In my experience as a serial entrepreneur, I’ve learned there are recognizable behavior patterns that indicate success for entrepreneurs.
How do I know? Because I’m a successful entrepreneur myself. I started the first of my five companies 29 years ago, and grew it into a $30 million enterprise dedicated to helping other small businesses succeed. My success depends on knowing what makes entrepreneurs tick, and believe me, there are patterns.
1. The Black Sheep
“I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted to do my own thing,” she told us. “Even when I opened the store, people would come in and tell me how to run my business and say that I needed to go back to school. But I just ignored what they had to say. I knew what I was going to do, and I knew how I was going to do it–and I just did it.”
Black Sheep’s founder was a contrarian her whole life. While during many of those years she felt like she was going against the flow, she was really flowing towards being an entrepreneur.
2. Unafraid of Failure
Failure is one of life’s greatest teachers. It’s also a class most of us do everything in our power to avoid. If it’s a class you’d like to skip, then being an entrepreneur may not be for you.
Risk takers have learned things that the more risk-averse have not, like resilience, perseverance, owning mistakes, and trusting themselves. Often in business, those lessons are invaluable and prove the difference between success and failure. It’s one thing to say that you’re not afraid of failure; it’s another to have been knocked down and know you have what it takes to get back up.
3. Expert “Sleeve Roller”
Do you know someone who brags about how many job hats they wear at work? Well, if you’re a small business owner, you’d better have a big closet, because you’ll wear every job hat under the sun.
Sure, you can tell your buddies you’re the founder and CEO of a company, but you’ll also have the title of janitor, accountant, head of sales and advertising, legal counsel, security, chef, human resource director, payroll specialist, conflict resolution specialist, secretary, and, in some cases, mom or dad.
Suffice to say, running a business is hard work. If you’re used to rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands into the guts of something, you’ll be a pig in mud as an entrepreneur.
Lawyers, bankers, government officials: they’re the bullies of the small business world, and they’re all bigger than you.
If you want to run a business, you’re going to have to be able to stand up for yourself. Having some experience in this area really helps, whether it’s with schoolyard bullies, authority, sports, or beyond. Entrepreneurs are brave folk. If the prospect of running at odds with someone intimidating doesn’t scare you, entrepreneurship could be for you.
A lot of entrepreneurs get started by doing what they already know. For them, it’s not the work that makes it hard—it’s the vast array of flavors it comes in. Remember what I said about all those hats?
On the other hand, some people genuinely love diversity in the worklife. If you’re not able to adapt and absorb new information, or bend in ways that are outside your comfort zone, your business will fail—I promise. However,if you’re the kind of person who thrives on change and unpredictability, then being an entrepreneur is a perfect fit.
6. Excellent Communicator
You don’t need to impersonate Tony Robbins, but you should be able to speak in a way that key parties interested in your business can understand.
When I first started out in business I didn’t have this skill. I would rather be the guy in the casket than the guy asked to give the eulogy. But I knew that if I wanted my business to succeed, I had to be able to explain what my business model was, inspire others with it, and motivate people to invest their time, money, and sweat into it. It took me a long time, but I’m now a competent writer, and instead of wishing I were dead, I can speak to large groups about my current business plans and past business successes.
7. The Inquisitor
Are you the kind of person who, even though the speaker says, “We won’t be taking any questions,” raises their hand anyway?
Business ventures are humbling. You may know your craft, but you may not know how much legal, tax, regulatory, and governmental factors go into the operation. You may not understand how the accounting works, how the computers get set up, or even how to make your own business card. The only way you’re going to learn is to go out and ask. If you like searching for information and don’t mind looking clueless from time to time, you’ll find entrepreneurship satisfying.
As Ringo Starr sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Indeed, the more friends you have, the easier it will be for you to get by in business.
There is truth in the statement, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” So, if making friends and contacts comes naturally for you, you’re ahead of the game. The more people you have in your social network, the more potential sources of help, expertise, and insight you can call on.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t stop talking about all the business ideas I had. Now, way back when I was kid (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), it was odd for a child to talk about work as much as I did. My parents thought it was cute and humored me, assuming I’d grow out of it in time. Instead, I just kept growing into it. After while, when I was hiring employees at age 11, it became obvious that I was passionate about business well beyond the norm.
Why is passion so important? Why can’t it just be a strong interest or a good idea? Because, believe me, there will be times when you want to throw up your hands and walk away from it all.
Think of passion as an intense love. You’re going to have a romance with your business. There will be honeymoon periods, when everything is just magical. There will also be times when you really really hate the relationship. When those times come, it’s an inner passion that will keep you coming back to what you love and couldn’t imagine your life without.