How entrepreneurial attitudes and motivations influence business success

Are there specific entrepreneurial attitudes and motivations that influence business success? For investors, founders, business leaders and boards alike this is the million or even billion-dollar question.

A world-first 15-year qualitative and quantitative study completed in 2013 by Founder and CEO of Fingerprint for Success, Michelle Duval has discovered some answers to this big question above:

  1. Work attitudes that distinguish successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the population. 
  2. Attitudes that correlate with venture success and failure.
  3. Correlations between specific attitudes and profitability, business sustainability and longevity. 
  4. How venture success can increase through founder/CEO self-evaluation and application of findings. 

There is much more that this study has discovered which I am happy to share with you in the white paper here. The great news is that these secrets of success are published for you to bring to your awareness and apply right now to support your success. 

The human factor in venture failure

The study found statistically significant differences in the attitudes and motivations of the highest performing entrepreneurs and business builders in the study, contrasted with a sample of those who experienced business failure and bankruptcy.

Successful early stage venture founders in comparison to those who experienced business failure have:

  • +27% more motivation for personal or organisational power
  • +24% greater preference for abstract global thinking and communicating
  • +21% more energy to initiate and start things off
  • +20% more focus on money (P&L, margins, forecasting, budgets)

Successful mature stage in comparison to those who experienced business failure are:

  • +36% more convinced by hearing a presentation or feedback
  • +20% more motivated by goals and targets
  • +14% more convinced by reading reports, emails or research
  • +11% more driven to achieve


A motivation for power is a significant finding in distinguishing an entrepreneur’s motivations from the rest of the working population and is correlated with venture success, and also found to correlate with the number of successful business exits.

The human factor in venture failure

There were three statistically significant attitudes and motivations that have a relationship to failure:

Entrepreneurs: Preference for structure, planning and organisation is correlated with failure

Those who failed in early stage ventures were found to have on average:

  • +24% higher preference for structure and planning
  • +22% higher focus on systems
  • +21% higher focus on details

Business Builders: Higher preference for scepticism prevents founders being confident and convinced

Those who failed in mature stage ventures were found to have on average: 

  • +26% higher preference for scepticism in decision making
  • +20% higher focus on affective communication
  • +14% higher need for change in their functions every 3-18 months


Many things that lead to venture failure are beyond the control of the business owner: lack of interest from the market or external factors like the fluctuations of the economy. But all things being equal, knowing that there are also hidden factors impacting business failure means that investors and business owners can anticipate and take measures to reduce the possibility of business failure. See Section 6 (p 24) for examples of business owners adapting. 

Excerpt from “Can Entrepreneurial Success be Predicted? by Fingerprint for Success Founder & CEO Michelle Duval, 2016.