Lots of people come to me for advice on starting a small business. Typically, they’re looking for guidance on the technical aspects of what it takes to get their business off the ground: What type of legal entity do I choose? How should I go about writing a business plan? But while these business fundamentals are important for a new entrepreneur to know in order to avoid start-up mistakes, there is another aspect new business owners should consider — and that’s what type of personality it takes to succeed.
Regardless of the type of business, there are some common personality traits most entrepreneurs share that are important ingredients for success. I strongly recommend evaluating your own personality to see if you have the right stuff to go it on your own.
First, to be a successful business owner it’s important to be a self-starter. When you are an employee, most of your projects and tasks are assigned by someone else. You generally know what you are supposed to do, when it is to be completed, and how it is to be performed.
However, when you start your own business, there is no one to assign anything to you. All the business operations, including drumming up business, rest on your shoulders. A lot of new business owners spin their wheels at first. They do what I call “busy work.” They don’t focus on the important actions they need to take to build their business. Successful entrepreneurs see opportunities all around them and they have an inherent sense of how to get things done and make things happen.
Secondly, you should be comfortable working alone. Most startups are one man/woman shows. In fact, a lot of companies today start off as home-based businesses. When you don’t have a neighbor to kibitz with in the next cubicle or a co-worker to chat with in the coffee room, you may start to feel isolated and alone — which can impact your productivity and undermine your success.
Consider your motivation for starting your business. If by starting your own business you are happily escaping from dealing with a boss, think again. When you are a business owner, you don’t have one boss, you have many bosses called customers and clients. Also, if you are looking at business ownership as a way to create more work/life balance, don’t do it. Successfully launching a small business requires more time commitment and work effort than any job you’ve ever had!
Finally, entrepreneurs are risk-takers so you should understand your personal risk tolerance. Not only does starting a business involve financial risk, but there is also personal risk. You must be willing to go beyond your comfort zone and make personal sacrifices along the way.
However, while starting and building a successful business is risky, it is also an exciting and rewarding experience.
So if you think you have an entrepreneurial personality, enjoy the journey. Here’s to your success!