14 September 2017

The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as:

“A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

Richard Branson and Lawrence Jones playing chess on Necker

Entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Lawrence Jones playing chess on Necker

I don’t think this definition sums us up correctly. Entrepreneurs are more than people who set up businesses; we are wired differently. Entrepreneurs think differently. We behave differently. Whilst every business is different, as are the people behind them, there is no denying that there are common traits between those who succeed in business and those who don’t.

So what makes the difference for an entrepreneur?

At UKFast, every candidate that comes in to interview sits a psychometric test. It’s something that we’ve done for many years. The test gives better insight into a person far more than group activities and one-to-one interviews give. I sat the test many years ago and we sent it off for the team to analyse it. Our analyst, Alan, called me with the results. He said my test results showed the highest drive he’d ever seen and the highest goal-orientation. The results blew him away but he said that I’d be a nightmare for someone to manage! I am so focussed on the end goal and how I get there. It’s just not in my nature to do anything other than solve problems for people by setting up businesses.

I also think there are a few other key traits that make us who we are too…


Many people have told me that I have ‘rhinoceros skin’ because there are few things that will knock me off course. I take criticism on the chin and negativity bounces right off of me. There’s always a way to turn a negative into a driving force. Just after I sold my first business to Granada and became a director there, my uncle told me he was happy for me. At the time, he told me that this was the right move; I was never meant to be a businessman. That could have been a huge blow. However, instead of upsetting me, I walked into Granada, quit my job and went on to set up UKFast. I had a point to prove!


James Timpson and Lawrence Jones entrepreneur

With great British entrepreneur and businessman James Timpson,

Hand in hand with resilience is tenacity. Inevitably, every single successful entrepreneur has reached a point in their journey when they have felt like giving up. Instead they kept going. Choosing to never give up is one of the main ingredients of any entrepreneur’s success.

Steve Jobs reportedly said: “I am convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”. I couldn’t agree more.

Lonely place

Whether you’re at startup stage working every hour you can to build momentum, or as the head of business portfolio, being the boss can be a lonely place. There are few people who are in the same position as you, who have the same pressures and same frustrations. I am incredibly lucky to have my wife and business partner, Gail, by my side. However, in the early days though, we never had that luxury. As a result, we would pass like ships in the night on the way in and out of the office to cover every hour of the day and night in the office. Any two-man team has to work these crazy hours to build momentum in the early days.


Entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with. We’re passionate and have extraordinary drive, like a dog with a bone! Passion is an essential element of success – whether that’s in business, sport or in your personal life. Whatever your role or vocation, people’s success levels are in direct proportion to their level of passion.

By accident or by design, entrepreneurs all seem to follow this pattern. Is there anything missing from this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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