How To Be An Entrepreneur

How to be an entrepreneur

Recently on  my podcast, listener Paul Vandermill asked, “Can becoming an entrepreneur be a progression rather than a predisposition?”  Really, are entrepreneurs born, or do those traits develop over time?

I love that question.  Is a person just born an entrepreneur or can anyone learn to be successful on their own?  There is no “right” or “wrong” about being an entrepreneur.  But you need to ask yourself if it is a fit for you.  Here’s an overview.

Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?

Do you have what it takes to do something on your own – to create work that is purposeful, fulfilling, and profitable? And please dismiss the idea that you must be a hard-driving-in-your-face kind of person to be in “business” for yourself. You may never have a building, employees, or inventory, yet still be a great candidate to move away from the traditional “employee” model.

Over the years, I have identified a number of traits that are strong predictors of a person’s success in his or her own business. The more “yes” answers you have to the questions below, the more likely you have what it takes to run your own business. Each of the eighteen questions is followed by a statement of why that particular trait is important.

Step 1: How To Become an Entrepreneur
Take the Entrepreneur Readiness Quiz

1. Are you a self-starter?

Successful business owners are always making things happen. They don’t wait around for the phone to ring or to be told what to do next.

2. Do you get along with different kinds of people?

Every business, even small ones, requires contact with a variety of people: customers, suppliers, bankers, printers, etc.

3. Do you have a positive outlook?

Optimism and a sense of humor are critical factors for success. You have to view setbacks and small failures as stepping stones to your eventual success.

4. Are you able to make decisions?

Procrastination is the main obstacle to good decision-making. In a successful business, important decisions are made on a daily basis. Eighty percent of decisions should be made right away.

5. Are you able to accept responsibility?

If you typically blame others, the company, the government, or your spouse for what goes wrong, you are probably a poor candidate for running your own business. Successful business owners accept responsibility for results even if those results are not favorable.

6. Do you enjoy competition?

You don’t have to be cutthroat, but you must enjoy the thrill of competition. You must have a strong desire to compete, even against your own accomplishments of yesterday.

7. Do you have willpower and self-discipline?

Self-discipline is the one key characteristic that makes all these others work. Without it you will not succeed.

8. Do you plan ahead?

Every successful businessperson develops a long-term perspective. Going into business with a detailed plan dramatically increases the likelihood of business success. If you are already a goal-setter, you are more likely to succeed on your own. To help you plan ahead and develop a business plan, click here to get access to the 48 Days Business Planning Guide.

9. Can you take advice from others?

Being in your own business does not mean you have all the answers. Being open to the wisdom and experience of others is the hallmark characteristic of a leader. People who are willing to listen spend more time doing what works the first time, rather than having to experience every mistake.

10. Are you adaptable to changing conditions?

Change is constant in today’s marketplace. In every change there are the seeds of opportunity, thus successful people view change as an opportunity, not as a threat.

11. Can you stick with it?

Most new ventures do not take off as quickly as we would like. Are you prepared to make at least a one-year commitment to this business no matter how bleak it may look at times? Will you continue even if your friends tell you to throw in the towel?

12. Do you have a high level of confidence and belief in what you are doing?

This is no time for doubt or second thoughts. You must absolutely believe in what you are doing. If you don’t have total belief, you will not be able to sell the idea, product, or service to investors or customers. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can do something well you don’t really believe in.

13. Do you enjoy what you are going to do?

Don’t ever think you can be successful doing something just for monetary rewards. Ultimately, you must get a sense of meaning and satisfaction from what you are doing. So only consider those ideas about which you are totally passionate.

14. Can you sell yourself and your ideas?

Many people fail with a great product or service because they can’t sell. Nobody will beat a path to your door even if you do have a better mousetrap. Those days are gone. You will need to sell constantly. 

I hear from a lot of people that they don’t like to sell or can’t sell. But you need to take a look at what selling really is and how everyone must sell (if only yourself). Check out this podcast: Selling is not taking advantage of people, rather it’s a great way of serving them well.

15. Are you prepared to work long hours?

Few businesses are immediately successful. Most require months or years of long hours to get them going. It’s like getting a plane off the ground. A great deal of energy is required at first, but once you are in the air, it takes less energy to keep moving. Businesses are very much the same.

16. Do you have the physical and emotional energy to run a business?

Operating your own business can be more draining than working for someone else because you have to make all the decisions and probably do all the work (initially, at least).

17. Do you have the support of your family and/or spouse?

Without support at home, your chances of success are dramatically reduced. Doubt and misgivings can creep in too easily. Find out more on this podcast with my wife Joanne Miller: The Choices We Make.

18. Are you willing to risk your own money in this venture?

If you’re not, you probably question your confidence in the venture and your commitment to it. No bank or outside lender will be willing to take a risk that you are not willing to back it with everything you have.

More and more people are looking for greater control of their destinies and for the freedom that having their own business allows. Make sure you match your personal skills with the proper business choice. Click To Tweet

Your work must integrate your skills, your personality tendencies, and your interests.

That may seem simple and obvious, but it is amazing how often those principles are violated. The more you know and understand about yourself and match that up with your business direction, the more you exponentially increase your chances for success. Find out more about personality styles here.

So now – are you an entrepreneur? 

Are these characteristics that you have or are learning? If not, then hold your head high and be a great employee.  There’s no shame in that – it’s just a different model that requires a different set of skills.

Keep in mind that being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean you are running or building your business full-time. There are many, many people who start with a side business and then build from there. Investing 15 hours per week can really build a foundation for your business. And then, when you are earning enough from your business, you can let go of your day job (note: this also helps with spousal support, going back to #17 above).

Learn more on this podcast: Can I really build my side business with only 15 hours per week?

Starting your business as a side business will also help you with start-up money. I get 8-10 inquiries per week from people needing start-up money.  People want to know how to borrow from the bank, get venture capital or grant funding, or how to launch a Kickstarter campaign.  Capital is always difficult to find – especially with businesses that many of us are starting that tend to use service, information or technology.  So, does that mean it’s impossible to launch a great idea?  Absolutely not!! Read more in my blog: If only I had the money to start my own business.

The next two questions I get from entrepreneurs are these:

How do I figure out what kind of business to start?

What is it you are passionate enough about that you would love to make money doing it (and would even do it for FREE?).

No matter what work you do or who you are working for, it ultimately comes back to our own power to recognize what is a good fit for us. 85% of the process of finding the work you love comes by looking inward first. Click To Tweet

So, start with identifying your:

  • God-given skills & abilities – what are some things that you do well. Can you teach, organize, supervise, plan, develop systems, sing, construct, etc.? If you have trouble coming up with these, ask 3 to 5 friends or family members for their input. Ask yourself why someone would hire you. What have you done to bring value to others? What makes you remarkable?
  • Values, dreams, and passions – to identify these, remember back to meaningful times in your growing up years. Think back to activities, times or events when you felt a great sense of happiness and personal accomplishment. Remember, this is a process of discovery.
    Ask yourself these questions as well:
    – What is it that you find naturally enjoyable?
    – If money were not important, what would you spend your time doing?
    – When do you find the time just flying by?
  • Your Unique Personality Style – start with listing the adjectives that best describe you.  Creative, Theoretical, Studious, Analytical, Expressive, Verbal, Adventurous, Dominant, Cheerful, Playful, Solemn, Outgoing, Calm, Logical, Etc. Take a Personality Assessment is often the best way to really get a firm understanding of your own personality style, what really motivates you and what can trigger negative behavior and stress for you. Find out more about the personality assessment here.

In turn, you’ll see clear patterns form that point you toward successful career decisions. For more, check out The Entrepreneurial Start Up Kit. It will help you gain focus and lay out a clear plan of action to build your business from the ground-up, or take you to the next level in your existing entrepreneurial endeavor.

How do I figure out the logistics of running a business?

Now that you know what kind of business you want to start or grow, how in the world do you make a business around it?

Are you completely frazzled thinking about the logistics of it all, and how to even set up a business?

The key components of any business plan are:

  • Description of Business
  • The Market
  • Management & Personnel
  • Ownership Structure
  • Financial Data & Plan

Download your free Business Planning Guide from our worksheets list and go through it step by step.

Check out 48 Days Eagles, a community of entrepreneurs and coaches that offers solutions, including:

  • Business leadership, guidance & mentoring
  • A like-minded community of your peers – others cheering you on
  • Up-to-date technology to give you a professional look and functionality
  • Resources that are effective and affordable

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it. The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, poet and essayist


Points from Chapter 11 (Being the Boss You Always Wanted to Have) in the 10th Anniversary Edition of 48 Days to the Work You Love

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