Entrepreneurship is a popular goal these days, for everyone from Gen Y college grads to mid-career workers looking for a change. But not everyone knows what entrepreneurship really means—or whether they’re really cut out for it.
While the notion of “working for yourself” might appeal to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got what it takes to make it in the stressful and challenging world of entrepreneurship. If being your own boss is on your bucket list, take a look first at these five traits of successful entrepreneurs. If they remind you of you, then you’re on the right track!
If you don’t have passion for whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, count yourself out right now. Entrepreneurship is not a path for the lukewarm. It’s too full of ups and downs and setbacks and challenges for anyone who isn’t “all in” to make a successful go of it.
If your passion lies solely in “making lots of money,” I’d also encourage you to try something else. There are plenty of less-risky ventures, from franchise ownership to investing in the stock market, that will require much less blood, sweat, and tears on your part and that have a more proven record of return on investment. Entrepreneurship is a labor of love, and you don’t have the love, you won’t go very far.
Passion and drive are not one and the same. Plenty of people have hobbies they’re passionate about, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to make a full-time business of them.
Drive is defined as “an innate urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need.” If you love baking but only do it when you feel like it, you may be passionate, but you’ve only got a hobby. If you’re determined to become the boutique bakery in your city and have your name listed on Yelp, and you won’t rest till you get there, you’ve got drive.
Drive is absolutely essential for making a go of whatever business you’re thinking of pursuing. It will help you conquer obstacles, get through long hours and setbacks, and keep moving and improving your products and services.
Contrary to popular daydreams, being your own boss does not equal sleeping in till noon and taking endless vacation days—at least not if you want to run a business that has any chance of success.
When you’re the only one peering over your shoulder, you need to be able to keep yourself on task in the face of distractions, challenges, and the tempting knowledge that you can technically do whatever you want, whenever you want, without getting in any immediate trouble. You have to be able to look at the big picture and realize that cutting corners now will only hurt you down the road.
Entrepreneurs wear many hats. They are accountants, marketers, PR reps, customer service agents, project managers, and more. You need to be willing to dive into all aspects of your business, from the creative to the mundane, in order to create something with traction.
You also have to be willing to learn on the go, as you will never fully be “ready” to run a business, and there will always be new developments and challenges to assimilate and overcome. If you’re not prepared to be a lifelong learner, entrepreneurship may not be for you.
5. A Healthy Dose of Pragmatism
Entrepreneurs are interesting creatures. On the one hand, they often find themselves pursuing goals that seem lofty and unrealistic to those around them—why not just stay with a traditional employer and have a steady paycheck with benefits? On the other hand, they also need to be fully grounded. As much as you believe in your gourmet cupcakes, if customers are telling you a couple of your favorite flavors don’t do it for them, you need to be willing to let them go.
Successful entrepreneurs know how to walk the line between stubborn self-confidence and humble realism. They’re willing to believe in their dreams and pursue them with everything they have, but they’re also willing to change course, pivot, and tweak their plans to align with their circumstances. If you veer too far in one direction or the other, you may not be able to perform the balancing act.
Are you an entrepreneur currently running your own business? What other traits would you tell wannabe entrepreneurs are absolutely essential?