15 Key Traits Entrepreneurs Should Cultivate to Improve Themselves

What is one trait entrepreneurs should cultivate in order to become better business people and leaders? How should they go about developing this ability?

Entrepreneur talking on the phone

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Empathy

Empathy is an essential soft skill. Empathy enables you to predict the effect your decisions and actions will have on others. Without empathy, you can’t build a team or raise future leaders. Empathy is usually not the default operating mode for many. Before you say or do anything, teach yourself to think of the people who will be affected and what impact your words and actions will have on them. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

2. Acceptance

Acceptance is a loaded term and also critical to becoming a better business person and leader. First, accept yourself fully, including acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, and then learn to accept others. Finally, accept situations. At no time has acceptance been more critical than in the current climate of uncertainty; however, the ability to accept will help you weather this storm. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

3. Persistence

Persistence and passion have allowed me to knock down doors and achieve things that once seemed impossible. When you lose a bid, have an idea rejected or otherwise stumble, don’t let the negativity take over. Clients recognize confidence, and when you keep that belief in yourself, they will inevitably feel that same confidence in your ability to deliver meaningful results. – Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media

4. Discipline

If you want to become exceptional at what you do, you have to learn to be disciplined. Set clear goals and propose a plan for how you’ll go about achieving those goals. If those goals are not met, take the time out to assess what you could do better next time. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have a clear plan for their working day and they stick to it. – Ibrahim Alkurd, New Mine

5. Adaptability

Effective leaders and entrepreneurs adapt to changing circumstances. As every startup founder knows, entrepreneurs wear many different hats as they build their business. Plans evolve in response to evolving markets. The to-do list you wrote this morning may be obsolete by lunch. An essential pivot may put your business on a different path. Rigidity leads to failure while adaptable leaders thrive. – Chris Madden, Matchnode

Entrepreneur planning for the day as her morning routine

6. Self-Awareness

As an entrepreneur, you may know what you’re good at, but do you know what your weaknesses are? Being self-aware of them will help you reach out to the right people and resources to shore up those gaps. Check out resources on emotional intelligence for help and consider asking others to identify what they need help with. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

7. Kindness

Have you ever met someone that was genuinely one of the nicest people you’ve ever met? If so, you know how important it is that you’re a kind and thoughtful person when talking to employees, management and customers. When you have a heart, it shows. Productive people can make the most of their careers by being thoughtful and compassionate in a space where most of that magic has disappeared. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Listening

Too many leaders like to hear themselves talk and this ends up ruining many business deals and operations. It’s also difficult to work for someone who doesn’t hear you out. So, as an entrepreneur, it’s your job to keep both ears open at all times regardless of who you’re speaking to. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. Accountability

If you can’t admit to your mistakes and shortcomings, then you aren’t fit to be a leader. A leader is aware of his or her doings and isn’t afraid to take accountability for their actions. It shows responsibility when a leader admits to faltering, which only makes them human. Showing this behavior also tells others that you don’t place blame on others. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Gratitude

Being grateful will not only make you a better leader and businessperson, but it will make you a better human being no matter what career you pursue in your life. Every morning, be grateful for everything you have accomplished and everything you have, even the people around you. Emotional intelligence has a lot of power and will also affect your success in the professional arena. – Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises

Learning business owner

11. Learning

I’m going to tell you a secret. Founders do not know everything. In fact, they are constantly having to learn new things as their business grows and faces new challenges. How this is done differs for everyone, but it is often a mix of trying and failing, reading and listening to others to gain perspective. – Kasey Kaplan, KWK Studio

12. Curiosity

Entrepreneurs must get curious about their industry, their solutions and their competitors. Ask the question “why?” as often as possible to help drive a deeper understanding of the business around you. This constant need to seek out new information is what will put you ahead of your industry and ensure you are always forward-thinking. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

13. Time Management

You wear different hats when you’re an entrepreneur. This means that your tasks will be varied and spread out. Managing your activities and staying on top of your many jobs needs organization. Use time blocking as a way to hyper-focus on specific activities during a given time period. You’ll accomplish more and become a better leader overall. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

14. Accessibility

One of the best traits entrepreneurs can develop to become better leaders is to be accessible. When leaders hit a certain level, many stop being available to their teams. Though boundaries are important, leaders need to make sure they are still accessible to those they lead. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

15. The Ability To Say ‘No’

Knowing when to say “no” is an often overlooked skill that’s actually critical to being a focused, responsible business leader. It’s critical that not only are you able to say “no,” but that you also learn how to say it in a way that’s not offensive or off-putting to others. It’s one of the hardest — but most critical — things an entrepreneur can do. – Ryan D Matzner, Fueled