Ace Hardware, a retail chain headquartered in Oakbrook, Illinois, recently released an entrepreneurship study that should give hope to would-be entrepreneurs without a formal business education.

Of the 500 small-business owners surveyed, 79 percent have at least some college education, but only seven percent think it is important to be "educated in business or finance."

Other traits that ranked high on the respondents' list of keys to entrepreneurial success were industriousness, motivation, perseverance, intelligence, good instincts and passion, in decreasing order.

However, experts disagree on which characteristics are the most crucial. For example, the Small Business Administration offers a weighted, self-assessment tool for people to see if they have the makings of a mini-mogul. "If they do not have a business plan they would not score very highly at all," says Jim O'Connor director of the Small Business Training Network at the SBA.

The assessment tool, with is completed by over 300,000 people each year, also assigns a high value to responses about whether a potential business founder considers themselves a self-starter and whether they have experience in or knowledge of the industry they're entering.

"The majority of people [who start businesses] don't have any kind of background in finance, or accounting, or budgeting," says Rhonda Abrams, author of The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies and CEO of The Planning Shop, a company that does business-plan consulting for entrepreneurs. "They do have some kind of background in the product or service they're going to be providing."

Some basic business understanding is necessary for dealing with things like accounting, and profit calculation, but Abrams says, when it comes to financial know-how, business owners "quickly discover that they both need to learn some of it and hire some of it."