Entrepreneurship has always had an important place at the heart of the American dream. Americans love to start businesses. We are builders, dreamers, inventors and “do-ers.” There’s something about America that leads people to ask, “why can’t I do something better, or create something that has never been done before?”
Not everyone has the right personality to start a business. Before you decide to take a leap of faith into entrepreneurship, it’s best to take stock of your personal strengths, personality traits, and ideal ways of working and living.
Do you have what it takes to start a business? There are many characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, and not all successful business owners are alike. But in general, if you want to start a business, you should possess some or all of the following traits:
- Resilience: Things are not always going to go your way. There will be days where you feel frustrated, when deals fall through and customers disappoint you, when no one will return your calls or respond to e-mails, when unexpected expenses suddenly start piling up. Running your own business is not always sunshine, roses and glory. Sometimes it’s a hard slog. But if you have a sense of inner resilience, you’ll be able to get through the rough spots and bounce back.
- Confidence: Do you believe in your business? Are you passionate about the value that you offer to your customers? Are you certain that people need what you’re selling, and are they willing to pay you a profitable amount of money to sell it to them? Confidence is not just about the stories you tell to others (like the 20-second “elevator speech” to describe your business to people you meet). It’s also about the “self-talk” you give to yourself. If you tell yourself that your business is worthwhile, that your success is imminent and growing, and that you’ll be able to handle whatever challenges come your way, then reality is likely to follow.
- Faith: Starting a business is a leap of faith – but it’s not just one “leap.” You have to keep leaping. Whether you’re a religious person or not, every business owner needs to have faith that the universe will provide, that opportunities will keep materializing, and that there will be more ups than downs along the journey. Faith is the antidote to fear.
- Drive: Are you willing to work as hard as it takes? Do you see yourself working 12 and 14 hour days (or longer) when the business needs you most? Are you prepared to work 14 days straight (or longer) without a day off, not because you’re desperate for money but because you love what you do and you’re committed to your business’s success? Do you hunger and thirst for work – not just for money, but for the feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment that come from a job well done and from winning the game of business?
- Love of Details: Running a business is not only about doing the stuff you love and serving your favorite customers. Sometimes it requires you to get familiar with technical details, legalese, and various unglamorous tasks that you never knew existed. If you want to start a business, you’ll need to choose a business structure and get familiar with the relative merits of an LLC vs. an S-Corporation. You’ll need to navigate the ins and outs of how to register a business. And once your business is registered and running, and the money starts rolling in, you’ll need to learn all about the wonderful world of small business taxes. But these details are not a sideshow to the “real work” of your business – they’re fully a part of your business. If you can learn to relish these details, and enjoy learning new things about previously esoteric subjects like accounting, receivables, and estimated quarterly tax payments, you’ll be a happier and more successful business owner.
Starting a business is an amazing journey that can create big benefits in your life, as well as your career. But before you begin your journey, give some thought to whether you have the right personality traits and emotional strengths to see you through.