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Great entrepreneurs and business builders share four defining traits: Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck. While the traits are configured differently across individuals, their presence is consistent across leaders of all types and sizes of organizations.

Heart-dominant individuals are driven by purpose and passion. They may lack data, experience, or even a business plan, but their all-consuming determination to translate vision into reality makes them formidable — and often highly successful. While Heart by itself is not enough to launch a great business, few entrepreneurs can succeed without it. It is what gives a venture meaning and sets it apart from the competition.

The big ideas that come from Heart-dominant people are shaped into rational, disciplined, strategically focused enterprises by those who are Smarts-dominant. Fact-driven and analytical, Smarts-dominant leaders have the ability to capture, frame, and extend the essence of the business. There are four different types of Smarts:

  1. Book Smarts (IQ and innate intellectual ability).

  2. People Smarts (relationship-building skills).

  3. Street Smarts (experience and common sense).

  4. Creative Smarts (inventiveness and ability to think out of the box).

The common thread tying them together is a highly developed capacity for pattern recognition. Smarts-dominant individuals can perceive and connect ideas, trends, and other patterns better than others and translate them into actionable plans.

Guts-dominant leaders are unafraid to act even without assurance of a desired outcome. Some are risk takers who thrive on high-stakes adventure. Others are risk tolerators, good at understanding, accepting, and managing the risks inherent in uncertain situations. Those whose guts are episodic are able to make tough decisions on their feet; others have longitudinal guts, characterized by resilience and perseverance. Both types of guts are critical at different points in a business life cycle.

Luck is fundamentally beyond an individual’s control. But Luck-dominant people maintain a distinctive attitude and network that increase their receptiveness to luck. Always open to new people and knowledge, willing to question their own assumptions, and relentlessly optimistic, those who are Luck-dominant help to create their own good fortune.

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