The path to being an entrepreneur is often filled with bumps and challenges, filled with unexpected roadblocks and questions. There may also come sleepless nights, plans that don’t work out, difficult customers and opportunities that never materialize despite the amount of promise they may show.
Despite all of this, every year, thousands of people embark on a journey determined to bring success and their own business visions to fruition.
This article will help explain a little more in detail on how to be an entrepreneur in your own right and what to expect to help grow your own business.
WHAT IS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
In order to know how to be an entrepreneur you need to know what one is. This is a common topic in the business world, this word gets thrown around a lot. The technical definition is ‘someone who sets up a business, taking on financial risk in the hope of the reward in making a profit. Essentially, an entrepreneur starts as a small business owner.
So, what are the common denominators in the characteristics of an entrepreneur and do you have them?
Entrepreneur characteristics are qualities that help them become a success. Most successful business people often have the following:
They are risk takers and adventurers: Often referred to as trail blazers, they thrive on doing things no-one has done before, they pave their own path! Outside of business, you’ll see them buy the brand new obscure new shoes or car, they’ll order the new items from menus instead of the usual.
They love moving, are usually into sports, whether they are boating or hiking, they’ll find trails, caves and beach inlets that are hard to get to and amazing when there. They are almost addicted to finding ‘new’. As kids they may not have thrived in school as they don’t like being given rules, they like pushing boundaries and creating the rules instead.
They are Visionaries. This means seeing how things can always be bigger and better. They always believe they have a personal part to play in it. They want to take the future into their own hands and create what they see in their own mind. They always speak about the future very optimistically, looking for opportunities and encouraging others to join them to achieve it.
Salesman: When encouraging others to join them, or others to invest money in their business or idea. They sell it, and they sell well. They are often great talkers and know how to pitch, negotiate and retain control of the business in all negotiations. Each entrepreneur’s personal character and moral compass determines how ethical they are in these sales negotiations.
Seek challenge, change and growth. Other characteristics of entrepreneurs involve finding the status quo boring. They often seek problems as they love solving them. It makes them feel like they are moving forward in business and in life. If business is steady for too long they open another premise or take on a bigger, harder client. They seek change and growth all the time.
Confidence. Some may say they can come across arrogant, sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. Confidence sells and they need confidence to achieve their vision.
Hard workers. There’s no doubt all entrepreneurs are hard workers – this is a key entrepreneur characteristic. They work long hours and procrastination isn’t something they do often. They achieve more than most because they work harder and longer than most.
WHAT ARE THE FOUR SPECIFIC AREAS OF RISK THAT ENTREPRENEURS FACE
FINANCIAL / ASSETS
One of the most common entrepreneurial risks when starting out is finances and assets.
Most entrepreneurs invest a lot of personal savings, sometimes borrowing money to start their own business. Couple this with quitting their job, letting go of the security of a weekly or monthly paycheck. Not knowing when, where or if their next paycheck is coming is a weekly risk every entrepreneur faces not just in the beginning but often still facing this risk many years down the track.
Cashflow is something every owner worries about. Even if cashflow is good for an entrepreneur, they are constantly investing in the latest new technology for their business, opening a new site, hiring again to continually grow. They see money as a tool not a goal.
Entrepreneurs work an average of 80 hours per week. They work hard to build the future they want. The times they are not working are often spent thinking about work, frequently switching their thoughts between new opportunities, worrying and problem solving. The hours spent both working and thinking about work means they spend much less time with their family and friends. They can personally feel lonely and isolated. Keeping a lot of the pressure on themselves. They sleep less and over time this all takes a toll on their physical and mental health.
There’s no guarantee a competitor with more brand awareness, access to money and connections is not going to copy you. It happens to small businesses everyday. Keep moving forward though.
I heard a talk from Simon Sinek this week and he spoke on his thoughts after attending a conference with Apple and then Microsoft. He said Microsoft spent 70% of their time talking about how to beat Apple. Whereas Apple spent 100% of their time talking about how to create better products for teachers and students to learn better. Focus on the future you want to create, if your competitors copy you, let them. Keep moving forward, you will always outrun them in the end.
TECHNOLOGY AND ECONOMIC CHANGES
The world is changing at a fast pace, even before a global lockdown forced every business to rethink how they work. Technology means you need to stay up to date with new savvy ways to be profitable and efficient. This has escalated since Covid-19, it has forced many businesses to run most if not all of their operations online from customer service to staff working from home and having team meetings over zoom.
Keeping up with unpredictable technological and economic changes is a risk every entrepreneur faces.
Being an entrepreneur has these risks, they are unavoidable, but don’t be deterred… Every great reward has a price to pay and for entrepreneurs making a stamp on their industry and taking hold of their future on their terms, this is their price.
By knowing and recognizing them you can normalize the risks for yourself and create ways to reduce them if possible for your situation.
So what does it take to be an entrepreneur? Start a business, invent something to sell, do something different, create change in an area you are passionate about… but most importantly, the first step to becoming an entrepreneur is to take the plunge!
Look beyond yourself. What is it that always captures your attention? What books, magazines, news headlines, movie trailers, what storylines tug at your heart? That is always a great indicator of what you are really passionate about and interested in.
Traditionally entrepreneurs have been male, and they are great at it. But women who are entrepreneurs make up 35% and the number is growing! Women are creating businesses that are flexible with work time frames so they can spend more time with their family. They are creating the future that their previous workplace could not accommodate. Anyone can succeed regardless of gender, it’s about your ability to take the plunge and do it!
Not every entrepreneur wants to run a multi billion dollar global company. Most want to have an impact in their sphere, change how things run and be in control of their future.
DID YOU KNOW THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT?
Yes, the Entrepreneur is a business owner. But many people without a business have an extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit. They carry the same characteristics as entrepreneurs but don’t have a business.
Every refugee has an entrepreneurial spirit; they take on enormous risk in the hope of profiting with a better life.
The person who grew up in an abusive home, went through the foster care system and now is a parent running a very safe, healthy and happy home. They took charge of their future and created generational change.
The teacher who works in a privileged area who believes all children should have access to quality education. At their own expense travels to developing nations and builds schools, trains teachers, organizes school books and materials for poorer communities every school holidays. They are investing in and creating huge change in the lives of others who couldn’t do it for themselves.
Inventors who constantly create new and better products. They are always seeking to improve and bring change with their creations.
So what is the secret on how to be a successful entrepreneur? Simply put, entrepreneurs shake the boat, they create what others are too scared to, they see change can happen and they work extremely hard to see it come to pass.
It’s easy and safe to get a job, to do what has always been done, to do what is expected. But if something is tugging at your heart, explore it… it’s probably the very thing you are meant to be starting.
FAULTS OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
They are never happy with their level of progress. They are visionary, they set high expectations; they always see ahead and find it hard to appreciate how far they really have come. How much change has really happened, how they have positively affected so many. Even when they achieve a goal, it isn’t celebrated for long, more can always be done and they are constantly focused on this.
They find it hard to enjoy the present moments. They are always thinking ahead. It’s hard to engage in a normal conversation with them unless it’s about planning for the future or solving a current problem, most other topics bore them.
They don’t have many friends, mostly due to time. They work long hours, focused on their end goal that is always shifting and moving further away as their vision grows. They don’t need many friends either, they are often personally quite self-sufficient. This however affects them as they age, they realize friends are important, relationships are essential for their happiness, not just achieving the goals.
As they grow and become successful, friendships, genuine friendships become harder on another level. People want to be their ‘friend’ for free advice or for a day on their boat, or to have dinner in their fancy house. Spongers come looking for friendships and it’s hard for them to decipher who is really real and who isn’t.
The answers to these questions are sadly often found when they go through a hard time, when they need help whether through a business failing, health problem or legal scare. Watch the real friends stay and support, it will always only be a handful and the fake ones run.
From the outside people often think entrepreneurs are these fearless, strong, amazing people. Guess what, they are the same as you and me. They have fears, doubts, worries, they are often risking more than their peers. They have the same insecurities as everyone else. They just have the spirit of ‘I’ll do it anyway’. They turn down the volume to those fears, they hear them but don’t tune in and listen daily to them. It’s a choice they make consciously everyday and you can make that choice today too.
We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to be an entrepreneur. For more helpful tips and tricks, check out our blog.
HOW ELSE CAN MILESTONE ACADEMY HELP?
Here at Milestone Academy, we’ve made it our mission to help small business owners achieve greater success by creating easy to digest online small business courses. They will help teach you the basics of business along with the key skills and techniques needed to set up or run a small business effectively.