What makes an entrepeneurial mindset? The term entrepreneur is most definitely a trending one, a 2016/17 buzzword if you prefer. Perhaps this is to be expected with recent entrepreneurial monitors showing that more people than ever before want to start their own business (the West of England LEP response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper highlighted that there are 61 enterprises per 1000 residents in the region), and a record number of enterprises created in 2016.

“What are the key characteristics the most successful early stage growth entrepreneur’s exhibit?”


The key problem facing all of these new business owners is making their early stage business a success. I would argue that this comes down to the person behind the business, so what are the key characteristics the most successful early stage growth entrepreneur’s exhibit?

I have been working with early stage, growth-minded entrepreneurs for the last 20 months through the Entrepreneurial Spark powered by NatWest accelerator programme, as well as in the broader ecosystem for NatWest (and yes, my name really is Matt West). There are three core characteristics which I believe set apart those entrepreneurs most likely to create success and achieve their ‘super-vision’.


There is no such thing as a successful shy entrepreneur – but they can be humbly confident. In order to grow their business from just a gem of an idea to a sustainable early stage entity the entrepreneur at the heart of the business needs to ‘get out there’.

“Somebody who is proud of what they have created will take every opportunity presented to them”


This comes down to being ‘opportunity hungry’ and showing willingness to meet new people and talk about their proposition. This includes validation of the initial idea through to value-add then PR opportunities. Somebody who is proud of what they have created will take every opportunity presented to them, but also will seek new opportunities to continuously develop what they do.

The term pride also means knowing when you are not the best person for the job any longer. This self-awareness allows a successful entrepreneur to realise that in order to deliver the best outcome for their business and their customer they have to find somebody else to do a certain task or role.

Recognising and acting upon this is something that entrepreneurs should take great pride in. When the business takes on its first member of staff it can sometimes be a personal blow to the entrepreneur to hand over control of certain functions. But it demonstrates that the entrepreneur is proud enough of their business to take the step necessary to allow their business to develop further.


My biggest personal learning from the last 20 months is that people don’t necessarily buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. The key thing that stands out here is the concept of YOU.

In an early stage business there is little or no devolution between the owner and the business – they are always on, 24/7. The reason why people are all-in is because they have to make this business achieve and/or they truly believe that they can make a difference to their customers. This is passion.

If you can’t relate to this, as you have never been a business owner or investor, think of it like a blossoming relationship. If you don’t possess a desire or passion to get to know somebody further, you won’t want to commit extra time or money to carry on the relationship.

Business owners who are passionate are constantly striving to meet new people who can help them to grow their business; they are developing a relevant network in their field and truly valuing the input of mentors and people who have been-there-done-that. They are also constantly re-imagining their offering in order to better serve their customers, because they are passionate about trying to make their business work) for themselves, society and their customers.


The same adage again, people don’t buy the what, they buy the why. This is your purpose. Simon Sinek in his now infamous TED talk said ‘all great leaders in the world think and act in the same way…they start with their why’, which means that they all have a vision which they are working towards and holding themselves accountable against. On top of this, they also create a followership based on this vision.

Even as an individual, not just a business owner, if you understand your purpose when presented with an opportunity, you can quickly determine whether this is a worthwhile opportunity which would contribute to taking you a step closer to your vision. I understand that there are far more variables at play which affect a decision, but in a ‘no shades of grey world’ decisions could be made in this way.

Mix and match

These three characteristics of a successful entrepreneur do not operate in isolation, but flow one from the other. If you are passionate about a problem and make it your purpose to solve that problem, then as long as you stay true to yourself and your brand you can create something which you are proud of.

You can find out more about the entrepreneur programmes Matt is involved with at the Entrepreneurial Spark website. For more information and to stay up-to-date on the incubator’s latest news, you can follow them on Twitter here: @ESparkGlobal