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Self-Employment: Traits and Attitudes

Succeeding as a self-employed person requires certain traits and attitudes. Knowing what they are—and taking an honest look at whether you have them—can help you figure out if you have what it takes to succeed.

Examples of traits and attitudes

Successful entrepreneurs seem to have a few basic traits and attitudes in common. (They also share certain habits and motivators.) For example, many entrepreneurs are

  • Able to see solutions where others only see problems. Your frustration over something not working well may be an entrepreneur’s inspiration.
  • Educated and enjoy learning. More and more business owners have post-secondary education. But even if they don’t, they are curious and like to learn. They read to find out about trends and increase their chances for success.

    Many entrepreneurs share the ability to see solutions where others only see problems. Your frustration over how something doesn’t work properly is an entrepreneur’s inspiration.

  • Driven and competitive. They have lots of self-discipline and drive—and may even be more motivated by winning at business than by making money.
  • Determined and refuse to give up. They tend to be the sort of people who won’t take no for an answer.
  • Willing to take a smart risk. They are okay with taking a chance where they have done their research and feel they have some control.
  • Self-starters. They know what they want to accomplish and will do what it takes to achieve it.
  • Healthy and ready for long hours. Entrepreneurs tend to take fewer sick days than others, and are more inclined to work through minor ailments. They often work long, unpredictable hours.
  • Not afraid of failing. They understand that their first or second try might not work out, but realize that learning from failure can be a key to success.
  • Adaptable and able to make sound decisions. Business can be full of surprises. Often, it’s how you deal with them—your ability to make sound decisions that steer you in a positive new direction—that can make or break your business.
  • Comfortable with networking, promoting, and selling. You don’t have to be really outgoing, but you must be able to rise to the occasion when needed to build relationships and promote your product.
  • Passionate about what they do. Whether their passion is for their product or service, or simply for being the best in the business, entrepreneurs tend to bring enthusiasm and commitment to their work.
  • Creativity and Innovation. Being able to create new ideas and see gaps in the market is a valuable skill for entrepreneurship. Plus, a creative approach will allow you to come up with creative solutions to problems you may encounter while running a business. 

While anyone can learn how to run a business, these traits will help you excel. The more of them you have, the more likely you’ll succeed.

Think about your own traits and attitudes

If some of these qualities don’t come naturally to you, you might be able to work on them. For example

Some people believe that to succeed in business, you have to be outgoing, driven, control-oriented, highly organized, and a top student. But experts say that’s not always the case. In some cases, people who have had a lot of success, such as top students, can make poor entrepreneurs because they hesitate to take risks and may be unwilling to fail.

Think about your past involvement in part-time jobs, school clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, and your current job. Try to appraise your natural traits and attitudes honestly.


Do you have the traits a successful entrepreneur needs? Are you:

√ innovative?
√ knowledgeable?
√ self-motivated?
√ proactive?
√ hard-working?
√ flexible?
√ organized?
√ passionate?
√ curious?
√ competitive?
√ patient?
√ self-confident?
√ healthy?
√ independent?
√ persistent?
√ tenacious?
√ adaptable?
√ resilient?
√ creative?

If you answered yes to many of these, then self-employment may be a career option for you. If not, consider practicing these traits to help improve your chances for success.

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