Scratch that itch

It’s a simple question, really. What makes an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are a unique breed. They differ significantly from professional managers, such as Jack Welch.

That’s not a knock against Welch, who assumed the reins at GE and, over the course of 20 years, transformed it into a global powerhouse. He was a visionary leader who became America’s most admired CEO. But he wasn’t an entrepreneur.

Professional managers are essentially handed a larger, well-established company and tasked by the board of directors with building market share, turning around a troubled enterprise or, in some cases, just keeping the business from crashing into the ground.

An entrepreneur, on the other hand, builds a business from scratch, rarely starting off with more than an idea. Entrepreneurs have that can-do attitude that rubs off on others and gets them to line up and shout, “How high?” Here are four traits that you’ll find in nearly every entrepreneur.

* Risk-taker. Entrepreneurs lay all their money on the table. They aim high and bet big, accepting the fact that the odds are they’ll lose more often than they’ll win. Successful entrepreneurs, however, learn from their mistakes and apply the lessons to their next ventures or initiatives.

* Vision. Visionaries clearly see what they want to accomplish and remain focused on their goals. How many people 20 years ago would have been willing to bet on the guy claiming people would buy $4 cups of coffee? But Howard Schultz did just that when he founded his first Starbucks coffee house. Today, he runs a company with a market cap of more than $21 billion.

* Confidence. Failure is never an option to an entrepreneur. There’s always a solution waiting to be found that results in success. Failure happens, of course, but that’s the down side of taking risks. True entrepreneurs exude a steady, confident attitude that says if they just stick with it, the business will succeed. They have utter faith in their product or service, and never, ever waver.

* Motivator. Because they’re not content with the long process of working their way up at a large company, proving themselves at every level and building legions of believers along the way, entrepreneurs possess the ability to inspire employees, build champions and get the most out of talented rising stars.