What Is a Self Starter? Definition, Attributes and Examples
What Is a Self Starter? Definition, Attributes and Examples

What Is a Self Starter? Definition, Attributes and Examples

What Is a Self Starter?

Simply put, a self starter is an individual who is able to think and work for themselves.

Self starters are able to set goals for themselves, rather than relying on continuous input from supervisors and managers. They work independently and use their initiative to achieve the goals they have set.

A self starter might also use their initiative to develop new skills and undertake training to increase their knowledge and expertise.

This could mean requesting to be considered for training programs through their employer or taking courses online and in-person during their free time.

Why Are Self Starters Sought After?

There are a number of reasons why companies like to employ self starters.


Because a self starter is less likely to need input from supervisors, managers and co-workers, they can work more efficiently. Rather than needing to wait for someone else to suggest a solution to a problem, they problem-solve for themselves and use their initiative.


Self starters are driven by their own success. They gain satisfaction from starting and completing projects.

When issues occur, they enjoy the process of solving problems for themselves.

No Substantial Supervision Required

Because of their nature, self starters don’t require a lot of supervision.

This is beneficial for companies, as the management team are able to focus their attention on the business rather than needing to constantly oversee staff members.


Having an employee who is able to work efficiently and without the need for hand-holding can bring positive change for other employees.

When their co-workers see that someone can produce results and find solutions to problems, they are more likely to think outside of the box themselves.

This creates positive momentum within the company as a whole because more and more employees want to see the same kind of success.

What Is a Self Starter? Definition, Attributes and Examples
What Is a Self Starter? Definition, Attributes and Examples

Self Starter Qualities and How to Model Them

It is possible for anyone to become a self starter, although it might be easier for those who are naturally more independent.

Understanding the qualities of a self starter can help you practice them in real-world scenarios.

As with all habits, the more you practice the skills of a self starter, the more natural they will begin to feel.


It is common for self starters to have a single-minded focus on the goals that they want to achieve. They gain satisfaction from achieving their targets and making visible progress.

How to Become More Goal-Focused

If being goal-focused doesn’t come naturally to you, there are a few things you can do to help develop the skill. For example, setting yourself small targets with suitable rewards can help to motivate you towards reaching them.

This could be something as simple as saying that when you have completed a piece of work, you will get a coffee from your favorite store.

Gradually, you will be able to make the targets bigger, as you'll know that you will reward yourself after they are completed.

Treating Challenges as Growth Opportunities

One of the best skills that a self starter has is the ability to view situations in a positive way. They consider other options that would help to resolve problems rather than dwelling on a setback.

When something occurs that could be considered a setback, a self starter will look at the problem as something that can help them grow. This could be through learning new skills, collaborating with different people or learning to approach a problem from an alternative angle.

All of these things show a growth mindset.

How to Treat Challenges More as Growth Opportunities

Some people are more naturally positive than others. If you struggle to consider the positives that can come from a negative, you will need to work on seeing how a challenge can become a growth opportunity.

You can start developing this skill by brainstorming possible solutions when you come across a problem. For example, if you find you are struggling with the software required for a task, you might need to consider courses and training programs that could make your life easier.

Using Initiative

Self starters don’t usually ask for help from others around them. They don’t require a lot of input from managers or supervisors and use their initiative to decide how to make progress.

How to Develop Initiative

It can sometimes be tricky to know how to develop initiative. But it is possible.

For example, if you are unsure how to reach a goal, try brainstorming to reach possible solutions. The more that you do this, the easier it will become.


Self starters are generally ambitious individuals. They dream of progressing and gaining recognition for their hard work.

They are also able to see the bigger picture, identifying the steps that they need to take to get a promotion or dream job.

How to Develop Ambition

If you aren’t sure how to develop ambition, it can be useful to write down what you would like to be doing as your dream role.

Once you have decided where you want to be in the future, consider the steps you will need to take to get there. Set each small step as a target and let the achievement fuel your desire to progress further.

For example, a self-employed person might dream of being able to retire early. To do this, they will need to decide how much money they will need saved in a retirement fund. This figure can then be broken down into smaller annual or monthly amounts, with a list of ideas as to how they plan to reach each figure.

Gradually, as they see the progress, they will become more motivated and ambitious on their journey.

Focus on Success

Self starters are usually focused on creating and building on success. This is sometimes called a 'growth mindset'.

This can be in the form of achieving promotions, accomplishing tasks or completing projects. This focus helps to make them single-minded in their approach to work, valuing their success above all else.

How to Become More Focused on Success

If you struggle to focus on success or feel deflated when obstacles occur, it can help to break down projects, tasks and challenges into smaller tasks. Each of these can be completed and contributes towards the larger goal.

Completing these smaller projects can build your confidence and allows you to develop the skills you will need to find solutions to any bigger problems you might face.

If you are still feeling unsure about how to develop a success mindset, consider asking someone you admire to mentor you. You will be able to learn from them and develop the skills they have used to contribute to their success.


Part of being able to be a self starter will involve having a certain level of confidence. This confidence enables them to work in a self-sufficient way, confident in their own skills and ability to solve solutions without outside help. They will also be confident in the path that they have chosen for themselves and determined to succeed.

How to Develop Confidence

If you are not naturally a confident person, it can seem impossible to build this skill. But, it is possible.

A lot of confidence comes from mindset. One of the best ways of beating the self-doubt and that feeling of imposter syndrome is to take courses and tutorials that help to build your overall skill set.

The more you know, the better prepared you will be to deal with a situation. If you have studied a task, software or business practice thoroughly, you will be less likely to need input from others.

A slightly more controversial way of building confidence is the ‘fake it 'til you make it’ method. This principle works on the idea that if you pretend you are feeling confident about something, this will gradually become the way you genuinely feel.

Final Thoughts

Having the ability to think for yourself, find solutions to issues and work toward goals without needing to ask for advice from superiors will make you an asset wherever you work.

If these skills don’t come naturally to you, practice them wherever you can. You will be able to act more instinctively and develop the characteristics that will make you a valued asset, no matter what business you work in.

All self-starter skills are transferable. You will be able to take what you learn into any industry, secure in the knowledge you can work well without continuous input from your superiors.

You may also find that being able to work as a self starter means you can gain more recognition and appreciation from your employers. They will see that you are thinking for yourself and growing your skills through continuous learning and problem-solving.

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