21 April 2010

10 Signs You Might Be Cut Out for Entrepreneurship

I was walking at the park with a new friend last week and we got to talking about our careers and the paths that had gotten us to where we are today, professionally.

And I realized this: there's something in some of us that makes entrepreneurship--creating our own work in the world, being self employed--the most desirable option. For some of us, the only tolerable option.

Photo by Coolm36.

For others of us, the art of being self employed is not even ever a consideration. It's either not on our radar or just not on our list of socially or personally acceptable, viable options. The thought of designing a work life out of one's own talents and prospective clients' perceived needs...well, that just doesn't cross some people's minds.

So I asked myself: what ARE the characteristics of those of us who are likely to choose entrepreneurship?

Here are 10 signs you might be cut out for entrepreneurship:

1. You're an idea person. And not just a dreamy, impractical idea person, but someone who instinctively knows how to give an idea legs. You don't just sit around and say, wouldn't that be cool? You actually get out of your chair and make a plan to see if it's cool.

2. You're an incurable optimist. You believe that things generally work out for the best--even when things work themselves out in a way that others would perceive as a fail. You believe that every deep experience lends itself to learning.

3. You like change. You might even crave it. You'd rather shake things up than wallow or stagnate.

4. You're willing to sacrifice more than the average person would to take a chance on a dream working out. This means you see short and even medium-term sacrifices such as preferred housing, discretionary income, stability in some relationships, and a nice budget for clothing and groceries as all part of the bigger picture. You are willing to forgo some comfort and joy today to get to what you might be able to attain later.

5. You're a self-starter. And a good self-manager. You don't need someone looking over your shoulder--or dangling a paycheck--to get a job done. You don't even really need praise or encouragement. Your satisfaction comes primarily from the process of creation.

6. You bounce back easily. Your setbacks are very short-term and you somehow always find a way to rise again. Or, things always just seem to work out okay for you, even better than okay. Others might say you seem to have good luck, or good karma.

7. You don't dwell on things and people that are out of your control. {Or you get really mad or frustrated and then use it to fuel your next move or decision in a healthy, productive way.}

8. You speak as though the outcome you want already exists. You don't have delusions of grandeur and you're not a liar or a bull*hitter. But you know how to position yourself in the today to apprehend what hasn't happened yet in the time-space continuum most people can see. Whoh. That sounds a little crazy. But you're okay with that, because that's how you think. You don't have to be all loud about it, but it works for you.

9. You're your own toughest critic--and your own best friend. At different times, you need to be both.

10. You have an uncanny sense of when it's time to shift or make a change. You identify what's not working and are intent on finding a solution. Or you know when to quit, as so aptly described in The Dip, a book by one of my marketing heroes, Seth Godin. This trait can sometimes creep your friends and acquaintances out, as you jump from one Big Thing to another Big Thing without so much as a backward glance. But you always seem to know what you're doing.

Entrepreneurs, what characteristics or personality traits did I leave off the list? Leave a comment and tell me about it!



Perfect Home said...

You are right on the money with this post. Take it from an old time entrepreneur from the age of 22... eons ago! Not to pat myself on the back, but as I read through your list I thought "yep...yep...yep". I know I wouldn't have survived this long without the traits you wrote about, I just never expressed as well as you did. Great post!

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Ooh, thanks for the validation, Reesa! I'll take it from a long time entrepreneur. :)

I read somewhere once...maybe Jay Goltz's book on entrepreneurship or his NYTimes column...that the qualities that make people great entrepreneurs are *the same qualities* that sometimes make them less-than-great friends, parents, partners, children, etc. In other words, the entrepreneur's drive to innovate, to take risks, to never be satisfied, can be liabilities in the context of a personal relationship.

Any thoughts on that?

Susan said...

You know your market...you may love it...but...flexibility...indeed...
we indies are the Cirque troupe of retail.

I often quote a sign I saw at one of the first trade shows I attended...The two most overrated things are Mom's apple pie and owning your own business...

I think we need to be able to separate personal from business...I love my shop, but I do not live there. It is a reflection of me, but I am more than stuff for sale. I think many business owners forget to divide conquer. Businesses can be branded; people cannot.


Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hey, Susan--

Wow, so much here to chew on it took me a day or so to figure out where I wanted to start. :)

Nodding my head in emphatic agreement that basing your identity on the success of your business is NOT a good thing. Businesses "fail" every day {especially ones with high overhead}, and if your personal self worth and identity are tied to your business doing well, then you've got a problem if it tanks, don'tcha?

I think all small businesses should be established on a scale that the entrepreneur can reasonably maintain for a couple years, STARTING on day one, as they grow, learn, evolve, and work out the kinks. Starting too big and investing too much from the jump is a recipe for *disastre*{pronouncing this with a strong French accent}.

So on some level, every entrepreneur should be able to see their biz as something outside of herself. YOU ARE NOT YOUR BIZ. You are its creator, but IT is not YOU. {Metaphor for Christians and other spiritual people: God created you. Are you God? I hope not!}

BUT...and Susan, this is where we might differ {I think}...I do believe that for some types of niche-y businesses, the PRACTICE of our biz each day is very much an extension of who we are. So there's our business: the financial stuff, the administrative stuff, the marketing stuff. And then there's our PRACTICE, which is very much entwined with our identity. And I think that's okay.

I, for one, am a much happier person now that I'm creating a biz model that more closely aligns with ME, my values, my interests, my natural talents, my strengths, and my desired lifestyle than my first biz did. And I feel this shift with the money, too. It's like the money piece has opened up for me now that I'm doing what I'm actually gifted at and what comes pretty easily to me, not just what I THINK I might be able to do and THINK would be cool.

And as far as personal branding, there are people who build entire biz empires on teaching and modeling personal branding, and there are lots and lots of radically effectual personal brands out there. Dan Schawbel is one {DanSchawbel.com}--I don't like his site aesthetically but he does a *great* job of teaching the personal brand and providing lots of resources around it.

Here's the definition of "personal branding" from Wikipedia {which we all know is the expert on EVERYTHING ;):


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Susan said...

"It's like the money piece has opened up for me now that I'm doing what I'm actually gifted at and what comes pretty easily to me, not just what I THINK I might be able to do and THINK would be cool."

Aha! How many independents forget to consider that money piece of the puzzle? How many assume because they love it everyone else will also?

Schwabel's mantra is "discover, create, communicate, maintain." For many small shop owners the maintenance is key...and maybe Trump can brand a building, a casino and even water...remember when he tried to market water??? But he has a name that enables him to use play money...the shop owner out there has to have real money...

I still think branding is ironic --a way to be an individual in today's world where instead of "doing your own thing," everyone does the same thing...oxymoron, fellow English teacher...if the economy were flying high, no one would even give this a second thought. Look at where branding started...in the 80s...remember the last crash...

I think the new world has changed business forever...just as there are super empowered individuals vs super powers now...the independent retailer needs to be far more creative to battle the brands of Target, WM, TJs (Maxxinista, anyone??)

Thanks for taking the time to process my thoughts...I do appreciate it!


Abby Kerr Ink said...

>I think the new world has changed business forever...just as there are super empowered individuals vs super powers now...the independent retailer needs to be far more creative to battle the brands of Target, WM, TJs (Maxxinista, anyone??)<

Hells to the yes! I agree. :)