12 Personality Traits Entrepreneurs Should Possess, and Improve on, to Succeed in the Startup World

What one personality trait is key to success in the startup world, and how can you cultivate it?

Startup founder

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is key. Every interaction with an investor or prospect is a chance to build credibility, and having typos or sloppy formatting is a quick way to look unprofessional. By double checking your work, you can learn where you are prone to mistakes, and avoid them going forward.

Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot

2. Conscientiousness

We start businesses to make money, but the best products come from companies that prioritize conscientious dedication to getting the little things right and that respect their customers. Create delightful products for the love of creating something delightful — then market them for all you’re worth.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

3. Decisiveness

Analysis paralysis is a real problem for entrepreneurs. As the saying goes, “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Sometimes you have to take what you know, however imperfect, and make a decision — because by the time you have enough information to make the perfect decision, it’s too late. The ability to be decisive without being reckless is a rare trait, but one that is essential to building a successful business.

Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

4. Self-Discipline

An almost military way of managing time might be extreme, but the middle ground (fostering self-discipline) is a sure way to succeed. When I was initially going through the motions during my early years as an entrepreneur, I found that if I didn’t consciously make my habits, they were formed without my consent. Time management is a great way to foster discipline by prioritizing obligations.

Cody McLain, SupportNinja


5. Flexibility

The startup world is highly unpredictable, so you have to be flexible. You can plan for things as much as you want, but something is always going to pop up. This not only applies to your schedule, it’s also all about your mindset. Being open to new ideas might just give you the push you need to get a step ahead.

Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

6. Grit

Being able to fall down and get back up again is difficult; it often feels like a punch to the gut. We have to remind ourselves that things fail more often than they succeed, and that you truly haven’t failed unless you have quit. Remember to keep getting back up after setbacks in business and in life. You will eventually triumph.

– Jason Applebaum, Egear Media

7. Humility

Constructive criticism is absolute gold. It can be hard to hear criticism of your ideas, projects or work, but if you take a step back, hearing criticism is one of the most valuable things someone can offer you. This is why it is so important to be humble in the startup world. Be willing to listen to everybody. You don’t always have to agree with someone’s opinion, but you should always listen.

Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

8. Hustle

The No. 1 trait is your ability to set a goal, then do absolutely anything to achieve it in the face of ongoing rejection, inadequate resources and lack of experience. Luckily this is a trait you can cultivate: Just pick an activity and set a goal, and don’t stop until you meet it. If you aren’t able to go gluten free for a week or read one book every week, running a business may not be for you.

John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation


9. Patience

Patience is very necessary because a startup doesn’t always move as fast as you would like due to barriers and problems that appear out of nowhere. By being patient, you can calmly deal with these situations and have a clear head for potential solutions.

John Rampton, Due

10. Problem Solving

Many times the key personality trait to finding success in the startup world is problem solving. During the course of your journey, you’re going to run into obstacles that seem insurmountable. It’s important to remember there is always a solution to a problem and you need to continually remind yourself of that. Taking this approach every morning will set you up for success and inspire your team.

Michael Spinosa, Unleashed Technologies

11. Persistence

There are few certainties with a startup, except that things will be uncertain. Being persistent is critical. You need to be someone who picks themselves up each day, keeps going when you hear a “no,” follows up when you don’t hear anything, and just keeps driving toward your goals. This is no small feat, and takes exercising these muscles to build them up. All the small positive actions add up.

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

12. Self-Awareness

Knowing your own limitations is crucial. You should know very concretely what you are and aren’t good at, as well as how to tell when you’re about to burn out, so that you can focus your work on the times and environments in which you are personally the most efficient. Startup work requires heavy self-management, so be honest with yourself about when you know you’re not at your best.

Roger Lee, Captain401