I am often asked these questions by aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business: What do I need to do to be successful? Where can I receive help? What resources are there? Who can guide me? How do I find money? Do I need a business plan?

Time after time, I hear similar thoughts from hundreds of individuals with the desire to launch a business. Just this morning, I received a call from a fellow who needs help. Unfortunately, and all too often, I don’t have the time to sit down with everyone individually to provide adequate answers to their inquiries. With this in mind, over the next few weeks I will write articles to answer most of these questions, plus many more that will assist someone who is ready to take a leap of faith.

Please know that I am by no means the only mentor in town who might be willing to answer business questions. There are literally scores of successful business owners in Utah who could teach the right principles. With this in mind, I will humbly approach this opportunity to share with you what I have learned from more than 40 years as a businessman, angel investor and venture capitalist.

The theme of each article will be an element of the 12 key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. Each week I will address one of these important attributes. Today, I will provide a brief overview of each one.

1. Follow your dream. All successful entrepreneurs have an idea they want to pursue. They see an opportunity to solve a consumer or business need. Many people have a great idea but never get off the couch to make it a reality.

2. Take the risk. Winners understand and take the measured risks associated with launching a business that may include loss of money, possible failure and health.

3. Make the sacrifice. Those who start and grow a business will give up many personal benefits to be successful. Sacrifice will include time, relationships and other opportunities.

4. Be persistent. Great entrepreneurs never give up. They never stop trying. They somehow overcome every obstacle and barrier.

5. Know your customer. Successful entrepreneurs know the needs of their customers. They know everything about them. They know what they want, when, where and at what price.

6. Sell to survive and prosper. Winners know how to sell their products or services. They know how to find, engage and close a sale from customers, over and over again.

7. Take care of your customers. Great entrepreneurs value their customers and go out of their way to take good care of them.

8. Hire the right employees. Winners know how to find, select, hire, train, motivate, reward and retain great employees.

9. Value your employees. They also know how to keep employees happy and productive.

10. Establish a winning culture. They have established a positive culture that inspires and motivates workers.

11. Call upon mentors. They call upon individuals with experience, skills and a network to guide them.

12. Communicate constantly. They regularly communicate with employees, vendors, investors, suppliers and customers about what’s happening in the business.

Over the next few months, I will write an in-depth article on each one of the above topics every week. I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned and practiced.

In addition to these future articles, I also invite anyone interested in starting a business, growing an existing business or improving business skills to visit a free website developed by a terrific team of business experts. The website, known as www.doobizz.com, was created to educate and guide individuals needing business assistance.

Do you have a question? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is the Chairman of the Utah Technology Council.