Do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? Having a great concept is not enough. An entrepreneur must be able to develop and manage the company that implements his or her idea. Being an entrepreneur requires special drive, perseverance, passion, and a spirit of adventure, in addition to managerial and technical ability. Entrepreneurs are the company; they tend to work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and cannot leave problems at the office at the end of the day. They also share other common characteristics as described in the next section.
The Entrepreneurial Personality
Studies of the entrepreneurial personality find that entrepreneurs share certain key traits. Most entrepreneurs demonstrate multiple of the following traits:
— Ambitious: They are competitive and have a high need for achievement.
Independent: They are individualists and self-starters who prefer to lead rather than follow.
— Self-confident: They understand the challenges of starting and operating a business and are decisive and confident in their ability to solve problems.
— Risk-takers: Although they are not averse to risk, most successful entrepreneurs favor business opportunities that carry a moderate degree of risk where they can better control the outcome over highly risky ventures where luck plays a large role.
— Visionary: Their ability to spot trends and act on them sets entrepreneurs apart from small-business owners and managers.
— Creative: To compete with larger firms, entrepreneurs need to have creative product designs, bold marketing strategies, and innovative solutions to managerial problems.
— Energetic: Starting and operating a business takes long hours. Even so, some entrepreneurs start their companies while still employed full-time elsewhere.
— Passionate. Entrepreneurs love their work, as Miho Inagi demonstrated by opening a bagel shop in Tokyo despite the odds against it being a success.
— Committed. Because they are so committed to their companies, entrepreneurs are willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve their goals.
Managerial Ability and Technical Knowledge
A person with all the characteristics of an entrepreneur might still lack the necessary business skills to run a successful company. Entrepreneurs need the technical knowledge to carry out their ideas and the managerial ability to organize a company, develop operating strategies, obtain financing, and supervise day-to-day activities.
Good interpersonal and communication skills are important in dealing with employees, customers, and other business associates such as bankers, accountants, and attorneys. Many entrepreneurs believe they can learn these much-needed skills. When Jim Steiner started his toner cartridge remanufacturing business, Quality Imaging Products, his initial investment was $400. He spent $200 on a consultant to teach him the business and $200 on materials to rebuild his first printer cartridges. He made sales calls from 8.00 a.m. to noon and made deliveries to customers from noon until 5:00 p.m. After a quick dinner, he moved to the garage, where he filled copier cartridges until midnight, when he collapsed into bed, sometimes covered with carbon soot. And this was not something he did for a couple of months until he got the business off the ground—this was his life for 18 months.9 But entrepreneurs usually soon learn that they can’t do it all themselves. Often they choose to focus on what they do best and hire others to do the rest.
Text adapted from Introduction to Business, OpenStax under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-business/pages/1-introduction