Who can become an entrepreneur? There is no one definitive profile. Successful entrepreneurs come in various ages, income levels, gender, and race. They differ in education and experience. But research indicates that most successful entrepreneurs share certain personal attributes, including: creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility, leadership, passion, self-confidence, and “smarts.”
Creativity is the spark that drives the development • of new products or services or ways to do business. It is the push for innovation and improvement. It is continuous learning, questioning, and thinking outside of prescribed formulas.
Dedication is what motivates the entrepreneur to • work hard, 12 hours a day or more, even seven days a week, especially in the beginning, to get the endeavor off the ground. Planning and ideas must be joined by hard work to succeed. Dedication makes it happen.
Determination is the extremely strong desire to • achieve success. It includes persistence and the ability to bounce back after rough times. It persuades the entrepreneur to make the 10th phone call, after nine have yielded nothing. For the true entrepreneur, money is not the motivation. Success is the motivator; money is the reward.
Flexibility is the ability to move quickly in response • to changing market needs. It is being true to a dream while also being mindful of market realities. A story is told about an entrepreneur who started a fancy shop selling only French pastries. But customers wanted to buy muffins as well. Rather than risking the loss of these customers, the entrepreneur modified her vision to accommodate these needs.
Leadership is the ability to create rules and to set • goals. It is the capacity to follow through to see that rules are followed and goals are accomplished.
Passion is what gets entrepreneurs started and • keeps them there. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to convince others to believe in their vision. It can’t substitute for planning, but it will help them to stay focused and to get others to look at their plans.
Self-confidence comes from thorough planning, • which reduces uncertainty and the level of risk. It also comes from expertise. Self-confidence gives the entrepreneur the ability to listen without being easily swayed or intimidated.
“Smarts” consists of common sense joined with • knowledge or experience in a related business or endeavor. The former gives a person good instincts, the latter, expertise. Many people have smarts they don’t recognize. A person who successfully keeps a household on a budget has organizational and financial skills. Employment, education, and life experiences all contribute to smarts.
Every entrepreneur has these qualities in different degrees. But what if a person lacks one or more? Many skills can be learned. Or, someone can be hired who has strengths that the entrepreneur lacks. The most important strategy is to be aware of strengths and to build on them.
What leads a person to strike out on his own and start a business? Perhaps a person has been laid off once or more. Sometimes a person is frustrated with his or her current job and doesn’t see any better career prospects on the horizon. Sometimes a person realizes that his or her job is in jeopardy. A firm may be contemplating cutbacks that could end a job or limit career or salary prospects. Perhaps a person already has been passed over for promotion. Perhaps a person sees no opportunities in existing businesses for someone with his or her interests and skills.
Some people are actually repulsed by the idea of working for someone else. They object to a system where reward is often based on seniority rather than accomplishment, or where they have to conform to a corporate culture.
Other people decide to become entrepreneurs because they are disillusioned by the bureaucracy or politics involved in getting ahead in an established business or profession. Some are tired of trying to promote a product, service, or way of doing business that is outside the mainstream operations of a large company.
In contrast, some people are attracted to entrepreneurship by the advantages of starting a business. These include:
Entrepreneurs are their own bosses. They make • the decisions. They choose whom to do business with and what work they will do. They decide what hours to work, as well as what to pay and whether to take vacations.
Entrepreneurship offers a greater possibility of • achieving significant financial rewards than working for someone else.
It provides the ability to be involved in the total • operation of the business, from concept to design and creation, from sales to business operations and customer response.
It offers the prestige of being the person in • charge.
It gives an individual the opportunity to build eq• uity, which can be kept, sold, or passed on to the next generation.
Entrepreneurship creates an opportunity for a • person to make a contribution. Most new entrepreneurs help the local economy. A few—through their innovations—contribute to society as a whole. One example is entrepreneur Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, and the subsequent revolution in desktop computers.
Some people evaluate the possibilities for jobs and careers where they live and make a conscious decision to pursue entrepreneurship.
No one reason is more valid than another; none guarantee success. However, a strong desire to start a business, combined with a good idea, careful planning, and hard work, can lead to a very engaging and profitable endeavor.