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What It Really Takes to Be an Entrepreneur Our expert, Robert Reffkin, discusses what it takes to be successful and how entrepreneurship really has nothing to do with business ownership.

By Robert Reffkin Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: What qualities do I need to possess in order to be an entrepreneur?

-- Igbor Ubana

A: There's one common thread among every successful entrepreneur: An unwavering need to build that cannot be deterred by quantity or severity of challenges.

Being an entrepreneur is not in the slightest tethered to business ownership. Sure, the CEO of a nascent tech firm is, by definition, an entrepreneur, but that same company's engineer or salesperson has exactly the same opportunity to operate as an entrepreneur.

When I set out to build Compass, I knew I needed to recruit entrepreneurs, not employees. I needed a team that knew for certain that anything is possible and that every challenge has a solution. I needed people who would distort reality to realize our goals: conviction over intentions, solutions over implications, substance over style.

Related: The 17 Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

To this day, we are focused on building a company full of entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses within Compass, freely exchanging ideas, and merging multiple visions into a common objective to build the future of real estate.

So in practice, what qualities does it take to be an entrepreneur? Since we only hire entrepreneurs, the easiest way to answer that question is through our evaluation criteria. Whether in business, creative or technology, we evaluate candidates based on four fundamental questions:

The A+ player test: Are you the absolute best at what you do?

The question here is, quite simply, are you on a path to be in the top 0.1 percent of what you do? It is critical for entrepreneurs to pinpoint their talents and focus on performing these at the highest level. The best businesses are built through a cohesive team of specialized A+ players. You don't need to have a cursory knowledge of everything; instead, be the absolute best at one thing. Entrepreneurs don't need to own their business, but they do need to feel ownership of their craft.

Related: Are You An Entrepreneur Or a 'Wantrepreneur?'

The shower test: Are you passionate?

Do you come up with new ideas for your business in the shower? To be a true entrepreneur, you have to have an unrelenting passion for creation, regardless of the tools available at your disposal. Ingenuity in business is borne from a preoccupation -- some may say a fixation -- on using your skills to build something bigger than yourself.

The builder test: Do you see vacuums and fill them?

There are many people in this world that thrive by executing in streamlined, regimented work environments. But to be an entrepreneur, you need to be comfortable with the unknown. At heart, young companies embody the spirit of building -- creating something from nothing, filling voids. There will be financial obstacles, staff changes and growing pains throughout the process, and the ability to forge new paths is imperative to successful entrepreneurship.

The half-glass test: Do you see problems or opportunities?

The question is, as an aspiring entrepreneur, do your failures derail you, or do you view them as opportunities to adapt? It's not about being hopelessly optimistic; it's about knowing you're going to get knocked down and relishing the opportunity to keep getting back up.

As a company, fill your office with entrepreneurs, and they'll soon discover opportunities at every turn, crucial steps to push beyond those trying early stages and to make significant, long-term impact.

As an individual, take your focus off the org chart and the title on you business card and redefine yourself and your capabilities. Starting today, you're not just an employee; you're an entrepreneur.

Related: 15 Signs You're an Entrepreneur

Robert Reffkin

Founder and CEO of Compass

Robert is the founder and CEO of Compass, a technology-driven real estate company in New York and DC.

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