Answer by Peter Baskerville, Started 13 businesses with over 30 outlets in total and currently working on these in the educational space and, on Quora,

Entrepreneurs have been studied and written about by economists, anthropologists, management academics, psychologists, sociologists, historians, finance experts, and organisational scholars in an effort to identify what makes them tick and the characteristics they share in common.

A summary of this article Characteristics of an Entrepreneur that I co-authored with the management consultant Dr. Neil Flanagan, identifies what we believe are the common characteristics of the entrepreneur:

The characteristics of an entrepreneur are identified as being high energy creative people, who are self-confident, have high levels of self-esteem and are futuristic in their outlook as they seek to incessantly solve problems, take risks and learn from failures (theirs and others). They thrive on change and have a natural predisposition to showing initiative and willingly accept personal responsibility for projects. They harness all available resources within their scope in order to achieve success on their own terms.

Together we analysed the common characterises of an entrepreneur and came up with the following list of the A-Z characteristics of the entrepreneur:

  • A is for Ambiguity: Entrepreneurs are people that have a great tolerance for ambiguity. They don't need clarity to function because with an internal locus of control, they are happy the craft their own future from the malaise that others find intolerable.
  • B is for Beachhead strategies: Entrepreneurs have a natural understanding and appreciation of Beachhead Strategies that helps their idea gain market penetration in the early stages and secure customer acceptance for their offers.
  • C is for Commitment: Commitment, as the tap-root of the entrepreneur, is founded in their deep desire to live a life of significance. The 100% commitment is the entrepreneurial norm, not the exception.
  • D is for Destiny: The entrepreneurial spirit is interlocked with a sense of destiny. Entrepreneur are driven to take control of their future, to craft their destiny and if needs be, to make sacrifices in the short term for a greater long term gain. Their work is more aligned with a calling than a job--for them, it's work they were born to do.
  • E is for Effectual reasoning: Rather than start with goals and then gather resources as competent managers to achieve the goal, entrepreneurs start with resources and then craft a best-fit goal. Entrepreneurs takes stock of the strategic resources, capabilities and unfair advantage within their control and then they select an emerging opportunity that these capabilities make them uniquely qualified to exploit.
  • F is for Focus: An entrepreneur's concentration at times can boarder on obsession as they stick with their passion, in spite of the many distractions, and get the job done.
  • G is for Global: Yes, entrepreneurs start small but their ambition is to change the world--literally.
  • H is for Health: Good health for the entrepreneur is derived from their positive and creative mind set, their problem solving obsession and living the life of 'doing what they love + loving what they do': Healthy mind = healthy body.
  • I is for Innovation: Entrepreneurs know how to add value by making a product better and getting a target market to demonstrate their appreciation of it by parting with their money.
  • J is for Just do it: Entrepreneurs are action takers and should not be confused with creative day dreamers and idea makers. Entrepreneurs are decision makers and are unafraid of making wrong decisions knowing that these are often necessary to finding the path to the right one. With a Just do it mentality, entrepreneurs change the natural order to: 'Ready--Fire--Aim'
  • K is for Keep it real: Entrepreneurs are obsessed with the 'truth'. The 'what's real' or 'what works' if you like. They are also honest and straightforward in their dealings and expect others to do likewise.
  • L is for Leadership: Entrepreneurs lead simply because because others follow, and other follow because they see their own needs being fulfilled in the entrepreneurial directions and outcomes.
  • M is for Meaning: Entrepreneurs start enterprises because they want to 'make meaning'. To increase the quality of life, to stop the end of something good or to right a wrong. They have an inherent desire to change the world and to make their world a better place.
  • N is for Never Giving Up: Entrepreneurs continue doggedly on their quest with great persistence working for the moment when their time will come. Most of all, they never give up in spite of the setbacks and never quit striving for their ultimate success.
  • O is for Opportunistic: Entrepreneurs are not searching for AN opportunity (like a lottery ticket) but THEIR opportunity (the one that they are uniquely resourced to provide a solution to a need). They obsessively 'press on believing' knowing that ultimately, if they remain true to their call, their time will come.
  • P is for People: The entrepreneur's temperament package radiates a certain charm that makes for binding relationships, which inspires cooperation, confidence and loyalty.
  • Q is for Quirky: Entrepreneurs revel in the quirky. They add it to their products, you will find it in the unusual parts of their assortment, you will see it in their marketing and it is the endearing part of their service.
  • R is for Risk: Entrepreneurs want to invest their lives to attain the highest possible return and will willingly accept the risks that this conversely involves.
  • S is for Subjective Margins: Entrepreneurs achieve extra/subjective margins because they know how to perfectly position their offer in an emotive arena where price for the customer is not the most significant issue.
  • T is for Timing: For entrepreneurs, timing is everything. Experienced entrepreneurs know that many a successful venture happened because they launched it in the right place at the right time. So they are ever alert for the moments when the 'planets align'.
  • U is for Under the radar: Entrepreneurs often secure their entry into markets with minimal notice or perceived threat ensuring the least possible negative reaction from competitors, suppliers, partners and customers.
  • V is for Value-add: The entrepreneur's primary goal in their commercial endeavour is to add value. The entrepreneur makes their money by taking a slice of the added value that they give to their customers that their innovative products and services have created.
  • W is for Work & Play: Entrepreneurs live a fulfilled life where work and play mesh so indistinguishably. Where both are pursued with a spirit of excellence, displaying at all times an unconquerable passion and imbibing an endless duty to love. Where every act is an expression of a deep sacred belief, the totality of which is acknowledged by others as the 'mastery of life'.
  • X is for X Factor: Entrepreneurs have the indefinable 'X' factor. They are different but the difference is all encompassing and hard to analyse and define. It stems from their sense of mission and the authority they derive from their calling.
  • Y is for You: Entrepreneurs know that they will be at the epicentre of any new venture and so it is vital that they have a reputation that inspires trust, that demonstrates courage to act alone if needs be, that copes effectively with the unforeseen and that can boldly create the future.
  • Z is for Zest: The entrepreneur's zest comes from their belief that they can create and control their future and need not live their lives at the mercy of either fate or providence.

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Published on: Dec 23, 2014