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6 Characteristics of Successful Young Entrepreneurs

What comes to mind when you think of achieving entrepreneurial success? We’re guessing these are near the top of your list:

  • Profit
  • Brand recognition
  • Growth
  • Late nights, long hours

Those are all part of the equation. But there’s more to it than that.

Looking at the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, we can identify 6 characteristics they have in common. Check this list and see if you recognize yourself in these descriptions. Don’t worry if you come up short on a few. We’re here to help you create your best entrepreneurial self for maximum success!

1.         CURIOSITY

Also known as a “beginner’s mindset,” and known as “keep learning.” This means, among other things, being self-aware enough to know what you don’t know. You seek out answers and solutions. You ask questions. You never assume that things are fine or that you “got this.” You listen to your peers and those who came before you. You keep up with trends, news, and events in your field. Curiosity is what pushes you to make your business great instead of just fine. A beginner’s mindset will keep you sharp and resourceful.

How to develop curiosity: One of the best things you can do for yourself – right now and for free – is to subscribe to newsletters, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels created by top people in your field. Not only will this keep you in the loop for your chosen field, but it’s a great way to network, find events, and come up with business ideas.


Let’s say that one day you walk into a class and there’s a sub. This adult, who is supposed to teach you AP French, is slumped over the desk, dressed in a torn, dirty t-shirt, and keeps yawning. The bell rings, you sit down, and they get up to start class. They mumble when they speak. They keep looking at the teacher’s textbook because they don’t really know French that well. Would you take this person seriously? Probably not.

The same goes for you. Take yourself and your business seriously and others will, too. Whether you’re pitching to potential investors, arriving at a business competition, or sitting in front of your computer trying to build your website, it’s crucial to stay professional.

How to develop professionalism: Start by drawing and maintaining clear boundaries between your personal life and your business. This means separate social media accounts, a separate email, and maybe even cutting family and friends out of your company if they can’t be helpful.

Dress for the part. Showing up to professional events and appointments clean, tidy, and in keeping with the dress code. (If there’s no dress code, err on the side of being too formal.)

Maintain a courteous tone in all communications. And answer them promptly.

3.         PASSION

Steve Jobs believed in personal computers for everyone. Uber came into being because two friends couldn’t get a ride one cold night. Mikaila Ulmer makes lemonade and helps bees.

What drives you in entrepreneurship? What made you start this business? What positive impact do you hope to make in the world with your company? That level of passion is what distinguishes dreamers from doers.

How to develop passion: Unfortunately, passion isn’t something you can create out of nothing. What you can do, though, is find something you already feel strongly about and go from there.

4.         RISK-TAKING

Starting a business is already risky, so you should be used to this by now. However, there’s an art to being a successful risk-taker when it comes to entrepreneurship. The key is being prepared and learning how to mitigate potential setbacks. Emptying your savings account to start a business selling a product you know nothing about is an unnecessary risk. The odds are enormously stacked against you. Having a backup plan helps turn risks into good decisions. This can mean anything from backing up your website to an offline server while you update your page to keeping extra money in your budget for emergencies.

How to be a risk-taker: Start small. Take a risk on something that won’t have long-term consequences for you or your business. Not ready to sell your product globally? Start locally with family and friends.

5.         NETWORKING

Knowing the right people in your field can give you an advantage. You may be the best at what you do, but without a connection, you can find yourself struggling to separate yourself from the pack. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean making friends with people who can hook you up with your dream job. The career counselor at your school is a great person to know because it’s their job to help you choose a path and get on it. Your parents are part of your network, too. They may know what it takes to start your own company, understand the hiring process, or have co-workers who are willing to mentor you.

How to network: Start in your immediate circle. Parents, close friends, teachers. Be open about the business you’re starting and what your plans are. You never know who has some experience that can help you!


While you need a certain level of perseverance to become a successful young entrepreneur, you also need to be highly adaptable. The two things are not contradictory. When driving somewhere, you don’t turn around and go home the first time you make a wrong turn. Similarly, in entrepreneurship, you need to stay focused on your goals but be willing to change the way you get there. Adaptability helps you keep your business creative and relevant.

How to develop adaptability: Keep an open mind. Listen to what others have to say. Try to see every challenge as an opportunity to do something in a better way.

These 6 characteristics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to successful entrepreneurship. They’re a great way to get started. Do some honest internal inventory and see if you can learn how to grow these characteristics in yourself!

Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.

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