Having worked with countless business leaders and entrepreneurs during the past two decades, I’ve discovered five key attributes foundational to successful entrepreneurs. The soil from which they grow is enriched with qualities I call “entrepreneurial DNA.”  The best entrepreneurs inspire and achieve by being bold, confident, strong, and visionary as they become activators.

Bold entrepreneurs shine when everything is on the line.

They are willing to take risks when others are not. They’re willing to be the first, because they know that leading often means 7 stepping out before the path looks safe.  An entrepreneur’s boldness creates confidence, which I define as ultimate conviction in one’s own thoughts and beliefs. Confidence builds a steel backbone that won’t be broken.  Everything worth doing is met with difficulty, which is why real entrepreneurs are strong. They are powerful enough to punch through the hard times.  Entrepreneurs with vision will have a solid grasp on the overall picture of their plans, but also will understand that there will be hurdles. Taking hold of a vision means you are more than a dreamer—you can see the end result and anticipate the difficulties in getting there.  The fifth trait brings them all together, creating the sort of mythic figure who can disrupt entire industries. I call this DNA trait activation. An activator walks the talk.   They are confident and can back up what they say because of what they do.

I didn’t pull these entrepreneurial traits from thin air or pluck them from the pages of a textbook. They came from somewhere far deeper: real-world experience. I’ve watched them work and unfold my entire life and career. It all started with my parents.

My father, Frank Seitzinger, was an entrepreneur and farmer in northwest Iowa.

He was incredibly resilient unfazed by what “normal” folks did.  This drove him to be one of the first in Iowa to take on no-till farming, earning him a reputation for innovation. And that’s the lesson here: great entrepreneurs always dare to be the first. They don’t wait for permission or for someone else to take the lead.

By the time I was born, my father owned a 10,000-acre farm in northern Minnesota called the Klondike, had built a new house on the property, and flew his private plane to business deals across the country. How did he get there? Because of his entrepreneurial DNA.

My father was a powerful negotiator and a man to be taken seriously.

It was his knowledge, talent, and perseverance that made him bold in his decision-making. This helped him grow a farming operation that included a grain warehouse bigger than the local mall. He would eventually sell the Klondike farm. In his foresight—or entrepreneurial vision—he retained the right of first refusal to buy back the land. This proved extremely lucrative, as he did eventually buy it back. When I think of an activator who dives in without looking back, I see my father. He was always doing. He had a voracious appetite for reading and learning.  In short, he never let a big deal, idea, or opportunity sit unexecuted.  He took care of his employees, volunteered locally, and took seriously the idea that his success, and the success of those around him, created a stronger community.

My father was an incredible entrepreneur, but my mother, Bonnie, was at his side every step of the way.

She created her own waves as a leader who had a knack for making people feel like they were important, no matter where they came from or where they were going. She was the chief networker and lived by the premise that success is not worth it if you’re not helping others. There was an entrepreneurial spirit in my mother as well that resonated during my childhood. 

My mother showed me that entrepreneurs do whatever it takes.

For entrepreneurs, building a better life starts with what I call the MashUp (more on this in my next blog). If you’re only building a career, you won’t have the richness and fullness of life experience. But if you’re building a life, you’ll have a complete circle of relationships with God, your family, and other human beings, and you’ll have a strong sense of purpose.

Want to read more on business entrepreneurship and leadership? Check out my book “Worth It” on Amazon HERE.


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