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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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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