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Practice Management > Building Your Business

3 traits of qualified entrepreneurs

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Unlike previous generations, millennials appear to be less interested in starting their own businesses, preferring instead to work for mature companies with proven track records of success. According to The Wall Street Journal, 11.6 percent of those under 30 owned businesses in 1989. Today that figure is only 3.6 percent — a troubling trend.

“The statistics show the odds of success for a new business are pretty dismal,” says Randy H. Nelson, author of The Second Decision: The Qualified Entrepreneur. “Half of new U.S. small businesses fail in their first five years, and 70 percent have gone under by year 10.” Drawing on the experience of his 25-year career, Nelson has identified the factors which lead to greatest chances of success:


Entrepreneurs tend to be very self-confident, says Nelson. It’s what leads them to the decision to go into business for themselves in the first place. They must believe that they can overcome the long odds against them.

Career-long learning

Entrepreneurs preach to their employees the gospel of growth and learning, but if they can’t adhere to that ideal themselves, they risk being left behind by advances in technology, etc.


A strong leader is essential to the success of any business venture, and Nelson outlines the four basic types:

“Urgent/reactive” leader:

This leader creates a frenzied atmosphere where crisis is the order of the day. She spends so much time putting out fires, that there’s little left for planning and goal-setting. 

“Ever optimistic” leader:

He believes in himself almost too much. He commits to the loftiest of goals and leaves his staff to figure out how to accomplish them.

“Reflexively pessimistic” leader:

The aim of this leader is not to win, but merely survive. She has faced tough times in her career and spends a great deal of time worrying. Over time, this pessimism becomes a liability. 

“Steady/proactive” leader:

This is the best type of leader, according to Nelson. He places a high value on productivity and profitability and knows how to achieve these things. Moreover, his flexible thinking allows him to change course when faced with challenges. “They understand both offense and defense, and can shift between them as cycles dictate,” Nelson says.

The entrepreneurial spirit has always been part of the American psyche. If you’re set on owning your own business, take the advice of those who’ve gone before you and develop the traits of a qualified entrepreneur.

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