This article was written by John Rau, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor
According to Wikipedia, an “entrepreneur is an individual who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so”. Are you ready for this, that is, (1) to organize a business (or businesses), (2) to operate a business and (3) to take on the financial risk to do so?
Referring to http://www.sba.gov/content/entrepreneurship-you, the Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests that you need to have the following characteristics and skills commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs:
- Comfortable with taking risks
- Being your own boss also means you’re the one making tough decisions. Entrepreneurship involves uncertainty. Do you avoid uncertainty in life at all costs? If yes, then entrepreneurship may not be the best fit for you. Do you enjoy the thrill of taking calculated risks? Then read on.
- Entrepreneurs have to make a lot of decisions on their own. If you find you can trust your instincts and you’re not afraid of rejection every now and then, you could be on your way to being an entrepreneur.
- You may have the greatest idea in the world, but if you cannot persuade customers, employees and potential lenders or partners, you may find entrepreneurship to be challenging. If you enjoy public speaking, engage new people with ease and find you can make compelling arguments grounded in facts, it’s likely you’re poised to make your business idea succeed.
- Able to negotiate
- As a small business owner, you will need to negotiate everything from leases to contract terms to rates. Polished negotiation skills will help you save money and keep your business running smoothly.
- Are you able to think of new ideas? Can you imagine new ways to solve problems? Entrepreneurs must be able to think creatively. If you have insights on how to take advantage of new opportunities, entrepreneurship may be a good fit.
- Supported by others
- Before you start a business, it’s important to have a strong support system in place. You’ll be forced to make many important decisions, especially in the first months of opening your business. If you do not have a support network of people to help you, consider finding a business mentor. A good starting point would be to contact your local SCORE organization and make contact with one or more counselors. A business mentor is someone who is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.
Bizcoach (see http://www.bizcoach.org) provides some good advice for what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the qualities for success, specifically:
- You must have a clear vision. Entrepreneurs are able to visualize exactly what it’s going to look like when it’s done. To keep the end in mind is critical in creating a path to get there.
- You must demonstrate proactivity in the sense that entrepreneurs tend to make things happen and are impatient with indecision. They make decisions and take action to move forward.
- You must have tenacity. Entrepreneurs are not easily discouraged and will persist in spite of obstacles. In fact, entrepreneurs enjoy the risks of failure and accept challenges.
- An entrepreneur has the ability to multi-task, which is required to run the various aspects of any successful business.
- Entrepreneurs recognize a need and have the ability to take action.
- You must have a belief in customer service. Provide extra care and they will return.
- Most entrepreneurs possess some degree of competitiveness, but you should view competition as a way to improve your business.
- You must set and achieve goals on a regular basis.
- You must believe in yourself in that you can do it in spite of the risks and potential obstacles.
- You must have a passion and zeal for what you do.
Research of successful entrepreneurs has documented that successful small business people have certain common characteristics. In this regard, the following brief checklist developed by SCORE won’t enable you to predict success, but it can give you an idea of whether you will have a head start or a handicap with which to work. Ask yourself the following questions:
· Can you persevere through tough times?
· Do you have a strong desire to be your own boss?
· Do the judgments you make in life regularly turn out well?
· Do you have the ability to conceptualize the whole of a business?
· Do you possess the high level of energy, sustainable over long hours, to make a business successful?
· Do you have significant specialized business experience?
While not every successful business owner starts with a “yes” answer to all of the above questions, three or four “no’s” and undecided answers should make you think twice about going it alone right now. But, don’t be discouraged. Seek extra training and support with help from a skilled team of business advisors such as accountants, bankers, attorneys and SCORE counselors.
In summary, starting a business is not for everyone. It brings a certain level of stress and strained financial resources. There is no simple formula or set of instructions that will teach you how to become an entrepreneur. Having the characteristics and skills as cited above by the SBA and possessing the above listed qualities for success will get you on your way.