If you’re anything like me, being an entrepreneur isn’t really optional. It’s in our DNA. It’s how we think and feel about the world around us. I started my first business at age 12, mowing lawns. Since then I’ve gone on to create and co-create several other successful businesses, including working with CEO’s and other entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry.
We entrepreneurs certainly vary in our styles and in the processes we use for creating businesses. However, some traits seem to be universal. If these signs resonate with you, even if you don’t have a history of starting a company, you just might be an entrepreneur.
1. Passionate About Improvement: Entrepreneurs see new opportunities, ways to help or to serve, and chances to improve the status quo. They are passionate for making the world a better place with their products or services. This passion for improvement allows for a wonderful creativity that leads to innovation.
2. Restless and Need to Be Productive: Entrepreneurs have a hard time sitting still for too long, because their minds never turn off. They are always thinking of new ideas, and feel the need to be productive or to create the ideas they have. Entrepreneurs are happiest when they are working on projects for ideas they love. They are often willing to work long hours to see their ideas to fruition.
For many entrepreneurs, myself included, a “day off” is savored because it gives you time to dig into the things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. Even when a day off is spent unplugged from technology – getting a massage, walking on a beach, etc., those are also often the times when entrepreneurs get their best ideas.
3. Able to Overcome Fear: Nothing is certain in life, and certainly not in business. Entrepreneurs learn how to weigh the potential risks, mitigate them when necessary, and proceed when it makes sense. They are able to overcome their own fear of failing and may even take on risks that they have been advised against.
My first boss and mentor, (and lifelong entrepreneur) Cliff used to work closely with a range of professional advisors in putting together large business deals. He listened thoughtfully to their advice and made sure he understood the situation. When his gut told him the deal was right, he’d take the risk even with some concerns or questions unanswered. He once told me that if he listened to all of the naysayers, he’d never put a deal together.
“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs
4. Resourceful and Able to Solve Problems: There is almost never enough time, money, or human resources to do everything an entrepreneur would like to do. This forces resourcefulness and an ability to solve problems to get things done. The most successful entrepreneurs are expert problem solvers who are able to leverage resources to achieve a large impact.
5. Listen to their Inner Voice: While entrepreneurs are generally intelligent, success doesn’t come from their head, but rather from their heart and listening to their internal voice or intuition. In fact, one of the biggest downfalls for potential business owners is “analysis paralysis” or getting stuck in the details. A beautifully designed, perfect business plan does not guarantee success. I’m a huge advocate for business planning, but taking action is what creates the results.
6. Tenacious: Successful entrepreneurs are able to persevere through the ups and downs of a business, sometimes to a fault. Once an entrepreneur has a clear focus, they’ll pursue their idea until it’s successful. That’s not to say that entrepreneurs are inflexible. Quite the contrary, entrepreneurs are adaptive individuals who can adjust to market conditions. They just don’t give up.
I remember hearing this phrase many times when I was growing up, from parents and teachers: “You have a one track mind.” It was their way of recognizing that once I had my sights set on something, I was extremely tenacious and persistent. I still am to this day.
How tenacious are you? Are you willing to stick with a project you believe in even when there are failures or setbacks?
7. Able to Recover from Failure: In creating a new business, service, or product, there are no foolproof roadmaps. Failures are inevitable. Successful entrepreneurs are willing to take risks, fail quickly, learn from their mistakes, and move on. Entrepreneurs aren’t overly concerned with failure and focus instead on the vision they want to create. Failures are just bumps in the road.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison
8. Have a Need for Freedom: Most entrepreneurs are not great employees. They have a need for freedom, and that usually means they can only work for themselves. For that reason, many entrepreneurs have been let go from one or more jobs, or are simply miserable in the corporate environment.
“There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.” ~ Christopher Morley
Now It’s Your Turn: Are you an entrepreneur? Do these signs describe you? Share a sign that you see with the entrepreneurs around you in the comments below.