The state of our economy has caused more than just loss of financial wealth, home ownership or job security. It has created a tsunami of people starting their own businesses. With the job market casting out thousands of highly skilled workers, technicians and professionals every day, many are finding it incredibly difficult to replace these positions somewhere else.
It seemed like a good idea at the time!
While many people simply succumb to the lack of job offers and give up trying, an increasing number of committed people elect to try their hand at going into business for themselves. Some do this because the job market seems overwhelmingly depressed and starting or buying a business seems like a direction with equal odds of success. Others see the current market shifts as an opportunity to satisfy a long pent-up desire to be their own boss and make their own fortunes. Regardless of the reason, more people today are taking the plunge into business self-ownership than at any point in recent history.
Isn’t 'Entrepreneur' just a generic term for having your own business?
There are many terms for people who go into business for themselves: sole proprietors, self-employed individuals, small business owners or entrepreneurs. While these all seem to capture the individual who decides to have their own business, they are not the same.
Take the term entrepreneur. It has a fancy ‘European’ sound to it but is it a substitute for the other terms? When you decided to take up your own torch and go into business for yourself, did you think of yourself as a ‘Entrepreneur’?
If the term ‘Entrepreneur’ is vague to you or you have shied away from associating yourself with it because you were unsure of what the term implies, here are some guidelines to think about. The term entrepreneur simply means: one who has an idea and takes the financial risk and accountability for the outcome of their pursuits. The real meaning can be better understood in the characteristics an entrepreneur should possess in order to achieve the results they desire.
So, are you an entrepreneur?
Do you see yourself in any of the characteristics listed below? This list is by no means all encompassing but it will give you the ability to check yourself to see if you possess the characteristics that make one in today’s marketplace.
Desire to succeed:
The true entrepreneur never gives up in their quest to reach the benchmark of success they have set for themselves. The real test is not in being successful but in being willing to do it again if the 1st, 2nd or 3rd attempts fail.
Determination/ work ethic:
Their relentless desire to succeed is fueled by a ‘dogged’ work ethic. They think nothing of putting in 15+ hours a day pursuing every aspect of their idea. While this level of determination is all but a requirement in the early phase of getting your idea off the ground, it can also be a blind spot in terms of being able to set priorities and stay focused on specific activities that drive accomplishment.
Having an innovative mindset:
Few business ideas today are truly revolutionary. Most are an adaptation of an existing idea. The entrepreneur will frequently borrow an existing business model and make significant improvements to it in order to create a niche that they can grow. They are constantly looking for ways to realize their dreams by innovating what’s already in play, even when they’re not sure that the market is ready for it.
Willingness to go it alone:
Entrepreneurs see opportunities differently than most people and will pursue a course of action that maybe unclear to close friends or family members. Frequently, their community will question their motives, ambitions or even sanity in an attempt to keep them from being hurt by their unshakable quest to see the venture to completion. The true entrepreneur understands this level of ‘loving scrutiny’ and presses forward despite the lack of perceived support for what they see very clearly as their road to financial freedom.
Acting on creative ideas and solutions:
This is one of the key factors that separate entrepreneurs from all other well intentioned business people. Entrepreneurs have an ability to find creative solution to situations that appear daunting and take action on them; sooner rather than later. Their ability to see unique approaches to the opportunities they take on enables them to act on decisions that are critical to the project’s continued momentum. The downside of this ‘go-getter’ mentality can be a pattern of frequent and unneeded ‘trial & error’ because not enough consideration is taken to research and test an idea before jumping into it with all four feet.
Making decisions in the absence of incomplete information or solid data:
At the beginning of an idea, there may not be enough information available to comfortably decide on a particular course of action. The entrepreneur knows this and is confident in making decisions under these circumstances. They recognize that intuitive thinking or ‘gut feelings’ play a role in forging ahead into the unknown and see this as exhilarating as pursuing the idea itself. The entrepreneur knows that there is no better way to kill a promising idea in the early stages than to become paralyzed in the decision making process.
Jack of all trades:
The entrepreneur knows how to do many things. They also know how to improvise and find others who can fill in their knowledge or skill gap with whatever is needed to keep moving forward. And while this ability to juggle and assimilate to a variety of situations enables to entrepreneur to keep things in motion, the downside is often an inability to accurately assess a true area requiring expertise outside the entrepreneur’s capabilities. In some cases, critical decisions may be made hastily or incorrectly causing unintended setbacks.
In the end, it comes down to this:
While all these attributes are essential ingredients for today’s ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ entrepreneurs, the one main characteristic that separates them from all others who participate in business is their ability to take risks! When most people are confronted with risk (or even hear the word risk) they typically think in terms of what they might lose or how they might be hurt as a result. The entrepreneur understands that reaching previously untouched goals requires risk and they accept this as a condition of achieving success. In the face of a failed attempt (and there are many), entrepreneurs will use the experience as a benchmark for learning before setting their sights on the next phase of their efforts.
So, whether you fit the definition of entrepreneur, sole proprietor, self employed business person or small business owner, take the time to clarify your vision for your business and be ready to experience a world that is unlike any other profession around. The mixture of exhilaration, uncertainty and daily directional changes is not for everyone but if this is your call in life, pursue it as you would life itself!