THE BLOG
12/11/2014 11:53 am ET Updated Feb 10, 2015

Common Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

What makes a great entrepreneur? Is it good leadership skills? Is it luck? Is it vision? Or is it a great personality? There is no one trait that guarantees success. But there are some common traits that successful entrepreneurs share that differentiates them from the rest -- they are determined, focused, and not afraid to take risks. Many of us have great ideas but few can actually turn them into action.

To launch your own business, you have to take risks. Period. I learned this first-hand when I started my own marketing agency a few years ago. The hardest step was letting go of the known and taking the first leap of faith, but every second of the journey was worth it.

We know of major success stories across all industries and the entrepreneurs who were able to realize their vision, from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, to Virgin's Richard Branson to Spanx's Sara Blakely. One common thread in their stories: They weren't satisfied with the norm, and their passion drove them to seek new horizons and change the status quo.

They are determined
Starting a business has many uncertainties, from economic factors to capital funding to people management, but it's important to keep your eyes on the prize. You must have the perseverance, determination and commitment to stick with your dream.

Early in his career, an editor fired Walt Disney because "he lacked imagination and had no original ideas." It even took him a few tries to get his business off the ground, after his first animation company went bankrupt. Today, thanks to his determination, The Walt Disney Company is a multibillion-dollar leader around the world comprised of several divisions, including media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products.

They're not afraid to take risks
"Most of the reason we don't do things is because we're afraid to fail," says Spanx founder Sara Blakely. "I just made a decision one day that I was not going to do things in my life because of fear."

Blakely left her fears when she put $5,000 behind her idea for footless pantyhose. This paid off: She turned her new business into a multimillion-dollar business. She found a challenge and devised a creative way to overcome a simple obstacle. Blakely has an entrepreneurial mindset, determined to take steps to accomplish her goals.

They never stop learning
Successful entrepreneurs never stop learning. You always have to think of different ways to spark your creativity. Sometimes going outside of your own industry will help you develop an idea. Consumer behavior and tastes change often and you need to stay ahead of the trends to ensure business survival.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, always makes a point of traveling often and meeting as many people as he can. This, he says, is how he came by some of the best suggestions and ideas for his business.

But sometimes you learn from failure as well. When you're faced with failure, you have to start all over again. A key learning from owing my own agency is that you have to be able to manage growth during boom and bust periods. Rapid expansion can lead to some mistakes and you have to be a leader regardless of the tough decisions you will have to make during this time.

They know when to do a digital detox
Running a business could cause you to burn out. Everyone is trying to stay on top of the news, on what's happening on Instagram or watch the latest viral video. Our devices have become one of the biggest distractions in our lives.

Arianna Huffington often speaks about the dangers of technology and why everyone needs a "digital detox." "Did you know that you can have a meal without Instagramming it? I discovered a lot of things," said Huffington of a family trip to Hawaii earlier this year. "You can also watch a sunset without Instagramming it."

It's important to sometimes disconnect from all technology. Successful people are able to separate themselves from their phone and focus. Or simply to enjoy the moment.

As you see, every story is unique in its own way, but there are valuable things to learn from the journeys -- and traits -- of others. Knowing the most common traits of successful entrepreneurs is a good start -- while these traits don't guarantee success, they can give you an edge. How many do you have and how many can you develop over time?