Elizabeth W. Gordon, founder and President of The Flourishing Business, LLC, is a visionary leader who has a passion for helping others achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and enjoy more of the best in life. With a vast and diverse background in many business arenas, Elizabeth regularly has the opportunity to share her business acumen with clients, large and small. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Atlanta and the Board of Directors of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Atlanta. She is an Accredited Executive Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) and a certified Life Coach.
How do you know whether you can be a successful entrepreneur, or if you are better off as a salaried employee? Everyone has bad days at work, when they start to fantasize about how great it would be to be their own boss. But before you make any drastic moves, it is wise to do a bit of self reflection to determine if this is really something you’ll be naturally suited for. Although there isn’t a tried and true formula for success, studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs share many common characteristics. Do you possess any of these personality traits? Many of them? If so, you may be a natural entrepreneur, a person who is inherently better suited for owning your own business than working for someone else.
Owning and running a business is a creative, challenging and highly rewarding way to become your own boss and chart your own future. It’s about creating and finding a better way to do things, offering customers a new choice that is of value to them. In addition to making your own living, it is also about providing opportunities to help others advance as well, whether it is through job creation or simply by hiring other contractor firms. Ultimately you want to create a business that you run, instead of it running you, and hopefully it will make you a nice little fortune in the process. It takes courage, determination and foresight to decide to become an entrepreneur. Leaving the relatively safe corporate world, where paychecks arrive regularly, and benefits are guaranteed, you will be venturing into the uncharted territories of business and it can be a daunting adventure, but if you’ve got what it takes, it can be the best challenge you ever face. I have met many people who have made this decision without really thinking through all of the long term implications or really what their long term goals are for the venture, and the ideal role that they would play in the company. I can tell you from experience that you will be able to achieve far greater results in your business more quickly if you take the time early on to determine what characteristics you possess that will be your entrepreneurial strengths and where any weaknesses may lie so you can be aware of them and hire and outsource to bolster them.
While there is no recipe for success, most successful entrepreneurs share many common characteristics. To determine whether you can be a successful entrepreneur, or if you are better off to work for somebody else, see if any of these sound like you:
1. Big dreams. To attain the kind of success that you want, you need to dream big. Every success story starts with big dreams. You don’t hear Oprah saying that she wanted to just pay the rent and get by. She had big dreams. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur you need to have big dreams for yourself. Just making enough to pay the bills or getting a few customers is not enough of an aspiration to fuel you forward. Make no mistake; this journey will not be an easy haul, so you really need one heck of a carrot out there to motivate yourself to keep pushing. Similarly, success is not achieved in a vacuum; your dream needs to not only inspire you it needs to inspire others as well. Your dream should be something that others will believe in, see as worthwhile and want to support. Your dream needs to include being wealthy or famous but it definitely should center on being fulfilled. Do not enter this race to be just another runner, but do not feel that you need to be the winner or else your efforts will be in vain. Many small companies have done a great job at providing a unique value to a select niche market that has lead to great results for them. These companies have made an impact on targeted people and on businesses, communities or organizations. They didn’t just sell something; they made a difference, caused change, made things better, easier, faster, more effective or made something never possible before, possible.
2. Clarity and vision. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Along with dreaming big you should actively visualize success in your mind so that you can almost feel it, touch it or see that it is within your reach. You should play this image back at every opportunity. What does it feel to triple your current income? How will your life change? What will your business look like if you achieved the million-dollar mark? It is not enough to just think that you can wait and see what happens. You must be able to see what happens before it does happen, that is how you make it happen. Successful entrepreneurs possess an attitude of openness and faith that they can have what they want if they can simply envision it as the first step on the path of action to acquiring it.
3. Passion for what you do. As an entrepreneur you started a business to change your life, to create something better, something more. You saw a need, an opportunity. To attain this change successfully, you need to develop or uncover an intense, personal passion to change the way things are. A passionate person lives life to the fullest, has a lot of energy to give, and their passion inspires others and that passion sells. It is not enough to just have a good product or service, you must have passion. Success comes easily if you have a great love of what you do. Why is that? Because we are more relentless in our pursuit of goals about things that we love. If you hate your job right now, do you think you will ever be successful at it? Never. You may trudge along, even become competent at the tasks, but you will never be a great success at it. You will achieve peak performance and do what you have to do to succeed only if you are doing something that interests you or something that you care deeply about. Entrepreneurs who succeed do not mind the fact that they are putting in 18 hours a day in their business because they absolutely love what they do and they believe in their mission.
4. Openness to new knowledge. You don’t need a degree in business to succeed at your own business. Studies show that most self-made millionaires have average intelligence. Nonetheless, these people reached their full potential and achieved their financial and personal goals in business because they were willing to learn. To succeed, you must be willing to ask questions, remain curious and open to new knowledge. This willingness to learn becomes more crucial given the rapid changes in technologies and ways of doing business and those that are open to change based on knowledge are the ones that have the best chance of being successful. Become a student of business best practices. You will want to learn about other businesses and strategies that have worked and see if you can adopt them to your business. Sticking with what you know because it’s all you know is never the best option. As soon as someone decides he knows it all, it is all over. There is a wealth of knowledge out there; those who find the knowledge that will best serve them and then put it to work are those who reap great rewards.
5. Health and high energy. I mentioned long hours before. It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to put in two normal work days for every one weekday as well as spend time on the weekends in their business, especially in the first two years. In addition to mental dedication, this takes physical stamina as well. You need to be able to put this kind of extra stress on your body without it taking a toll on your health or on your personal life. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime are highly recommended because they will strengthen your body and your mind to enable you to deal with this better. Many successful entrepreneurs say that they don’t need very much sleep. They are fine with four or five hours a night and wake up full of energy. As a small business you are not going to have a huge marketing budget or the best of anything from a resource standpoint, so you need to make up for this lack with your high energy level. People love energetic people and they tend to make natural assumptions about their success level, their intelligence and their competence based on this energy.
6. Persistence and faith. The people who say that the road to success is easy are forgetting the drive it took to get them there. Even with all the hard work and good intentions imaginable many entrepreneurs will fail. Some successful entrepreneurs suffered setbacks and defeats and even bankruptcy, but they managed to stand up again and make it big in their fields. The courage to persist in the face of adversity and ability to bounce back after a temporary disappointment will assure your success. An entrepreneur must learn how to pick up and start all over again. Persistence is the measure of the belief in yourself and if you persist you can succeed.
7. Discipline. Self-discipline is the key to success. You should be getting into work routines and forcing yourself to stick to those routines. If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur you have to have self-discipline. It cannot be a thing that you strive for and think about. It must be a part of who you are and how you operate. Going the extra mile for your business is not just a bonus it is a necessity for a successful business and successful entrepreneurs know it.
8. Self confidence and optimism. Successful entrepreneurs know that they are going to be successful. They refuse to have let the possibility of failure enter into their minds. They don’t see setbacks and think that they are on the road to closing their business and giving up. As an entrepreneur, you need to fully believe in your goals, and that you can do it even in the face of adversity. You should have a strong conviction in your business, in your capabilities and in yourself. You must believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the ability to succeed and not let that belief be shaken. The more you can develop faith in your ability to achieve your goals, the more rapidly you can attain it. However, your confidence should be balanced with calculated risks that you need to take to achieve greater rewards. Blustering forward with full confidence but without thinking through all of the risks is not the mark of a successful entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs calculate risks and take setbacks as lessons learned that will not be repeated.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard work. It takes time and effort and a certain drive, but it can be one of the most rewarding and best things you do in life. Achieving your long term business goals will require energy and endurance. Commitment is what will keep you on task and having a flourishing business is the end reward for that work. For more information about how becoming a successful entrepreneur, visit www.flourishingbusiness.com.