5 Key Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur (2024)

5 Key Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur (2024)


Whether you’re searching for partners or trying to secure funding, growing a brand takes determination. Venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton looks for that determination, and other traits, in an entrepreneur to determine if their business will be successful. 

As the founder of Backstage Capital, Arlan invests in overachieving, underrepresented entrepreneurs. To date, she’s backed 200 companies, including Shop Latinx, Bippy, and Couplet Coffee. 

In nine years, Arlan has met with thousands of potential founders and narrowed down her checklist of prerequisites. This list helps her make more informed decisions and find entrepreneurs who are worth her investment.

When it comes to launching a successful and sustainable brand, Arlan has specific character traits she’s looking for in a founder.

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The 5 character traits every founder needs 

Ahead, Arlan shares five traits she needs any startup founder to have if she’s going to invest in them.

1. Confidence

To Arlan, the embodiment of a good founder is someone with “radical self belief.” A true sign of confidence is powering through when someone thinks you’re going to fail or won’t agree to work with you. 

“You first have to believe that you can accomplish it and that you are the one to do it,” Arlan says. Ownership in your idea is important too, because if you don’t believe you’re the one to bring this business to life, then an investor won’t either. 

2. Resilience

“If I’m going to pattern match for anything, it’s going to be grit, drive, and resilience,” Arlan says. Entrepreneurs need to be able to survive ups and downs—dealing with delays, or managing customer service, for example. Your determination will keep you motivated as things evolve over time. 

3. Open-mindedness

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember your business is going to change. Arlan wants to work with people who have accepted that some shifts along the journey will be necessary. 

There will be a lot of pivoting, Arlan warns. Get comfortable learning along the way, rather than fighting to stay the same. “It’s not just changing your mind. It’s evolving and having opinions as data presents itself,” she says. 

4. Kindness

Unexpectedly, kindness is one of the key factors Arlan looks for in founders. As a business owner, it’s inevitable that you’ll interact with hundreds of people, and you never know who may be able to help you in return. 

The way you interact with other people and businesses is a direct reflection of your brand. 

“There’s so many people involved in your story, and there’s an impression you leave on this world, and kindness goes really far,” Arlan says. 

5. Uniqueness

Arlan admires a founder who isn’t afraid to highlight their unique perspective and what makes them different. One of the best ways to embrace your unique view is to begin sharing your ideas with others—and find who you can partner with to bring them to life. 

“Have an unique view of the world with strong opinions and willingness to execute, even if others are telling you you’re crazy,” Arlan says. 

If you don’t already possess these soft skills, work on building them alongside your business. Treat every interaction as a way to grow personally and professionally. 

To learn more about how Arlan chooses founders to work, with and her strategy for reaching $1 million in revenue, tune into the full Shopify Masters episode.



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