Entrepreneurs Are Made, Not Born
Ever since the eighteenth century, taking risks has been considered a fundamental attribute of the entrepreneur. Those risks have included life and limb as well as money. It's a myth that all entrepreneurs take big chances with their (or other people's) money. The intelligent ones don't. Instead, they take calculated risks based on past experience, research, and good judgment.
But the fact that they take risks and can handle a lot more uncertainty than the rest of us doesn't mean they thrive on chaos. Most are very well organized — they have to be.
It's another myth that entrepreneurs are just lucky. More than likely, they've done their homework, have a good idea, and recognize a great opportunity when they see one. The rest of us usually see it only after it's been pointed out to us. If that's luck, then it's luck that they've generated themselves.
In addition to risk-takers, here are other kinds of people who make good entrepreneurs.
There are few jobs that require no communication skills at all, and if you are the heart, soul, and face of your operation, then it behooves you to be a superlative communicator. Customers, clients, colleagues, and vendors alike need to know exactly what you want, and you need to know what they want. Pay attention to their answers, expectations, needs, and signals, and try to see things from their perspective. Listen to opposing ideas — you might learn something.
Everyone makes decisions every day, but an entrepreneur has to make smart decisions and come up with solutions, ideas, and alternatives based on the information available at that moment and then put them into action. You may never have the leisure of researching your facts to death to make the absolutely, positively correct decision. If the answer you choose isn't quite right, try the next one. There are no perfect conditions for work, or life, for that matter. You will always have to do the best you can with the resources you have in the time allotted.
You have to be willing to try new things and do many different tasks — even ones you don't like. It helps to be a quick study, too. There will be times when no one else is available to help, from designing an ad to compiling a spreadsheet to boxing up the product for shipping. That's when you learn how to do it yourself or find someone who can help you. If you want to do only one part of the business — for example, you love to sell to customers or craft the widgets with your own two hands — perhaps you should consider finding an employer who appreciates your special talents.
It's a romantic myth that all entrepreneurs are experts or go it alone. Think of William Hewlett and David Packard. Yes, they built a business empire out of some ideas they tinkered with in their garage, but they also established, promoted, and put their name on a business culture that valued teams, innovation, and fairness. Besides being a good leader and something of a visionary, an entrepreneur benefits from knowing how to assemble a great team of people whose skills and knowledge complement her own. The chances are good that there will be an expert or two in the group. If you can encourage a team of dedicated partners to rally around you, then think of the success you'll have with your clients.
Some people downplay the relevance of passion in business in favor of the more pragmatic skills mentioned previously. But if you aren't passionate about what you are doing, how can you expect others to be? Passion about a service or product, like good humor, is infectious and will rub off on your colleagues. Some people think that money is the only thing that motivates entrepreneurs, but more often it's the chance to institute change or achieve a goal that is the more powerful motivator.