It's a common misconception that one must be born with the right traits to be a successful entrepreneur. While intelligence and self-confidence certainly help, these traits, along with other characteristics, can be gained and lost throughout life. (See video: Entrepreneur.)
Whether or not you have the right personality to be an entrepreneur ultimately depends on your current state of mind: For example, are you currently motivated enough to give up 2 years of pay? Do you have the right skills and contacts to get the business off the ground? Is your idea good enough to invest in?
The answer to these questions can change depending on your context -- the time and place, as well as your current experiences and current partners. Ask yourself if you have these 4 traits and you can determine whether or not you presently have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: (For related reading, see article: The Real Risks Of Entrepreneurship.)
Are you bringing something valuable to your customers? Is your idea better than those of your competitors and/or is it solving a problem that has yet to be addressed?
Vision takes a combination of intuition and practical experience. You have to find a good idea and know how to apply it. The media likes to focus on the intuitive traits -- like Steve Jobs's ability to envision a new use of computers with the graphical user interface, but without his knowledge of the industry and client base, this would have amounted to nothing more than daydreaming. (To learn more, see article: Steve Jobs And The Apple Story.)
Another aspect of vision is the ability to determine the resources and capital you need and estimate how long it will take to earn these back. Drawing a business plan requires you to translate your abstract idea into concrete numbers. In doing so, you may or may not find you have the means to make it a reality.
Is your heart in your new business idea? Or are you just looking for a way out of your current job?
Seeking better pay or wanting to work fewer hours are poor reasons to start a venture, according to Fit Small Business -- not only because these motivations are impractical (entrepreneurs typically go 1 to 2 years without pay and tend to work far more than salaried employees), but also because they don't indicate enough passion to push through the roadblocks.
Entrepreneurs need to truly believe in their ideas. If you're motivated by the thought of improving lives via your product or service, you're much more likely to withstand the obstacles.
Do you tend to dwell on mistakes, or are you quick to pick yourself up and learn from them?
If the latter description tends to characterize you, you're much less likely to throw in the towel when things don't go as planned. You might be unexpectedly rejected for a loan, lose a major contract or have a prospective employee drop out last minute. If you can take these as learning experiences, you'll be well ahead of the entrepreneur who mopes at each setback.
Another aspect of perseverance is the level of personal support you receive. Entrepreneurs often underestimate the amount of hours they’ll be working and the series of ups and downs they’ll be experiencing, especially in the first year. If you have a spouse or long-term partner, ask if they’re prepared to support you along the way.
4. Willingness to Adapt
Do you actively seek feedback about your product or service? Or do you dislike hearing criticism?
While it’s true entrepreneurs need to be self-driven and believe in themselves when nobody else does, you also must be open to change -- whether it’s adapting to changes in the market, customer feedback or a realization that you could make your product better.
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to take a new approach that's different from what they originally planned -- some wind up in industries that are entirely different from the one in which they started out. On the other hand, you may never stray from your initial idea. Either way, actively seeking out criticism can only help. It will either help you generate new ideas, or, by means of your responding to those criticisms, help you strengthen your current platform.
The Bottom Line
In a nutshell, these four personality traits indicate whether or not you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you don’t feel that they describe you, fear not. While it’s probably not a good idea to start a business right now, this could change with time. As you gain experience and polish your business idea, you may find yourself answering these questions differently. (For related reading, see slideshow: Ten Successful Young Entrepreneurs.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of Fit Small Business and are subject to change at any time due to changes in market or economic conditions. The comments should not be construed as a recommendation of any individual holdings or market sectors. This material does not constitute any specific legal, tax or accounting advice. Please consult with qualified professionals for this type of advice.
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