The ten requirements of successful entrepreneurs


I gave a talk this week to a startup program at GA Tech called GT Startup Summer. Thanks @sanjay for inviting me!

The group was filled with a lot of first time entrepreneurs, so I decided to target my talk on the things that I have learned in my 15 years of being an entrepreneur that seem to have helped me, and others, reach success.

I started the talk by telling them that there is good news and bad news. The good news is, it matters very little what their current idea is for their startup, because EVERYTHING IS DEPENDENT ON THEM PERSONALLY. Then I told them that the bad news was the same…it matters very little what their current idea is, EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THEM.

As I walked through my story, starting in the dorm room at UNC-Charlotte and ending up at Dragon Army, I pointed to the list that I had written on the whiteboard behind me to help emphasize to them the personal characteristics they would need to succeed.

The ten requirements of successful entrepreneurs

1. You must be all in. This is what forced me, at 22, to be “all in” on my first company.

2. You must have a never-say-die attitude. Even if it takes this to stay alive.

3. You must FOCUS.

4. You must find your personal strength. We all have a superpower. Find yours.

5. You must be able to delegate.

6. You must find and nurture mentors.

7. You must always be learning.

8. You must embrace change. Or, said differently, you must be ready to be punched in the face.

9. You must remain humble alone the journey.

10. You must control your runway.


  1. The Key to a Career Change In One Word on July 24, 2015 at 9:02 am

    […] Jeff Hilimire says in a related post to new entrepreneurs on their startup […]

  2. Bradley Wagner on August 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Nice post Jeff. I’m curious if you believe, as an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with going into personal debt. This has been a big deterrent among people I know that I believe are otherwise cut out to be entrepreneurs. Obviously there are alternatives and other best-case scenarios but do you feel like that willingness to go into debt is demonstrative of the appropriate level of risk appetite? Do you think it’s possible to have the drive and determination to be successful but stop short of being willing to take on large amounts of personal debt?

  3. […] BW asked this question on my recent blog post, Ten Requirements of Successful Entrepreneurs: […]

  4. Jeff Hilimire on August 14, 2015 at 6:56 am

  5. Bradley Wagner on August 14, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for the thoughtful response Jeff!

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