Are you born an entrepreneur or is it possible to learn how to run your own business successfully? The nature versus nurture argument has been ferociously debated for many years with neither side able to claim victory. So, instead of adding yet more conjecture into this already bloated argument, this week we will look at the key skills and traits that are most important for a budding entrepreneur to have in their arsenal.


A tenacious attitude and determination to succeed is key to making your new venture a success. All businesses are riddled with complications and setbacks, so being able to quickly get over any initial disappointment and react to sudden changes is invaluable. The likelihood is that in the first few years of your new venture, you will be working long hours almost every day of the week, so having the determination to keep going despite fatigue will ensure you don’t give up on your dream.

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” Charles Dickens


Arguably one of the most important sections of the entrepreneur’s DNA is the ability to spot an opportunity. This will allow you to see gaps in the market, reach out to new customers or sectors and locate new business opportunities to allow your business to grow. If you are constantly coming up with solutions to societal problems and ideas for new businesses, or can see how existing products or services could be more efficient, you are more than likely an opportunist.  Once an opportunity is spotted, you need to decide whether to take the risk.

“One man’s opportunism is another man’s statesmanship.”
Milton Friedman

Risk taker

We are not telling you to go out and take lots of crazy risks in the early stages of your business – or at any other point for that matter – but having the rationality to weigh up the relative pros and cons of an opportunity and take a chance quickly and without fear are the signs of a great entrepreneur. If you are going to take a risk, always make sure it is a calculated one, and you have a firm idea of what the outcome will be – good and bad – one, three and five years down the line.

“You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.”
T.S. Eliot

Attention to detail

If you are starting a business on your own, it is imperative that you know every last detail of every aspect of your operation from finance to product design. For a pop culture example of the importance of this, think of how many entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den fall short simply because they don’t know their numbers. Investors will not take your project seriously if you don’t know what you are doing inside out, from the numbers on your forecast sheet to the pros and cons of your competitors.

“When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
R. Buckminster Fuller


Although obviously integrity is again not essential to be a successful business owner, having it will give you an advantage over some of your peers, and will give you a great sense of achievement and pride in what you are doing when you become successful. Investors or potential partners may think your idea is great, but if they don’t feel you are being honest with them, they may think twice before doing business with you.

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
Douglas Adams


Not only do you have to hold the confidence in yourself that your idea will be a success, but you need everyone around you from friends and family to investors to feed off your self-assuredness and believe in the project too. Even when you hit a series of snags and everything looks like it is falling in on you, you need to have that deep reserve of self-confidence to dig from, to tell yourself that your idea is right and will work. Conversely, you also need the confidence to know when something is not working – and is not likely to do so – and if necessary close things up. This will allow you to draw on your experience for future projects, as just because your first company was not successful it doesn’t mean for a second that your next one won’t be.

“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
Vince Lombardi


Despite the famous phrase “nice guys finish last”, business is all about relationships, so if you come across as a likeable character and can build rapport with people quickly, you are more likely to be a success. If you can transmit this personable nature out to your business as a whole, customers are more likely to buy into your brand and stick with you.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
Author Unknown


The ability to always keep your mind open to new ideas and technologies will allow your business to grow and progress with trends, as opposed to against them. A curious and inquisitive mind will allow you to always ask “what if” as opposed to simply following others. Ultimately, a curious disposition was probably the cause for moving from employee to employer in the first place.

“Curiosity is free-wheeling intelligence.”
Alistair Cooke

A quick scour on the internet will help any budding entrepreneur. You can find Apps, StartUp Guides, and various Interactive Business Tools that will help you build that Big Idea into a Business Plan. You can then potentially morph this into a successful enterprise.  The truth is this: the most basic tools you need to be successful in running your own business are traits you may already have within yourself.

Want some more information? You’ll find plenty of articles in our knowledge hub and on our blog.