When I owned a bakery/café, I had a bold customer ask me what kind of profit I made. Of course, I wasn’t comfortable revealing my finances but he kept probing, trying to get me to at least give him a ballpark idea. He finally said, “So what do you make, about $2 million?” Wow, how I wished that were true! He didn’t mean $2 million is sales, he meant in profit. Most people don’t know the kind of money it costs to run a business and the kind of profit you can expect. Any business venture is a risk and there is no way around that. No one can predict a hurricane, a gas shortage, a housing crisis or a lack of good employees to be hired. Some businesses look like they are thriving, but no one but the owner knows the true cost of running the business, and although there may be lots of customers, there may also be high costs.
Can You Dig Deep? To be an entrepreneur, you have to have fortitude and confidence. If you don’t, at the first sign of trouble, you may be tempted to run and hide. There are great things about being an entrepreneur. You get to make your own decisions, you can affect the outcome of your business, and you get to reap the rewards of your hard work. You also have to pay the price of poor decisions, wrong assumptions and things that affect you that you have no control over. It comes down to risk versus reward. Many entrepreneurial-minded people look for partners to help share the risk and be a partner in decision making. When you look more closely, you are also signing on someone that you may spend more time with than your significant other. You have to be very compatible in your management style, personality and risk tolerance.
If you have the entrepreneurial spirit then you likely are confident in your abilities and enjoy problem solving. You look at situations as a challenge and instead of being daunted by the task ahead, relish the creativity you can use to overcome an obstacle. You enjoy research and use resources such as the Internet, networking groups and other experienced individuals who can give you the benefit of their own history. Looking at facts and data doesn’t deter you.
Do You Enjoy Change? You like trying new things. You constantly seek to evolve to a new level and learn new skills. You are a sponge for new ideas and you feed on the energy of trying out a new product or process. You can ask questions comfortably and don’t mind showing that you have something to learn.
An entrepreneur has to remain calm in the midst of chaos. Your business is your life and your investment. No one can treat it the way you do and no one will protect it exactly the same way, so you must be able to face adversity and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. You don’t get to step back in the middle of a crisis and stew over the solution. You have to make a decision immediately and keep everyone around you calm too.
You Can’t Avoid the Work. You must enjoy working hard. Although most entrepreneurs have the goal of someday retiring and enjoying the fruits of their success, there is a lot of ground to cover before that can happen. Businesses don’t just run themselves and the absentee owner may be in for a shock when they return from some time off even though they thought they were leaving their business in capable hands. Most owners have to work long hours, often on weekends; they miss their family’s special occasions, work late and get up early.
Some of the most successful business people are also very intuitive. Some famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Donald Trump say that listening to their intuition outweighed their business acumen. All have accumulated lots of wealth so they must have a pretty good sense of choosing what’s best for them.
Until you have actually lived the life of an entrepreneur, you may not realize the sheer amount of risk that person is taking to live their dream. They may have used their home as collateral for a business loan, plunked down their savings as a down payment or gone without a salary while their business got going.
If you can look at all of these things and still say, “That’s the life for me,” then you are the perfect entrepreneur. Go get them!