Men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, among others often seem like men that were born with all the innovation in the world because of how much they inspire ideas and at the same time daunt others.
Entrepreneurship is really not about being born a creative genius or a man or woman with an unshakable will that allows you to dive into a multitude of risks. It’s much more than that.
Scholars, business experts and venture capitalists say entrepreneurs can emerge at any stage of life and from any realm, and they come in all personality types and with any grade point average.
You really do not need to be an overachieving, super-organized hyper-workaholic with extrovert tendencies to be an entrepreneur.
In Nigeria today, entrepreneurs are really lacking, for a country that is in dire need of them. The question therefore is what makes a person an entrepreneur?
Is it simply the fact that they own a business of their own? Is it that they are willing to risk their money to get their products or services out to a customer base?
Is there a mindset that makes a person an entrepreneur? If so, can anyone learn it or is it something you are born with? “Am I an entrepreneur?” You may be asking.
There’s only one way to find out. Please, keep reading. Perhaps, what you are also asking is “Can I become an entrepreneur?” If that’s your question, a quick but true answer would be a ‘yes, you can’.
Entrepreneurs are not born but made through trainings and experiences. The character of an entrepreneur has been described variously in different fields of study. Sociologists, psychologists and economists have all attempted to give a clear picture of the entrepreneur.
Let’s explore some of the traits, characteristics and unique qualities that mark an entrepreneur and can show that you are a potential entrepreneur:
Qualities of Entrepreneurs
1. You are a free thinker who dislikes being told what to do
Who is anyone else to tell you what to do? No one, that’s who! In all seriousness though, entrepreneurs are leaders, not followers. Taking orders just isn’t your style.
An entrepreneur does not work as a worker bee. The approach of a worker bee is like that of a great majority of employees who do not like their jobs.
They go to work to collect a paycheque and stay because they are so in debt they cannot afford to consider anything else. Entrepreneurs know the way out!
The biggest problem especially in this part of the world, in Nigeria is to help people unleash the entrepreneurial mindset in their lives. The educational system in Nigeria encourages the employee mindset just too much.
Entrepreneurs do not think like worker bees. They stand out from the crowd because they are people who always think beyond the moment and look for better, unique or more efficient ways to do things.
They always think outside the box and abandon the employee mindset that looks to a short-term pay-cheque to building a powerful business that works for and at the same time pays them 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
They think foresightedly for long term goals and work as though they do not need the money they make out of their work.
2. You are an innovative problem solver
There’s no mystery that you can’t solve! If something seems complex, you’ve been known to take it apart and study it. From VCRs, to computers, to even the basic wind-up toy, you simply have to know how it works.
Entrepreneurs are innovative in their approach to change. They subscribe to the definition of insanity that says, “Insanity is continuing to do the same things you have always done, in the same ways you have always done them and expecting to see different results.”
They tend to think in non-conventional ways to challenge existing assumptions. Innovation rather than invention is considered the heart of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are constantly juggling potential implementation plans in their imagination, and so do most of their creative work in lost moments.
Additionally, and confirming the applied character of entrepreneurial creativity and ability to take initiative, it has been hypothesized that entrepreneurs have a talent for identifying the profit potential in ideas and events.
Taking initiative is clearly a hallmark of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs exist to defy conventional wisdom. In fact, simply starting a business breaks the rules, as only a few people in Nigeria own their businesses. Entrepreneurs are rule-breakers indeed.
Looking for better, unique or more efficient ways to do things always leads them from dreaming to finding ideas and opportunities to fulfill the dream.
3. You are tenacious and persistent
Stopping you is impossible. There’s no other way to put it. A setback to you, is just another experience to learn and benefit from.
Starting a business really, is quite a serious marathon. You have to be able to live with uncertainty and push through a crucible of obstacles for years on end. Entrepreneurs push hard and doggedly take initiative.
This quality is also attributed by many other names such as perseverance, persistence, determination, commitment, resilience, resolution, steadfastness, but it can simply be described by the old fashioned word, ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. “So much of entrepreneurship is dealing with repeated failure. It happens many times each week.”
When failure happens, you just have to start all over again. Entrepreneurs deal with obstacles because they know that a business does not get built overnight and turning an idea into a reality takes time. They are accustomed to people saying no to them.
They believe so strongly in their idea that they find the energy and courage to overcome many obstacles on the road to success and convince potential customers and financiers of their idea.
What makes entrepreneurs great is having the perseverance to grow regardless of how many times they are shut down.
4. You are passionate about your ideas
It is a general assumption that successful entrepreneurs are driven by money. But most will tell you they are fueled by a passion for their product or service, by the opportunity to solve a problem and make life easier, better, cheaper.
Entrepreneurs often believe they can “change the world” and that’s why there’s an excitement and belief in what they’re doing that gets them through the tough times.
Passion based on their believed specific idea and mission is an deep-rooted drive that provides the internal reward that sustains them between paydays.
It’s what makes them continue even when the money seems not to be coming in. They challenge the status-quo with so much zeal and enthusiasm that they set the pace and trend for others to follow.
5. You are an opportunity seeker
Entrepreneurs recognize, discover, identify and exploit opportunities. A defining trait of entrepreneurship is the ability to spot an opportunity and imagine something where others haven’t.
Entrepreneurs have a curiosity that identifies overlooked niches and puts them at the forefront of innovation and emerging fields. They imagine another world and have the ability to communicate that vision effectively to investors, customers and staff.
They seem to see the future before the future plays out and known to be mostly several steps ahead of the market, that’s why they are able to face naysayers.
Entrepreneurs seek and find opportunities by accessing information as well as creatively using that information to spot viable and feasible opportunities.
They seem to have cognitive abilities that enables them understand causal links and to see patterns in information. This also means they are capable of perceiving opportunities where others see risks.
6. You are are a risk taker
This is probably the trait of entrepreneurs that is most controversial and disliked by those with the ‘job security’ mindset, who prefer a life without risk and uncertainty.
This is classic characteristic of entrepreneurs – the ability to withstand the fear of uncertainty and potential failure.
Entrepreneurs are usually able to successfully manage risk in the form of fear – fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of losing money, missing payroll, running out of cash, bankruptcy and so on.
They know that while some situations may be uncertain, they still have some level of control over the outcome. Business founding obviously entails uncertainty and risk and risk taking has been viewed as a fundamental element of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs bear real uncertainty by making judgmental decisions in the face of incalculable and uninsurable business hazards. They often have to take decisions with incomplete information and thus must have considerable tolerance for ambiguity.
7. You are self-confident and proud of yourself
This doesn’t mean you’re stuck up or entitled, but rather that you are not afraid to be proud of your accomplishments and keeping on track of your goals. Success is a medal you wear on the inside, instead of the outside.
Self-confidence and self-belief is surely a key entrepreneurial quality. You have to be very sure your idea, product or service is something the world needs and that you can deliver it to overcome the naysayers, who will always deride what the majority has yet to validate.
Entrepreneurs have a belief in themselves and their abilities that turns the risk proposition around – they’ve conducted enough research and have enough confidence that they can get the job done and ameliorate the risk.
They have a lot of this kind of confidence that they are willing to take a risk while still being quite conservative. They know that if they do not truly and passionately believe in themselves and what they have to offer, no one else will.
8. You are flexible and willing to learn
To become an entrepreneur involves a learning process and entrepreneurs are always willing to learn, think about leaving the startup world.
Entrepreneurs soak in everything and anything additive and helpful they can, just like a sponge. The more they learn, the better. They believe in the saying that “One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions”, that’s why they are relentless in their pursuit for knowledge.
Business survival, like that of biological species, really depends on adaptation. To entrepreneurs, final products or services likely won’t look anything like what they started with.
Flexibility that allows them to respond to changing tastes and market conditions is their hallmark, that is also why they have a willingness to be honest with themselves and say, ‘This isn’t working.’ They know when to pivot.
9. You are target-oriented and love to set goals
Not just in the sense of passively making plans, but actual deadlines and landmarks to reach that you are sprinting for aggressively. Your time is precious and you spend it getting to exactly where you want to be.
10. You keep a cool head in a crisis
A crisis can make anyone lose their cool – its a crisis, for goodness sake! Not for you, however. You are the problem-solver, a level-headed leader who is ready to fix the problem and carry on.
An entrepreneur knows that a crisis is bound to happen at some point, but instead of being afraid, they are prepared.
Now it’s your turn: Entrepreneurship is so much more than a 9-hour day job because entrepreneurs don’t breathe without thinking about progressing their business aspirations and ideas.
Can you now try answering the questions posed at the beginning of this article? These are questions you should start asking yourself even as a student. “Am I really an entrepreneur? If not, can I become one?” I promised you’d be able to after reading this.
If you have an idea you’d like to turn into a reality, go for it. You’ll never know the outcome if you don’t try. Please, share your answers, thoughts, experiences and opinions about this in the comments section below.
Credit: NigerianScholars, Entrepreneur