

Corcoran observed these winning traits as a judge on Shark Tank, a TV show that gives entrepreneurs real business opportunities. For 12 seasons, she has listened to countless pitches and ultimately decided whether or not to invest in up-and-coming businesses.

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, Corcoran talks to SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada about what makes winning entrepreneurs so successful. Is it their collective mindset? Is it the habits they practice? According to Corcoran, it all stems from five key traits.

1. They are a tad arrogant, but in a good way.

Smart entrepreneurs have a unique internal compass. You could never tell them they’re headed in the wrong direction or to slow down and take it easy. It’s not in their DNA. The only thing that matters to a successful entrepreneur is their chosen path.

“I find that my best entrepreneurs listen to me and then do exactly what they please,” Corcoran says. “That’s how they are, and that’s a good sign. When I have a meeting with a new business I’m invested in, and they’re taking notes on what I’m saying and asking me to repeat myself, I know I’m going to lose my money. If they’re that attentive as if I have the formula, they won’t ever become successful entrepreneurs.”

Do people think you’re stubborn or arrogant when it comes to your goals? Good. As long as you’re moving the company forward instead of backward, embrace those bold traits.

2. They know success requires action.

Lots of people talk about starting a business but never do. The difference between those who build something great and everyone else comes down to four critical habits:

  1. Putting in effort
  2. Taking action
  3. Being dedicated
  4. Staying consistent

It’s all about doing, Corcoran says. The more you do for your business, the bigger it grows. 

But these golden habits influence more than just business outcomes; they are the key to living a happy life overall. When you apply this blueprint to everything you want—a nice house, a healthy body, strong relationships—you can really have it all.

“The difference between people who think happiness is elusive and people who are able to capture it is they take the action that’s needed—the willingness to work the 18 hours, the willingness to make a hard choice that’s going to scare the s— out of them, the bravery to tell people what they think, the courage to leave a bad situation,” Corcoran says.

3. They can recover from a setback.

When Corcoran invests in a new Shark Tank business, she’s not thinking about how the show will influence its success. She wants to know how the next six months will play out. Will the entrepreneur adjust to new challenges? Or will they fold under pressure?

“I can’t wait to see the ‘go wrong’ period. … I just say, ‘What happened?’” Corcoran says. “I don’t say a word, and I just listen. You know what I’m listening for? I’m listening to how the entrepreneur handled it because this is my harbinger of what I bought into.”

All businesses have setbacks. You might struggle so much in the first year that it physically hurts to think about everything you lost. But no matter what, the best entrepreneurs take responsibility for those missteps and create a better plan.

4. They’re good at making timely decisions.

Making tough decisions is a large part of any entrepreneur’s journey. There are so many options when it comes to choosing investment strategies, hiring business partners and creating new products. Some decisions aren’t urgent and can definitely wait. But for everything else, knowing how to make fast, impactful decisions is a must.

“I find that people who can’t make decisions are put down, and they never get ahead,” Corcoran says. “I’d rather make three bad decisions. At least I can get up and say, ‘I tried it and I feel good about myself.’ It’s not going to kill you, a bad decision.”

5. They have solid networks.

Take a good look at your social circle. Do the people in your life fill you with joy and positivity, or do they drain your energy? If your relationships aren’t serving you anymore, it’s OK to let go and connect with the right people.

Cocoran’s ideal person is humorous before anything else. They are easygoing, can withstand challenges and make work a fun experience for everyone.

“I want a happy life, and I don’t want energy suckers around me, and I don’t want negative people who are going to see the dark in everything, because I don’t believe in coming back for a second life,” she says. “I really want my shot at being happy.”

Brilliant Thoughts with Tristan Ahumada is no longer releasing new episodes on the SUCCESS Podcast Network, but you can still listen to the full conversation below.

SUCCESS Newsletter offer
Lydia Sweatt

Lydia Sweatt is a freelance writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.