For many people in the United States, entrepreneurship is the dream. The freedom that comes with owning your own business and working on your own terms is enticing. Many want it, but few take the steps of actually achieving it.
Entrepreneurship is hard. The freedom and rewards that come with being a successful entrepreneur come coupled with great risk. Before you ever get to the point of making a profit, or even achieving financial security, you’ll face many days of hard work at least, or moments of outright failure at worst.
Before you go down the path of entrepreneurship, you should really consider if it’s right for you. If you realize too late that you’re not really cut out for it, the consequences can be serious.
Here are a few of the prerequisites that make it more likely you’ll succeed.
7 Traits Entrepreneurs Need
While some things can be learned, some of what makes an entrepreneur lies in your character. Do you have these seven traits?
Many successful entrepreneurs fail before they succeed. Discussions about the value of failure are so common in the business world as to be cliché. The people who reach the point of running a sustainable business are frequently those who keep going and try again after the first business they start fails (or even the second or third).
This goes along with the resilience. In order to keep going in the face of failure – which can and will be emotionally devastating – you have to be passionate about entrepreneurship and passionate about the business you’re building. To put in the hours and take on the risk, you really have to care.
To take the steps necessary to branch out on your own, you have to possess a certain comfort taking risks. You could lose everything and have to start from scratch. Are you prepared to tackle the unknown?
You could have everything else in this post down, but if the business idea you have isn’t something people care about or are interested in, you won’t get too far. Every business starts with an idea for something people need or can benefit from.
Life’s uncertain for everyone, but when you’re hitching your fate to a new business, you’re embracing more uncertainty than most. If you can depend on one thing in entrepreneurship, it’s how unpredictable running a business is. You have to be willing to adapt to whatever life throws your way in order to keep going.
It may sound cheesy, but it’s true: in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to believe you can. Without confidence, you’re unlikely to ever take the first step, much less every hard step that follows. If you’re certain you have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed though, your odds of getting there immediately shoot up.
Confidence matters, but only as long as it doesn’t reach the point of arrogance. No matter how smart and skilled you are, you’re still going to need help from other people who know more. The entrepreneurs that get the best results learn how to recognize their limits and ask for help from early on.
7 Skills Entrepreneurs Need
Running any business requires possessing (and using) a good mix of skills. Some of these you can learn to get better at as you go, but you’ll definitely fare better if you work to gain them before you get started.
1. Research skills
You don’t know everything you need to know to run a successful business. That means you need to get to work learning more. Even when it comes to needs you can hire for, you want to know enough about what you need to make a smart hiring decision. So get ready to do some serious sitting, searching, and reading.
Businesses only come to fruition when the person starting them has a plan. You not only have to plan the steps you need to take to get your business running successfully, you also need to be able to follow through on those steps. People who run businesses have to be good at both planning and executing.
3. Good at managing people
No good entrepreneur can be an island. Businesses are made up with people and, even before you get to the point of hiring a full staff, you’ll need the help of other people. Good managers are respectful of the people working for them and pay attention to their strengths.
4. Ability to delegate
You can’t do everything. One of the most important skills every entrepreneur should have is recognizing what you can’t do and be willing to let someone else take it on. Trusting someone else with an important part of running your business can be hard, particularly if you see the business as your baby, but it’s crucial.
5. Skill at selling
You know your idea is great, but can you convince other people of its worth? Being able to make a persuasive pitch is a big part of getting anywhere in business. Whether you’re talking to investors or courting new customers, you need to be able to sell what you’re doing.
6. Skill for recognizing talent
In addition to managing people well, you have to be good at finding the right people. When you hire the right people your business will run smoothly.
7. Communication skills
Effective communication is necessary for every task you take on in running a business. You need to be able to communicate with your investors, your employees, contractors you work with, your customers, and the press – just to name a few. You can have the most amazing ideas, but if you can’t communicate them to make other people see their value too, you won’t accomplish much.
3 Resources Entrepreneurs Need
The entrepreneur who came from nothing and earned millions is a story we’ve all heard a hundred times. But no entrepreneur can really start with nothing. The hard truth, is that you do need more than a good idea to start a business. You need access to these three things.
Depending on the type of business you’re going into, you may not need all that much capital, but even if you’re starting a one-person business offering services, you’d still need enough money for a website and business cards. If you don’t have the capital needed to start your business, then you’ll need the ability to raise it from somewhere. That could be investors, loans, family members, or a Kickstarter campaign. You’ve probably got more options today for raising money than entrepreneurs have at any other point in history. Work out what you need and figure out how you’re going to go about getting it.
2. Necessary tech
In today’s economy, running pretty much any type of business will require technology and some types of businesses will need to invest in a lot of it. At the very least, you’ll need a computer with a few types of basic software, like a word processor and access to accounting software. Chances are, you’ll need a number of other technology products besides, like web hosting, a project management software, or a shared calendaring system. Your needs will be particular to your business model, but you should expect to need some technology in order to be successful in your efforts.
3. Good people
You’d have a hard time trying to find a successful entrepreneur that doesn’t attribute their success to the help of the people around them. That certainly includes employees, but even before you get to the point of hiring people, you’ll likely find you need to lean on and learn from a number of other people in your life. Seek out business mentors. Develop and show your appreciation for your friends and family, since they’ll be your support network. A lot of the work of building a business will be on your shoulders as an entrepreneur, but you can’t expect to do it all alone.
Do you have, or can you get, all of these things? If so, then you just might be cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.