Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur?

True entrepreneurs know and understand the magnetism and exhilaration of exploration and discovery.

Having been an active entrepreneur since 1979, I can look back and reflect on the driving forces that keep my internal GPS calibrated to live this roller coaster ride without a map or track. I can compare my entrepreneurial life with traditional work environments, as I spent 18 years with a major corporation prior to serving worldwide businesses with my skills and competencies as an entrepreneur. Naturally, I tend to hang out with other entrepreneurs like me, the “birds of a feather flock together” syndrome. I hope my experience, insights and Ideas nudge new entrepreneurs to launch into this crazy and wonderful field of endeavor.

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone and certainly not for the feint hearted. It’s definitely not an easy, guaranteed path to success. The word “entrepreneur” makes me wonder if the “neur” (neuron) part deals with using your brainpower to form new enterprises. True entrepreneurs create products, services and businesses, characterized by something new, better, different or having higher value. By definition, the entrepreneur’s pathway is an experiment because the concepts, ideas and outcomes are unproven. The territory and domain of entrepreneurs is the unknown. They must have fortitude, faith and vision to follow this life pathway. True entrepreneurs know and understand the magnetism and exhilaration of exploration and discovery. They experience disappointment, setbacks, loss, risk and the full spectrum of human emotion, perhaps more than anyone else. They can rarely explain to others why they do what they do; they just know they were born to be on this path.

Being a “me too,” or replicating what someone else has accomplished with a sustainable profit, is not, in my mind, being a true entrepreneur. I enthusiastically encourage and support launching small businesses using established and proven business models; franchises are a good example. Adding more locations or factories to meet market demand is also an example of replication. Small business is the true core and catalyst for economic growth and job opportunities. At one time, however, every successful small business began as the entrepreneurial dream and pursuit of someone wanting to break out of the norm and do something different. There are opportunities to use the “entrepreneurial spirit” to make continuous improvement in businesses of all sizes.

The following is a short list of characteristics of true entrepreneurs I have observed in fellow compatriots and myself.

  • Passion to do something they are unable to do working for someone else
  • Vision and “gut feel” for creating something new that has enduring value
  • Knowledge of their personal strengths and limitations without allowing limitations to limit them
  • Resiliency and determination in the face of adversity and failure
  • "Never, ever give up" attitude (A Winston Churchill quote)
  • Instinct for what to do and who to go to for help
  • “Ready, Fire, Aim” may be a way of life with increasingly better outcomes over time

In conclusion, entrepreneurs make the world a better place to live, learn, grow and prosper. They spawn small businesses that become the larger businesses that power our world economic engine. Entrepreneurs are the leading edge for change. Let’s honor, respect and support these brave men and women, who may appear foolish at times, but have a dream and dare to live it.