Unsurprisingly, a number of different types of entrepreneurs have been identified over the years,8 including the following:

1. Nascent entrepreneur (i.e., an individual considering pursuing entrepreneurship);

2. Novice entrepreneur (i.e., an individual moving into entrepreneur-ship for the first time);

3. Serial entrepreneur (i.e., an individual has launched several entrepreneurial endeavors in a sequential fashion);

4. Lifestyle entrepreneur (i.e., an individual who, valuing passion before profit when launching a business, combines personal interests and talent with the ability to earn a living long term);

5. Habitual entrepreneur (i.e., an individual has launched or is currently launching several entrepreneurial endeavors in a parallel fashion); and

6. Entrepreneurial manager (i.e., an individual has the characteristics of an entrepreneur but is in an employment relationship with an employer; also called an intrapreneur).

Although the distinction of the types of entrepreneurs has at least some academic value, the more significant issue is the question of what exactly constitutes a successful entrepreneur. To state it differently, what are some key characteristics, attributes, attitudes, and behaviors that successful entrepreneurs have shown to possess and display?


Stevenson's Six Dimensions

Howard Stevenson studied successful entrepreneurs in both startup and established business situations and developed a preliminary description of entrepreneurial behaviors based on six critical dimensions of business practice.9 At one end of each dimension, there is the individual entrepreneur who feels confident enough to be able to seize an opportunity irrespective of the resource requirement. At the other end of the dimension, there is the individual manager who attempts to employ and fully utilize the disposable resources as efficiently as possible. Table 9.1 depicts the six dimensions and their extremes graphically:

Stevenson's work highlights six personal traits that successful entrepreneurs possess: tolerance for ambiguity, the ability to create an illusion of stability, risk management, attention to detail, endurance, and a long-term perspective. Stevenson remarked that entrepreneurs have the tendency to identify opportunities, harness and pull together the required resources, execute and implement an action plan, and harvest the rewards in a timely and flexible way.

Table 9.1. Six Dimensions of Entrepreneurship

Key Business





Strategic orientation

Opportunity driven

Resource driven

Commitment to

Quick and short

Long and slow


Commitment of

Minimal with many

Complete in a



single stage

Concept of control

Use or rent

Own or employ


Networks with



little hierarchy


Compensation and

Value-based and

Individual and




Source: Adapted from Stevenson (1983).

The Mind of an Entrepreneur—Timmons' Work

Jeffrey Timmons studied the mind of various successful entrepreneurial individuals and found that entrepreneurs share a common set of attitudes and behaviors.10 Accordingly, Timmons posits that successful entrepreneurs:

1. Work very hard;

2. Are driven by a deep sense of commitment and perseverance;

3. Have an optimistic outlook;

4. Strive for integrity;

5. Have a competitive desire to excel and win;

6. Are dissatisfied with the status quo;

7. Seek opportunities and improvements constantly;

8. Use failure as a tool for learning, development, and growth;

9. Shun perfection in favor of effectiveness; and

10. Hold a strong belief that they can personally make a difference.

Moreover, Timmons suggested that successful entrepreneurially minded individuals possessed solid general management skills and business know-how and were found to be endowed with creative and innovative capabilities.

In a similar vein, the Entrepreneurship Forum of New England (EFNE) suggests the following six qualities of a successful entrepreneur:11

Dreamer: Imagines how something can be better and different.

Innovator: Demonstrates how the idea applied outperforms current practice.

Passionate: Expresses so the idea creates energy and resonance with others.

Risk taker: Pursues a dream without all the resources lined up at the start and distributes the risk.

Dogged committer: Stays with executing the innovation and to make it work.

Continuous learner: Explores constantly and evolves to do best practice.

Characteristics of Entrepreneurs—Bygrave's Work

William Bygrave studied the characteristics of entrepreneurs and presented a list of 10 salient characteristics in the form of 10 "Ds" that were found in successful entrepreneurial individuals.12 These key characteristics and their description are depicted in Table 9.2.

Table 9.2. Key Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs




Entrepreneurs make decisions swiftly and decisively.


Entrepreneurs are completely dedicated and work



Entrepreneurs wish to be in charge of their own destiny.


Entrepreneurs are obsessed with the critical details.


Entrepreneurs implement entrepreneurial ventures with

great determination and commitment.


Entrepreneurs are deeply devoted and absolutely love

what they do.


Entrepreneurs distribute ownership with key employees.


Entrepreneurs act upon their decisions resolutely.


Entrepreneurs view the bottom line as the measure of

success rather than as a motivational driving force.


Entrepreneurs are visionaries and possess the ability

and drive to materialize their own dreams.

Source: Adapted from Bygrave (1997).

Having reviewed some of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, what does the actual process of entrepreneurship entail?

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