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Enterprise & Freelancing: Skills and Personality

a guide to starting your own business or setting up on your own

Enterprise & Freelancing

Skills and Personality

The kind of traits and skills that are useful in this field


  • You are in charge. You have complete responsibility for what you do and how you do it
  • Hours can be flexible
  • Taking a new product/service/idea to market is exciting and you could make a lot of money


  • Risks are high, and there is the possibility of failure
  • You'll probably work longer, and unsocial, hours and it's harder to get time off
  • You lose the security of a monthly wage
  • You will need to keep records of everything, do your own taxes, chase for payments (and work)

Good News

Recent research argues that the self-employed experience fewer negative emotions than the employed. It argues that being self-employed actually prepares you to cope better with the fear and anxiety that might be faced.

Full Report

Six Personality Traits

The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute found six dimensions that characterise successful small business owners:

  1. Collaborative - don't micro-manage every detail, but delegate effectively and build strong relationships with staff and customers
  2. Self-fulfilled - they value the self-determination and personal fulfillment that owning their own business brings
  3. Future-focused - keep their eye on the prize at all times, and are looking at short and long term solutions
  4. Curious - always looking to improve, and open to innovation wherever they find it
  5. Tech-savvy - recognise the value of technology for efficiency and reaching new markets. Always looking to new developments
  6. Action orientated - being proactive and taking the initiative to move things on. View adversity as a spur to do better

Full report (pdf)

Holland Personality Types

The Holland Code classifies people and work environments into 6 types: Realistic; Investigative; Artistic; Social; Enterprising; Conventional. Entrepreneur is classified as ESA, where Enterprising would be the strongest influence, followed by Social and then Artistic:

  • Enterprising (Persuader) - You are self-confident, assertive, persuasive, energetic, optimistic, spontaneous. You can initiate projects, lead a group, be good at selling (ideas or things). You like to make decisions, and power/status may be important to you
  • Social (Helper) - You can be friendly, idealistic, outgoing, generous, cooperative. You can teach/train others and express yourself clearly. You like to work in groups and help people get on
  • Artistic (Creator) - You might be creative, innovative, independent, courageous, non-conforming. You like to express yourself creatively and deal with ambiguous ideas

More on Holland Codes (pdf) from the Missouri University Career Center


Balancing on the Invisible

Personality & Skills

  • Excellent communication skills (to persuade others and sell your vision)
  • Management skills (time and people)
  • Self-motivated
  • Adaptability
  • Perseverence
  • Willing to take risks
  • Financial literacy (specific skills in book-keeping and tax would be useful)

Taken from the UK Centre for Bioscience, which has an extensive list of entrepreneurial skills