The term “entrepreneur” has been around for a long time. Becoming or being one, though, is not something people consciously did up until recently.
In the past, you might start a business. But today you can be the type of person who starts businesses. The difference is subtle yet important. With the fame of people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington, and others, entrepreneurship has captured the American imagination. People now find themselves looking at founders and evaluating if they themselves have what it takes to be one. If this is you, don’t worry—we’re here to help!
Here are ten signs you have the characteristics of an entrepreneur.
1. You are Passionate
Passion is one of if not the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur. There are many reasons for this. Mainly, you'll have to work extremely hard to be successful. Without passion, you are likely to burn out and quit before being successful.
Many people misunderstand the traditional adages about the importance of loving what you do. Yes, enjoying your profession is inherently valuable. But it’s also valuable in that, without passion, excellence is nearly impossible. It is, in other words, so much easier for a founder to create a technology business if he/she loves technology. And it’s so much easier for a restaurant founder to create a new eatery if he/she loves food.
The advantage that comes with passion is enormous. That is why it is so critically important for founders to spend time determining what they truly like and dislike. If you pick something you enjoy, you are much more likely to be successful.
2. You are Comfortable Working Alone
The image of the entrepreneur is that of a man or woman in a board room surrounded by subordinates, or perhaps, up on stage, giving a product demo like Steve Jobs. The reality, however, is far less glamorous. The majority of work that founders do, especially in the beginning, is done alone and in isolation.
Being uncomfortable working alone and or in isolation is a very bad quality for potential entrepreneurs. If you constantly need to surround yourself with people you may not be cut out for this. Why? Because starting a business requires plenty of thought and concentration which can only be achieved in the peace and quiet of isolated thinking. That, plus the fact that (especially in the beginning) being a founder means doing loads of time-consuming research, filling out paperwork, creating business plans, and doing other naturally independent types of work. Many of these things are done by yourself when starting a building.
3. You Value Ongoing Education
Entrepreneurs sit at the head of their companies. As such, they need to be constantly learning. Nothing kills a company faster than stagnation in how its management thinks and acts.
Another reason why valuing ongoing education is an important characteristic has to do with the fact that an entrepreneur is (or should be) naturally curious people. And naturally curious people do not want to stagnate or stop learning. They are always encountering new things and new people that compel them and make them want to explore and look into new information (such as finding resources for starting an online marketplace).
Ongoing education doesn't need to be formal. Entrepreneurs may enjoy sitting down and reading physical books; others may prefer YouTube lectures and educational videos, while others may like audiobooks. The point is if you are wondering if you have the characteristics to start a business and constantly find yourself with a book in your hand or listening to an educational lecture, that is a very good sign.
While there are many ways business founders can get information, there is something to be said for actual books. Whether they be physical or audiobooks, the amount of depth you can get with a book far surpasses anything you will find on YouTube.
4. You’re Self Motivated
Being a motivated self-starter is essential. Some may say that being a self-starter or “hustler” is the most important quality.
If you don’t need encouragement and have a history of starting new projects on your own or otherwise, then you might have the characteristics of an entrepreneur.
5. You Work Hard
Okay, this one is almost too easy: Entrepreneurs work hard.
The problem too many prospective founders are that those business people who are already successful regularly paint a far too rosy picture of what it means to start your own business. These people talk about the glory of the early days and how much fun everything used to be. Perhaps, in some cases, this is true. In most, however, it is not. The reality of starting your own business means waking up early, going to bed later, and working harder than you ever thought possible. Is it fun working 15 hours or more a day? Not really. But it is something. Working hard to create your own business or company is purposeful.
And that is what founders get that many professions, unfortunately, do not: a sense of purpose.
When you understand the “why” behind what you are doing, it makes it so much easier to work hard and to do so on a consistent basis. If you are already a hard worker, that’s great. Now you just need to find the right business. If you find the right business and know what you want to do, there are steps you can take to discipline yourself and increase how much work you get done every day.
6. You Have a "Why"
To make yourself a harder worker, first, you must remind yourself regularly (more than once a day) about why you are working so hard—knowing the “why” behind your actions can be incredibly valuable.
Aside from that, there are also some psychological things you can do to increase your productivity. These involve creating a more productive environment for yourself, setting goals, and getting physical at some point during every day.
The final suggestion, getting physical, may seem counterproductive to working hard as an entrepreneur. It, in fact, is not, though, because although you may “lose” an hour by going to the gym every day, you actually gain a lot of productivity by ensuring that you are going to have more physical energy afterward.
7. You’re Optimistic
Being optimistic, but not delusional, is an important characteristic of an founder. If you are a negative person, or someone who simply does not think difficult things can be done, then you are not cut out to be an business owner.
Entrepreneurs should always take the time to plan for obstacles, but they shouldn’t let those obstacles stop them from pursuing their dreams.
8. You’re a Creative Thinker
While many people don’t associate business with creative thinking, there is, in fact, a lot of imagination that goes into creating a new business. From the name of the company to the product or service itself, all of these things and more need to come from the mind of the entrepreneur. If you are a creative thinker and constantly find yourself thinking of new product ideas or new ways to do things, then you may have the characteristics of an business founder.
9. You’re Competitive
If you are going to dive into the rough waters of business, you must, at least, have a bit of competitiveness in you. It would be challenging to win in the marketplace without looking to other companies and thinking to yourself, “we can do better.”
10. You Enjoy Thoughtful Debates and Friendly Disagreements
One of the more paradoxical characteristics of an business owner is that they have to be both solid in their beliefs, while at the same time not being stubborn. Often times, what this ends up meaning is that business founders need to have conviction. They need to know what they are doing and why they are doing it—and they need to be thoughtful. But they cannot be so fragile as to surround themselves with a bunch of “yes” men who only tell them what they want to hear and refuse ever to disagree. Founders must enjoy debates and friendly disagreements and welcome people willing to engage in them.
If you enjoy “arguing” with your family or friends in a calm and inviting way and believe you are open-minded and can accept when you are wrong about things, then you may have one of the characteristics of an entrepreneur.
Bonus: You Question the Status Quo
Founders are natural rebels. Every revolutionary founder who ever lived looked at the status quo and asked: “why?” As in “why do we do things this way instead of that way?” Or “Why not do this or that?” Many times, the questions are met with raised eyebrows or anger. Some people do not like to question the status quo. They want to keep things just as they are. But not entrepreneurs.
So, are do you have the characteristics of an entrepreneur? You may not have all of them. But that’s fine! if you at least have some and are want to start your own business, buckle down, do some planning and prepare to work very, very hard. Good luck!
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