Entrepreneurship and starting a business is not for everyone, and being your own boss is not always greener pastures or the breeding ground for success.

That may be controversial given the global boom in entrepreneurship and the epic rise of new start-ups last year. In fact, Americans started 4.4 million businesses last year, a 24% increase from 2019, and that trend was similar in other developing countries.

But not all of those businesses will survive. The failure rates long term for new businesses are well known – 20% in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% by the five year mark, and by the end of the decade only 30% will remain (Entrepreneur magazine). Competitive pressures, lack of capital, cash flow issues, and people starting businesses for the wrong reasons and lacking the staying power required to ride through turbulent times will force many of those businesses to close their doors.

No, this isn’t yet another article about the failure rates of businesses or meant to be a cautionary tale to entrepreneurs-in-the-making, but rather a chance to pause and evaluate if you have what it takes to ride the wave. When I say not everyone should start a business, and not everyone is an entrepreneur, I mean that.

After working with hundreds of women over the last few years, I can attest to the fact that while every single one of them was passionate about the idea of being their own boss, generating their own income, and walking away from a corporate job, not all of them were truly ready for what it would take to successfully make the leap. And to watch someone come to that realization months and sometimes years into their journey, after spending a lot of time and money, is incredibly painful.

Part of my job as a Corporate Exit Strategist and Start-Up Business Coach is to help women answer the question – is entrepreneurship for me? Do I have what it takes?

That’s one of the reasons I am proud to be an Entrepreneurial Leap Collaborator with Gino Wickman. He has done some incredible work trying to set people up for success from the get-go before they leap into entrepreneurship.

In his book Entrepreneurial Leap, Wickman talks about the 6 traits of true entrepreneurs:

  1. Visionary
  2. Passionate
  3. Driven
  4. Problem Solver
  5. Risk Taker
  6. Responsible

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need – and likely have – all 6. Taking even one away creates a ripple effect in your business that’s going to make it incredibly difficult to survive long-term.

Curious where you fall with each of the traits? Grab the assessment!

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to dive into each trait and encourage you to take the assessment to see where you fall on the entrepreneurial spectrum. This isn’t to turn you away from starting your own business but rather to highlight exactly where you stand. It’ll also give you a sense for where you might need to partner with others to make your business successful. It might also show that being an employee or stepping into a different role may be a better fit for you.

Now, to dive into the first entrepreneurial trait: Visionary

All business ideas start with a vision. The founder has a vision for what’s possible in the future and is usually rooted in making something better than it is today.

Gino Wickman defines visionary as “being imaginative, creative, inventive, ingenious, enterprising, and innovative” (Entrepreneurial Leap, 29).

I like this definition a lot because when broken down you can see that there are some core elements at play.

Personal Vision – Entrepreneurs with the visionary trait have a personal vision of what’s possible. They see a problem, figure out a solution, and want to bring it to life.

Innovative and Creative – They’re also innovative and creative in the way they do that. They look at problems uniquely, assess the risks, and are willing to put it all on the line to see it come to fruition.

Change Makers – And lastly, they want to change the world – either locally or globally – because the problem they see is worth fixing and will likely make a profound difference in the world.

Before you start panicking about not being a visionary like Elon Musk or Richard Branson, know that not all businesses require such high degrees of visionary thinking. Depending on the problem you’re solving and the industry you’re in, you may need less. Think of it like most things – a spectrum.

With that said, you still have to have this trait in order to successfully build a services business of your own design. Without it, you’re going to struggle to see the bigger picture, understand how all the pieces fit together, and continually grow and innovate.

Curious how the visionary trait shows up for you? Grab the Entrepreneur-in-the-Making Assessment and see for yourself.


Jessica Sato is an Entrepreneurial Leap Collaborator in partnership with Gino Wickman, author of Entrepreneurial Leap.