Entrepreneurs are born not made – Really?

The idea that entrepreneurs are “born that way” has been the topic of debate in business schools for years (sorry Lady Gaga).

Perhaps this statement would be accurate if we were all born with an assigned task such as auto mechanic, web designer, or entrepreneur.  How many people do you know who grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to do in life?  I can’t think of one.  I have however, met an auto mechanic who after several years working for a franchise, quit his job to open and now owns a successful auto repair business.  I know a wonderful lady who, after staying home to raise her children started a now successful personal training business.  After years of teaching aesthetics, one of my “forty something” friends opened her own spa and just celebrated her second year in business!  None of these three would tell you they always knew they wanted to run their own business.   For different reasons, at some point in their lives they came upon an opportunity or a desire to venture out on their own.  Congratulations to all of them on their hard work and successes.

For those of you that are at a crossroad and considering self employment, we encourage you to take a good look at what you have to be or become in order run a successful business.

Building a Dream, by Walter S. Good lists the following as common attributes of successful entrepreneurs:

1. Creativity — have the ability to look at problems and needs from different angles and “think outside the box”

2. Goal-orientated — constantly set goals for themselves that challenge their creativity and strengths

3. Hard-working — willing to work long hours to complete tasks, go the extra mile

4. Commitment — remain focused on an idea or task

5. Willing to take the initiative — always want to be first, do not sit back and wait for others to take the initiative

6. Spirit of adventure — willing to try something new and different, pioneer

7. Positive attitude — do not let minor setbacks hinder their progress toward their overall goal

8. Self-confident — believe in themselves and their idea

9. Persistence — keep working at a problem until they solve it or find an alternative

10. Need to achieve — strong desire to accomplish something in life and leave a legacy

Skills necessary to run a successful enterprise  include:

  • Financial
  • Time Management
  • Technical
  • Sales
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Reading People
  • Research

Self assessment is one of the first steps in deciding on your new career as a small business owner.  Take a good look at your strengths and weaknesses and ask yourself those tough questions:

  • Are you prepared to make personal sacrifices including time away from your family?
  • Do you like talking to strangers about yourself?
  • Do you consider yourself detail oriented?
  • Do you keep good accounting records?  Do you know how to create a budget?
  • Do you like school?
  • Do you take rejection personally?
  • Do you have access to legal and financial assistance?

The Business Development Bank of Canada offers an online self assessment tool. You can also take a look at our Thinking of Entrepreneurship video for additional hints.

Self assessment will help you identify areas that you’ll need to invest in.  For example if you are not a great salesperson, you may want to include sales training in your start-up budget or think about hiring a salesperson.

Maybe you were “born that way”, but if you are like the majority of the clients we see, you have some skills and attributes necessary for success but might need to develop the rest. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is a necessary part of your research.

For more information about any of Halton Region’s Small Business Centre resources and services, contact us at 1-866-442-5866, by email smallbusinesss@halton.ca or online at www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, or visit us in person at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @haltonecdev and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HaltonSBEC.

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