Some of us are born entrepreneurs—the dreamers, the visionaries, the kids with the curbside lemonade stands on the hottest days of summer. Others of us didn’t start out on this path, but consciously chose it as a career move at some point along the way—methodically planning, preparing, studying, carefully selecting just the right opening gambit and then creating that business we calculate has the best chance of success.

And some of us don’t fit into either of those categories. Some of us, myself included, venture into self-employment as a way back to ourselves, to a more balanced and whole life. While any entrepreneur stands to benefit from revisiting the points I’ll discuss below, it is to this third category that this article is directed.

However you got here, chances are that there are aspects of being an entrepreneur for which you were unprepared, under-educated or simply unaware. Not necessarily being a “born entrepreneur,” nor having long studied and prepared for the role, perhaps you are, like me, an
“accidental entrepreneur.”

If so, I have a tool for you!

What follows is an assessment and coaching strategy that will help strengthen, hone and renew the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s based on taking an honest look at yourself in relation to 12 traits that are critical to any entrepreneur’s success. You can use this with yourself as a self assessment, or in conjunction with a coaching or mastermind group. And of course, you can also use it with the people in your group.


Twelve Traits of the Entrepreneur

Score yourself on each of these traits on a scale of 1–10.


1) Persistence SCORE: ____
Staying on task with focus and energy, diligent, determined.

2) Passion SCORE: ____
Having belief and excitement about the project and about your being the one to do it, with zeal and fervor.

3) Commitment SCORE: ____
Putting that stake in the ground, holding to your bottom line, following through.

4) Resilience SCORE: ____
The ability to bounce back from setbacks or distractions.

5) Intention SCORE: ____
Purpose-guided action, focused, goal-directed.

6) Vision SCORE: ____
A dreamer, inspiring others to follow—to see clearly where you want to go.

7) Communication SCORE: ____
Connecting, creating a buzz, engaging your listener, listening, seeking to understand.

8) Patience SCORE: ____
Seeing the big picture, “tending the garden,” letting things emerge in their own time, grounded and centered.

9) Creativity SCORE: ____
The capacity to generate possibilities, “outside the box” thinking, forward thinking, intuitive.

10) Courage SCORE: ____
Can live with uncertainty, navigate change, tolerate paradox, have a “go for it” mentality.

11) Flexibility SCORE: ____
The ability to “go with the flow” and adjust to changing times or new information.

12) Authority SCORE: ____
The ability to take charge, accept responsibility, make decisions, take action.


How to Use the Assessment

In coaching a client through this assessment, we use a process of open-ended questions to increase self-knowledge. “How was this for you? What did you learn about yourself? What was your inner dialogue—critical, congratulatory, panicked? Which categories tensed you up? Which surprised you or caught you off guard?”

To gain the true benefit of this tool and transform your entrepreneurial skill set, take some time with each area and make a plan, using the following five steps.

If there are areas where you scored very low, build in the structures and support you need to succeed. Don’t put a lot of energy into struggle.

Create a vision of what it would look like to be a 10: how would you look, feel, be? Let yourself experience it as if it already happened. Know that this possibility is within you. If you can envision it, you can create it, because it already exists somewhere inside you!

What voice may stop you cold—what oughts, shoulds and other personal demons might show up and get in your way? Understand that whenever you step out or enter new territory, this will happen. Prepare for it, notice it, and have a plan for dealing with it.

Have clarity about what steps to take, when you will take them and how you will know that they are complete.

When you are ready, commit to it. To reinforce that commitment, tell someone else about it. Bring in support, get coached, do whatever it takes to move through any blocks or difficult places.

The entrepreneurial spirit can transform your life and the world around you. What you are doing matters in the world, and deserves your best effort. Developing your skills will only increase your sense of fulfillment and add to your success.


DONNA JOHNSON is a certified coach and member
of the International Coach Federation. A psychiatric
nurse-clinician and manager for 23 years, she
now owns her own business, Pathworks Coaching.