5 Traits of a Next-Level Entrepreneur

UPDATED: January 31, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 27, 2023
an entrepreneur thinking

What are the characteristics and skills of a good entrepreneur? What’s the “it” factor that makes for a great entrepreneur? To be a basketball star, it’s likely that you would need to be extremely tall, fast, athletic and have real chops. But for someone studying entrepreneurship and business, the qualities of a great entrepreneur are more abstract and elusive. 

Top qualities of a successful entrepreneur

In my experience, there are five major traits that mean you have the chops to build a business and live the life of an entrepreneur:

1. Salesmanship.

The ability to sell something is absolutely necessary to running a business at any stage. Whether you’re starting out on the floor selling a physical product like I did or you’re the CEO of an agency selling talented employees, you need to know how to make a sale.

2. A chip on your shoulder.

Yes, I’m serious. And that can come in two forms. Either you were born with nothing and you’re just hungrier than the average human, or it’s the reverse: You were born into a lot of wealth and opportunity and you want to prove that you don’t need it—that you can build success on your own. In either case, some kind of chip can push you a long way, especially when it comes to the amount of hours and energy you’ll need to put into your business.

3. An independent spirit.

Being an entrepreneur means you rely on yourself and no one else. At the end of the day, you need to be 100% comfortable with making the final call. You have to be able to trust yourself and your intuition.

4. Understanding consumers and consumer attention.

Mark Zuckerberg is an example of someone who truly understands and trades consumer attention. He got it with his product, Facebook. He held onto it by identifying and acquiring Instagram. And he saw it with Snapchat, too, though that deal didn’t pan out. In any case, the lesson is that knowing where the consumer is, and where they are going, is crucial.

5. Patience.

It can be a slow and lonely climb to the top. If you want to play in the world of entrepreneurship but patience is a quality you don’t currently possess, I recommend developing it as much as you possibly can.

Listen, everybody is born with some capability to run a business. There is an amazing amount of entrepreneurs who can make a profit by working for themselves and running a small e-commerce shop around a personal interest of theirs. And the opportunities to do that have never been more available. So if that’s your goal, do it. It was the main thesis statement of my first book, Crush It!. I am all about that life and I support it.

But let’s be clear about entrepreneurs and the businesses they run: There are levels to this. The higher you climb and the more your business grows, the bigger the stakes become. More and more people will be depending on you to make the right decisions for them and the company. The league you’re playing in and the required skill set jumps from pickup ball to NBA very quickly, so if you haven’t yet, focus on developing these five qualities to make sure you’re ready to level up as an entrepreneur.

This post originally appeared on GaryVaynerchuk.com.

This article was published in March 2016 and has been updated. Photo by Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3 million to a $60 million business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world's hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Birchbox, before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25 million angel fund.

Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship and family businesses, and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion-dollar companies.