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What characteristics appear consistently as components of successful entrepreneurs and their firms? Experienced incubator managers have identified eight habits that seem particularly critical to company success. Use "the great eight" to provide clients with an entrepreneurial reality check.

The great eight: Incubator managers reveal eight characteristics that form the personalities of the most successful incubated firms

by Meredith Erlewine

June 1999

Passion: The American Heritage College Dictionary defines it as "a powerful emotion, such as love, joy anger," or "boundless enthusiasm." That just about sums up the average day or restless night of an entrepreneur. But passion is more than a reactionary set of emotions. In fact, many incubator managers consider it to be a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success.

As small businesses command an increasingly larger share of the global marketplace, more and more people are studying the entrepreneurial process. Business professors, Fortune 500 CEOs and incubator managers alike all want to understand what's making these successful firms tick and to somehow systemize the process.

NBIA recently queried member incubator managers on this subject, asking two broad questions: What characteristics have you observed, time and again, to be components of successful entrepreneurs and their firms? And what characteristics repeatedly rear their ugly heads in firms that ultimately fail? Not surprisingly, the answers were opposite sides of one coin. Certain characteristics were described repeatedly as contributors to success; the lack of those very same characteristics consistently described firms that failed.

The results of our poll and follow-up are presented below, distilled into eight habits incubator managers identified as critical to company success. These characteristics have helped experienced incubator CEOs decide which applicants to admit to their incubators and which to send back to the drawing board, and have served as benchmarks for developing curricula and mentoring programs. The characteristics might seem simple at first glance, but after you consider the implications of each, you may want to use them to provide clients with an entrepreneurial reality check.

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Keywords: benchmarking clients, coaching clients

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