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Three Key Traits of Entrepreneurs Who Are Driven to Excel

Posted on: May 1st, 2018

Three Key Traits of Entrepreneurs Who Are Driven to Excel

Are you a driven entrepreneur—one who is truly striving to make a dent in the universe? If so, you’re in good company.

Driven entrepreneurs are exceptionally motivated, exceptionally talented men and women who are highly committed to investing in all areas of their lives. For them, doing well means building a successful business, achieving their full potential and, in many cases, meaningfully helping other people.

To put it in a somewhat cliched way, truly driven entrepreneurs want to be all that they can be.

So who are these entrepreneurs, exactly?

To gain a deeper understanding of the driven entrepreneur, we surveyed 759 North American entrepreneurs who are senior managers (all C-level executives) and have at least a 25 percent stake in their privately held businesses. The revenues at their companies had to be at least $5 million annually in each of the past three years.

The result: About three out of five of the entrepreneurs in our survey can be classified as driven (see Exhibit 3).

The key traits of driven entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs who are driven are, by definition, striving to build very successful firms. In analyzing the personalities of driven entrepreneurs, three traits really stand out—as summarized in Exhibit 4.

Trait #1: Excellence

Note that more than nine out of ten driven entrepreneurs profess to being exceedingly motivated to excel. This trait is characteristic of only about three-fifths of the entrepreneurs who are characterized as “not driven.” Many driven entrepreneurs are highly competitive and do well in challenging environments. It is not uncommon for driven entrepreneurs to have what we refer to as a calculated obsession with achievement.

Trait #2: Learning

Being a lifelong learner is the second key trait, cited by about four out of five of the driven entrepreneurs. Being open-minded and curious, as well as receptive to new ideas and opportunities, can readily translate into greater business success. Driven entrepreneurs are habitually seeking to expand their knowledge and understanding as they search for ideas, information and insights they can use to continue to excel.

In stark contrast, only about one-third of non-driven entrepreneurs say they’re on a lifelong quest to learn and grow.

Trait #3: Larger purpose

The two groups diverge most substantially when it comes to having a greater sense of purpose beyond themselves, their loved ones and their businesses. Many driven entrepreneurs are looking to create social value—and even to change the world for the better. They are enthusiastic and determined to have a meaningful impact and leave a meaningful legacy.

Note that what makes entrepreneurs driven is not simply that they have these characteristics—but that they possess them to a much higher degree than their peers. Non-driven entrepreneurs clearly exhibit some of these traits—but not to the extent we see them in driven business owners. Driven entrepreneurs also are better at integrating these traits in ways that enhance the overall impact.

Becoming increasingly competent and successful

Most entrepreneurs are looking for ways to become increasingly competent and successful—and there are a number of ways they take action to improve their businesses, regardless of whether or not they are driven (see Exhibit 5).

All four of these broad-based approaches can contribute to leadership and managerial development and to effectively solving conundrums. All these approaches can effectively:

  • Translate learning into the workplace, helping companies and employees accomplish greater outcomes
  • Result in more self-awareness and increased motivation
  • Help in developing self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • Produce enhanced overall well-being

Let’s look more closely at each approach:

Self-directed learning

Everyone surveyed engages in self-directed learning, which is a broad category covering everything from looking things up on the Internet to reading business books. Today, it is a given that when an entrepreneur has a question or is trying to better understand some topic, he or she will go out and research it.

Peer support

It is often quite lonely growing a company. Thus, most entrepreneurs will at some point turn to their peers for support. This support can take many forms:

  • Reaching out to peers with questions and concerns
  • Creating formal and informal company boards, including advisory boards
  • Joining chambers of commerce
  • Joining trade associations
  • Attending industry events including conferences and workshops
  • Joining certain private clubs
  • Joining mastermind and CEO groups (more on these below)

Turning to other entrepreneurs is a time-tested and powerful way for business owners to learn new things, understand how to handle obstacles and problems, and make connections that can be instrumental in moving their companies forward.

Educational platforms

These areexecutive development and management education programs, as well as specific training and professional development that is part of an educational program. While these are not tremendously popular options—only about 30 percent of entrepreneurs have used educational platforms—note that driven entrepreneurs are more than twice as likely as non-driven entrepreneurs to use an educational platform.

Spotlight on mastermind and CEO groups

As noted, entrepreneurs tend to seek out their peers to help them improve. But a great deal of this effort tends to be informal and unstructured—and ultimately, not particularly transformative.

Conversely, there are mastermind groups or CEO groups—formal, structured peer-support groups that are designed and run with the intent of helping entrepreneurs reach for the stars.

The term “mastermind group” is usually credited to author Napoleon Hill. In his book The Law of Success, Hill defined “Master Mind” as “a mind that is developed through the harmonious cooperation of two or more people who ally themselves for the purpose of accomplishing a given task.”

Today, mastermind and CEO groups are much more than a handful of people who ally themselves for the purpose of accomplishing a given task. They’re usually organized groups that consist of many business leaders and possess two main characteristics:

  • They have an executive director. While the person or persons might have different titles, the executive director is responsible for running all facets of the group. Sometimes, the executive director even plays an important role in defining the group.
  • Entrepreneurs pay membership fees to join. These fees range significantly, from less than $100 annually to more than $100,000 a year.

Our AES Nation research revealed that approximately 14 percent of entrepreneurs are members of a mastermind or CEO group (see Exhibit 6).

But most important: Driven entrepreneurs make up nearly a quarter of the members of these groups!

Accelerate your success

Action step: Contact your financial or legal professional to assess whether you’re on track to achieve your business goals. This can also be a good time to discuss any other financial concerns you may have.

This report was prepared by, and is reprinted with permission from, VFO Inner Circle.  AES Nation, LLC is the creator and publisher of VFO Inner Circle reports.

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.

Fusion Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures

VFO Inner Circle Special Report
By Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen Jr.
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