A Publication of WTVP

There is a set of characteristics that most successful entrepreneurs seem to have in common.

Since September 2009, the 40-plus members of Central Illinois Angels (CIA) have been investing in entrepreneurs. With two additional investments likely to close in the fourth quarter of 2013, CIA will have invested just over $5 million in 15 companies in just over four years.

But to say that CIA is investing in entrepreneurs only tells part of the story. CIA is investing in leaders—along with their accompanying ideas, innovations and teams. These entrepreneurial leaders are charged with being effective at creating and building scalable businesses that reward investors for the risk they are taking. However, the ability to create and build a business is not done by a single entrepreneur, but rather a leader who can build trust and confidence with key stakeholders and effectively communicate with partners and team members both internally and externally.

As noted by Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals in his June 2, 2013 article on, there is a set of principles and characteristics that entrepreneurial leaders from the most successful startups seem to have in common. I agree with Mr. Zwilling that entrepreneurs should look for and nurture these characteristics in their own context to improve their odds of success. I also believe these characteristics are true for leaders across the spectrum—not just for those categorized as “entrepreneurs” or involved with startups. The characteristics noted by Mr. Zwilling are:

Although exhibiting and nurturing the above principles is not an easy task, they are learnable. And I believe that Mr. Zwilling sums it up nicely when he says, “Don’t assume that success as an entrepreneur is only about great presentations, killing competitors or having insanely great ideas. It’s really more about leadership, understanding the needs of your prospective clients, and communicating your solutions with clarity.”

CIA is excited to be entering its fifth year as it continues to grow its membership and look for great leaders at exciting startups. The group would also like to congratulate this year’s class of 40 Leaders Under Forty, and wish you much continued success as you hone your leadership principles. iBi

Dave Parkinson is president of Central Illinois Angels.