“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation." It's now time to see if your natural characteristics and "talents" are those of an entrepreneur. This chapter will give you a big picture context. The objective is to see if the descriptions of an entrepreneur resonate with you. You're going to apply the 80 percent rule. If 80 percent of what's described in this chapter defines you, there's a good chance you're an entrepreneur at heart.
That's only the first step, though. In the following chapter, we'll define an entrepreneur's six essential traits. At that point, the 100 percent rule will take over. It's all or nothing from then on. You either have those six traits, or you don't. Let's begin now and see if entrepreneurship is your calling. As the words inscribed above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in ancient Greece put it: “Know thyself."
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
An entrepreneur is an idea generator, a dreamer. You have lots of ideas, both good and bad. No one gets it right all of the time. You're very creative and great at coming up with solutions and improvements, either by creating something new or improving on something that already exists.You're a learner. You're curious. You enjoy discovering new things and learning about them. You want to grow, reach, push the envelope. You're more comfortable with the discomfort of stretching than the contentment of the status quo.
You see the big picture. You're able to connect the dots, an ability that's almost a sixth sense. You have street smarts and common sense. Your mindset is one that's always thinking about the future. You make decisions from your gut, and they're usually proven right, or you push hard to make them right.
You're a great strategic thinker and very persuasive. When you lock in on an objective, nothing stops you. You win people over with your passion and excitement for the project at hand. You're inspirational to those around you, whether selling them something or getting them to follow you and your thinking.
You're also passionate and obsessive. When you get focused on an idea, a problem to solve, a product to create, or something to build, you have unlimited energy. Once you see an image in your mind, there's no stopping you, regardless of whether what you see is actually possible or not. You're an optimist, and believe every cloud has a silver lining. This is a common entrepreneurial trait.
An entrepreneur has a strong work ethic. You can outwork almost anyone. You lose track of time when you're focused on accomplishing a goal. You're driven, ambitious, and self-motivated. A fire burns inside you, and you have a tremendous sense of urgency. A hunger. A desire to be successful. You're relentless.
You're financially motivated and want to make a lot of money. Not because you're greedy, but because you want to provide for your family. yourself, and others. You have a burning desire to be financially independent. It's unfortunate that wanting to make a lot of money sometimes has a negative connotation. In the early 1900s, many people wanted to be millionaires, and becoming one was respected. My experience is that most entrepreneurs want to make a lot of money, and most are extremely generous with their money. As marketing guru Joe Polish says, "Entrepreneurs solve problems for a profit."
You have the toughness to stick it out. Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, defines grit as "passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals." She makes the point that "success rarely comes about because of intelligence, IQ, or even talent. Grit is the determining factor of success. I've never met a true entrepreneur that didn't have grit. With it comes tenacity, commitment, a strong will, dedication, stubbornness, obstinacy, determination, resiliency, and persistence."
You tend to be dominant and can be overpowering. With your strong ambition, you're naturally competitive. Winning is important to you. You're hungry and want to be the best, so you're goal oriented and have a clear sense of urgency. You have a strong business acumen. You may not necessarily understand a financial statement, but you see the big financial picture. Simply put, you know how to make money and have typically demonstrated this ability since a young age.
Let's look at an example of this characteristic. When Joe Haney, the founder of Sterling Insurance Group, was thirteen years old, the concrete wall that separated his family's house from their neighbors' fell into their yard. It caused quite a big mess. Joe's dad offered him $2,500 to clean up the huge pile of broken concrete, and Joe agreed to do it. Being an entrepreneur-in-the-making, Joe realized he could hire his friends to do the job and still make a nice profit.
When Joe's dad came home from work the next day, he saw Joe's friends removing the collapsed wall and asked Joe, "Why aren't you doing the work?" Joe replied, "I am." Joe's dad laughed with frustration and pride, as he knew he had an entrepreneur-in-the-making on his hands.
If you're an entrepreneur, your mind works like Joe's. You see opportunities to make money. Not only that, but you also tended to sell stuff in your younger years, be it lemonade, candy, T-shirts, or whatever.
An entrepreneur is a risk taker, which means that once you see the aren't afraid to challenge the status quo and be a change maker and disrupter. You're a rebel by nature and take great pride in that. You aren't a rule take total responsibility. While you aren't afraid to take the ball and run with it, you're totally accountable for the outcome. You blame no one else if there's a fumble.
A Geneva Business School article, "5 Tell Tale Signs You're an Entrepreneur in the Making," lists the following characteristics:
- You don't need to be told what to do.
- You have hobbies.
- You act now and beg for forgiveness later.
- You like to think outside the box.
- You have fire.
This is an extract from Gino Wickman's Entrepreneurial Leap published by Benbella Books