This is a question that’s been looming in the back of my mind the past week or so. After attending the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s Niagara Economic Summit on October 30th, and hearing the “buzz” be around all things entrepreneurial – it made me wonder if we’re sending an accurate, or complete, message to people. Can anyone with an idea, skill or lack of wanting to work for a “boss” at a J-O-B for the rest of their lives become a entrepreneur? I’m going to say that yes they can go the path of self-employment, without question, but no they may not necessarily be successful in their venture. It takes more than just a desire to work for yourself to be an entrepreneur. I think that’s a consideration that breeds the most confusion for people. Programs can show you how to operate a business, how to create a business plan that may or may not be realistic, but at the end of the day none of that can make someone starting a business successful.
Now, I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy, because as an owner of two businesses, and advisor to so many entrepreneurs, I’m the largest proponent of entrepreneurs out there. I’m just also a realist and understand that it takes more than just a desire to be self-employed to be a successful entrepreneur. If that’s all it took there would be no business failures. Ever. Now, you don’t need a ton of education, money, or have the next Facebook idea sitting in your back pocket. After all, the next big tech guru is still going to need a massage, hair cut, bookkeeper, and virtual assistant too.
What sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest, are these three key traits:
- A willingness to do the work: whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. You can have a passion, but if you’re not willing to put the time, effort, sweat and tears (and there WILL be tears, guaranteed), without giving up or moving on you’re not meant to be an entrepreneur;
- Flexibility: owning your own business presents many ups and downs and if you’re not open minded and able to see and create opportunity when it presents itself, you’re limiting your own ability to be a successful business owner, and;
- Desire for continuous learning: whether it be formal, informal, from books, mentors, clients or your team, to be successful in your business you always need to be learning. This will not only allow you to expand your business, become an expert in your field, or offer you an aspect outside of your field, but will allow you the opportunity to connect even better with others as you expand your own horizons through personal and professional development.
Not meant to be an entrepreneur? That’s certainly not a bad thing, because inevitably surrounding every successful entrepreneur is an amazing team. You may think you have what it takes to be self-employed, such as innovation, self-drive and ambition, but those can also be sought after traits in an employee.
It takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur and the occasional reality check may help you determine in which direction you’re meant to excel.
Jennifer Wallace is an independent financial and business advisor with Jennifer Wallace Insurance & Investment Solutions and founder & owner of Growing Women Entrepreneurs aka GWEn. She independently works with entrepreneurs in Niagara through the GTA to build financial protection plans for them and their businesses, as well as coaching them through action plans created to meet their business goals.