What Doesn't Kill You... Makes You an Entrepreneur?
Interested in starting your own business? Perhaps you’ve been a lifetime problem solver, go-getter, and modern day “bossy pants” since a young age. But do you have the natural befitting qualities required to take a stab at entrepreneurship?
Not to be a “Debbie Downer” (I prefer “Realistic Rebekah”), but, more often than not, I see people with entrepreneurial spirits mistake that drive for the ability to build, grow and sustain a business over months, years and decades. Being a ‘trep is no joke and requires not only certain natural traits, but also (as my mentor once said) a “wee bit of crazy.”
Some say entrepreneurship can be taught. But I 100 percent disagree. The principles can be taught, but the actual execution, skills and personality cannot. In fact, there is a great saying in clinical psychology: “genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” The same holds true for entrepreneurial success.
In other words, we may live in an environment built for innovators, but it’s also important to understand the psychographics of the entrepreneur.
How do you measure up with regard to the following?
Character: Successful serial entrepreneurs require several key traits. Above all, one’s power of persuasion and leadership skills are the most outstanding, according to Target Training International, Ltd., a research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., which recently published its data in a post on the Harvard Business Review blog.
In my opinion, you’re either persuasive or you aren’t, much like you’re a natural-born leader or you aren’t. The variables of one’s environment may or may not support the development of these skills, but, if you have these natural traits, chances are you have the personality fit for entrepreneurship.
Values: Value systems largely vary from person to person. Not only are ethical values largely subjective, objective values — seeking of pleasure or avoiding pain — similarly cross the spectrum. One thing remains certain, however: Those whom hold integrity and consistency with the upmost importance typify the entrepreneurial mindset. Did I mention pig-headedness?
Those who are instead wishy-washy in their value systems, or have no value system, make terrible leaders and lack the respect required to drive change.
Attitudes: Personality is mostly determined by genetics, but your attitude toward circumstances and things outside your control are indicative of your ability to build a thriving business. If you have a negative disposition, a “can’t do” attitude, or are generally defeatist in nature my first suggestion is, engage in some serious introspection. My second suggestion: After you look yourself over, ask yourself if you can realistically exchange your negativity for positivity?
Related: How to Make Criticism Drive You
Entrepreneurs are positive people. They are realistic and logical, but positivity is what keeps the ship sailing when all else looks bleak. It also makes them fun to be around, which is why they can seemingly move mountains.
Interests: Historical data is extremely helpful with regard to Interests. Can you think back far enough to remember your natural inclinations as a child? Did you enjoy challenges, disrupting the normal, questioning the status quo? Were you constantly “shaking things up” for a chance to improve yourself or those around you? Lemonade-standers unite here.
If, on the other hand, you were the kid holed up in the attic reading crime novels, getting straight A’s and never getting into trouble, you may have been the apple of your parents (and teacher’s) eye, but perhaps you’d better steer clear of entrepreneurship. Note that there are always exceptions.
Related: 4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths
Lifestyles: Up at 5 a.m. for a quick workout. Checking iPhone while running on the treadmill. Quick shower and back online around 7 a.m. to start the day. Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Quick coffee with that girl you think is cute then back to the office to fire your head of sales. Interview with a local paper. Another meeting. Check emails. 7 p.m. quick dinner. Then drinks with a possible strategic-business partner. Home, 11 p.m. Rinse and repeat.
And so it goes, sometimes for months on end… and often times for years. But this is the entrepreneur’s insanity, a.k.a. the drive that enables her or him to love mostly every minute of the above. To them, work is not work. It’s life.
Rebekah Iliff is the chief strategy officer for AirPR, a technology platform to increase public-relations performance that serves Fortune 500 and fast growing technology companies. Previously, she was the CEO of talkTECH Communications, where she created an industry-first methodology for emerging technology companies which positioned talkTECH as one of the fastest growing, launch-only PR firms in the U.S. Iliff holds a B.A. in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.A. in organizational management and applied community psychology from Antioch University at Los Angeles (AULA).