I’ve been an entrepreneur for years. I’ve coached entrepreneurs. And I’m surrounded by entrepreneurs. While only a few of us are as successful as we’d like to be, there are some shared characteristics that serve as a starting point.

There really isn’t a way to put these in order, so I didn’t. Yet like all great things entrepreneurial, it starts with an idea

Idea- While there are a lot of people who tell you they want to work for themselves, most don’t ever get to doing so. It’s because they lack this fundamental starting point. Not only do you have to conceive an idea worth pursuing, you have to check around to make sure others aren’t pursuing it too. And if they are, you need to make sure there’s either room in the market (yawn) or that your idea and EXECUTION of it, is going to kick their A$$.

Ability to Execute- In the long run, it has FAR less to do with the idea than how well that idea is executed. Ability to execute is tied to a number of things, passion, drive, the plan and who you have on the team. Many entrepreneurs get deeply into a project before realizing that they’re actually drowning. Take the time up front and do your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and make sure you give your idea it’s best chance to succeed.

Passion- I just saw an image when doing a search for entrepreneur that rings true. It had “4 hour week” crossed off. It then had “40 hour week” crossed off. At the bottom in larger font was “168 hour week”. If you’re not fully ready to live this dream, all day, all night and in stereo, you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur. You had better be absolutely in love with what you’re doing. Otherwise, you won’t need to do it for long.

Flexibility- Man, without this, you could continually go down the wrong path for a very long time. What we start with as an idea, rarely ends up being exactly what the market actually wants. Don’t get me wrong, we’re close, but we need that flexibility in our thinking, in our schedule, and in our process to actually make something that people want.

Drive- In order to succeed as an entrepreneur one has to have the Sticktoitiveness, the GitRdon, the make it happen attitude. Turns out that no matter how good the idea is, it just doesn’t happen without good ole fashioned determination.

Selective hearing- The more complex and involved your idea, the more people will try and talk you out of it. There’s an old Chinese saying: “The person who says a thing is impossible should not interrupt the person doing it”.You will run into naysayers. Walk away. In the immortal words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Mindset- Ultimately, everything on here comes down to your mindset. You need the right attitude and the ability to believe you can achieve what you set out to do. If you can’t surround yourself with people who are fully vested in the success of your idea, block them all out. Entrepreneurship CAN be a very lonely road. But at least you’ll know you’re in good company.

PLAN- I don’t even feel the need to elaborate on this. If you need ideas, call me.

Support system- This can be a mastermind group with other entrepreneurs going through the same challenges. It can be your family. It can simply be friends who are excited to see you succeed. Whoever it is, make sure they are there for you. As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurship can be a very lonely road.

Wealthy Spouse- This just seems like a good idea. Regardless of how easy or involved your idea is, I can assure of two things: 1. It’s going to take longer than you thought to make it happen. 2. It’s going to cost more either in terms of building it out or in opportunity cost (things you didn’t do as a result of making this happen).

That’s the list. What do you think? What would you add?

How many of these have you experienced?

Are any of these holding you back from living your dream