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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Personality Traits and Entrepreneurship - Have you considered these characteristics? Part 1

Which behaviors and traits are more frequently associated with effective leadership? As an entrepreneur, have you considered which characteristics might impact your effectiveness the most? This sounds like that $1M question we all wish we could have a perfect answer to! The good news is that research indicates that five traits explain 53% of the variance in leader emergence and 39% of the variance in leader effectiveness.[1] Given that leadership is an essential ability of entrepreneurs, the more we understand what impacts good leadership, the more we can develop our entrepreneurial skills. In Part 1 of this two-part series, we will focus our discussion on two of the Big Five personality traits and their relevance to entrepreneurs.

What are the Big Five Personality Traits?

The Big Five are five broad categories of personality traits that reflect the human personality and account for individual differences. They are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Each of the five traits represents a range between two extremes. Most people lie somewhere along the continuum between the two ends of each dimension. In part 1 of this blog, we will focus on Openness and Conscientiousness.


Openness is a quality that incorporates elements of imagination and understanding, among other things. This personality trait is characterized by curiosity, a strong interest in the outside world and in other people, and a desire to learn and experience new things. Consequently, it results in having a diverse variety of interests and being more daring when it comes to making decisions.

Creativity also plays a significant role in the openness attribute. Individuals who are more open to abstract and lateral thinking will feel more comfortable with change and motivated to search for new solutions to existing problems.

If someone scores low on this attribute, they are likely to prefer more traditional approaches to life, including a higher level of resistance to change and a preference for an established routine. This type of individual may struggle when it comes to problem-solving outside their area of expertise. This is not the typical profile of an entrepreneur.

Openness and Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs commonly receive a high openness score as they are eager to learn new abilities and techniques. This is not surprising as entrepreneurs have the reputation of being trailblazers.

When confronted with difficulties, individuals who score high in Openness are more likely to come up with abstract and creative answers and may handle new problems that might have gone unnoticed in the past. Entrepreneurs will highly benefit from a more open attitude to life in general.

Some food for thought:

  • “Are you open to trying new experiences?”

  • “Do you find yourself concentrating on building upon new ideas more than consolidating structures that are already in place?”


Conscientiousness is a personality trait that includes high levels of thoughtfulness, and describes a person’s ability to control their good impulse in order to engage in goal-directed behaviors.[2] A highly conscientious person will regularly plan ahead and analyze their own behavior to see how it affects others.

People strong in Conscientiousness like to organize around certain dates and events and are focused on completing tasks. Individuals low in conscientiousness tend to dislike structure and schedules, procrastinate on or even fail to complete important tasks. They tend to be rather impulsive and can even be regarded as disorganized and careless.

Conscientiousness and Entrepreneurs

Conscientiousness can be a challenge for some entrepreneurs. While most are adaptable to high-pressure situations, others can also fail to follow processes that may help them achieve their goals more quickly. This stems from the fact that entrepreneurs are usually forward-thinking and tend to get tunnel vision onto a concept or idea for a business. Some fail to consider other aspects of planning and implementation that may affect the venture itself or those around them.

Entrepreneurs can find themselves working much longer hours due to a lack of planning to meet deadlines and may require more help to stick to timelines. If you score low in this trait, you will probably need to put more effort into concentration, time, and attention to get things done. As processes and procedures are valuable to any business looking to scale, failing to address these issues can leave new ventures vulnerable to instability.

One possible solution is to pair up with others who score high on conscientiousness. This way, you will find a balance that will contribute to innovating while at the same time operating within a more structured business environment. In addition, this combination will possibly bring about much faster increases in business success.

Some food for thought:

  • “Do you tend to plan ahead and to be more organized, or are you less structured in terms of business processes?”

  • “Are you self-disciplined and achievement-oriented, or do you tend to leave tasks unfinished?”

  • “Have you thought about the balance of strengths in your team?”

Want to find out how you would score in the Big Five personality traits? Click here to access the following link: The Big Five Project - Personality Test (


The concepts of Openness and Conscientiousness are certainly important areas of investigation for entrepreneurs. Understanding these characteristics can provide you with a more informed baseline for your professional development, as well as selecting the right people for your team. It also contributes to forming more balanced work teams, which will enhance the chances of business success.

Have you identified with any of the characteristics described in this blog post? How do you counterbalance the areas you still need to develop on your entrepreneurial journey? What would you add to the points made in this blog post? Leave a comment below or send us an email at

Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. In addition, she possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: a qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 765-780. [2] Grohol, J. M. (2019, May 30). The Big Five Personality Traits. PsychCentral. Retrieved 10 June 2020, from

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