Many people dream of being an entrepreneur, especially in times like today when economic volatility has led to deep layoffs in the tech sector and general job insecurity in other industries. They see themselves choosing the entrepreneurial life and then immediately choosing the right business.
Aspiring entrepreneurs envision their business as majorly successful, allowing them to make enormous wealth, be the boss, have the freedom to come and go as they please and work how and when they want. If only this were the reality, everyone would be an entrepreneur!
Unfortunately, this is not the experience for most. Being an entrepreneur can be tremendously rewarding, but it is hard work. And that is a key point to keep in mind before you start down the entrepreneurial path, before you even think about what industry appeals to you or would make the best use of your abilities, aptitudes and assets.
On average, entrepreneurs work harder and put in longer hours than their employees, while taking on much more risk.
Despite the odds, thousands of people launch new businesses every year. Some will be wildly successful, some will muddle along to sustainability and others will fail. While luck cannot be overlooked, success for a new business is mostly the result of the vision, effort and ability of the founding entrepreneur.
So, what does it take to effectively launch a business?
Keep in mind the 10 common traits of an entrepreneur:
Successful entrepreneurs have a clear vision of what their business will be and can concisely articulate its purpose, goals and market position. They have identified (and can succinctly describe) the who, what, where, when and why of their business.
A successful entrepreneur is passionate about their business. It is hard work, and putting in long hours will be tough if you don’t love what you are doing. People with passion know what it is that drives them to keep working to achieve their vision.
Entrepreneurs remain tough when the going gets rough. They don’t give up easily. They can accept rejection and are willing to learn from their mistakes. They are willing and able to adapt and modify their plan in order to be successful the next time around.
- Willingness to work hard
Being an entrepreneur is harder than being an employee. To be successful, the entrepreneur must be willing to put in the time and effort required, often for little or no pay at the beginning. Successful entrepreneurs recognize the risk and necessary work that achieving their goals will entail.
Successful entrepreneurs have confidence in themselves and in their business. They must believe in their ability and in their idea. Every entrepreneur will face rejection along the way and successful entrepreneurs are those with the confidence to keep going and bounce back after a setback.
Things do not always go as planned. A successful entrepreneur is flexible. They learn from their mistakes and are willing to adapt and change as they go along. They take advice from others and are open to trying new approaches
- Can sell
An entrepreneur must be comfortable selling. Even with a sales team, the leader must be an expert at networking and be able to promote themselves and their business to bankers, customers, suppliers and staff.
- Prudent with money
Successful entrepreneurs are good money managers. They prudently invest in overhead and always keep track of the money and manage their cash flow.
- Willing to ask for and accept help
An entrepreneur needs to be a jack of all trades, but the most successful entrepreneurs know their limitations, realize they can’t do everything and are willing to delegate to others. They are willing to ask for help. They seek out and pay for expert advice when needed.
No matter how successful your business, there will be bumps along the road. A successful entrepreneur is resilient and can bounce back from a setback. They use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow. They understand that failure is part of the game.
Running your own business can be tremendously rewarding, but not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Before taking the leap into entrepreneurship, ask yourself if you have what it takes to be successful. If you do, enjoy the journey.
Originally published in June 2021 and updated in January 2023.