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Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur? These Values and Behaviors Are Your Guide The worst thing that can happen is that you will fail — and then you will really be on the road to entrepreneurial success!

By Tom Lewis

Key Takeaways

  • History has shown that great companies are created by hard work and constant improvement.
  • Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work: at least 60 hours per week, and you can't quit. It's risky — you might go broke.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurship is getting a lot of love these days and for a good reason. The speed of change is occurring at such a pace that old ways are quickly becoming obsolete, creating new opportunities in every sector for those with ambition, skills, and the necessary personal characteristics for entrepreneurial success.

Many people dream of starting their own businesses, but take it from me; it's not easy. It took me eighteen years to prepare so that I could be successful. Individuals who can start large companies (over $50 million per year in sales) are rare, but if you have the drive, you are halfway there. The other half is preparing yourself to succeed.

We all know that entrepreneurs need to understand the customer, possess basic business skills and communicate their vision. However, little is said about the basic characteristics that highly correlate with successful entrepreneurs. Much of the popular literature on the subject focuses on teamwork, passion, creativity, and other soft skills. Still, a lot of hard behavioral evidence shows that the most successful entrepreneurs have a predictable pattern of behaviors and values that has little correlation to "teamwork" and "passion."

There are many behavioral models for successful entrepreneurs. Based on my experience, I have learned that the most important features of a successful entrepreneur are three specific behavioral traits and three motivating values.

Related: 5 Qualities Of Successful Entrepreneurs

The behavioral traits needed are that you should be assertive (you are both dominant and persuasive and are driven to solve problems and overcome obstacles), fast-paced (you like a lot of action and change), and persistent (you are resilient, won't quit, and love the grind).

The three motivating values are that you should be utilitarian (you value efficiency and return on investment, don't like to waste anything, and are motivated by economics), individualistic (you see yourself as a person who makes things happen, are constantly improving, like to compete and win and are motivated by recognition), and theoretical (you are motivated by knowledge and love to learn new things).

Although these traits can correlate to entrepreneurial success, many intangible qualities of the human spirit are not measurable and can make a huge difference. Ultimately, all entrepreneurs have to work hard, initiate, take risks, and be very good at what they do. They will be rewarded directly for the value they bring to their customers — just ask Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Entrepreneurship also requires some business skills (like accounting and people management) that take most of us a while to learn. At its core, an entrepreneur is an independent businessperson who must plan, organize, motivate and control.

Entrepreneurs also have to initiate new things and have the drive to overcome all the obstacles in the way — and there are always many obstacles! Then, you have to take personal and financial risks — calculated risks — that will make most people uncomfortable.

Before you invest your time in becoming an entrepreneur, I'd also like to explain some realities about entrepreneurship that I have learned and debunk some common myths.

  • You may hear that it is "all about great ideas," but it is really about solving a market problem.
  • You may hear it is "all about the team" but mostly about the leader.
  • You may hear that it is "all about passion," but it is really about adding value for customers.
  • You may hear it is "all about strategy," but it is really about execution.
  • You may hear it is "all about growth," but it is really about constant improvement.

Related: 15 Weird and Wonderful Side Hustles You Never Knew Existed

But, there are many advantages to being an entrepreneur. You can be your own boss, make the decisions and set the agenda. You can customize the business around your skills and dreams. You can create jobs and careers for others and improve your community and the world!

On the other hand, there are several disadvantages to being an entrepreneur. You have few days off. It takes a lot of work: at least 60 hours per week, and you can't quit. It's risky — you might go broke. It's not easy. There are a lot of struggles along the way, and it takes a long time to realize the dream.

If entrepreneurship still sounds appealing to you, I advise jumping in and getting to work. History has shown that great companies are created by hard work, clear values, and constant improvement, not by one great new idea.

Tom Lewis

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of T.W. Lewis Company

Tom Lewis is an award-winning businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the Owner and CEO of T.W. Lewis Company, known for its outstanding quality in the homebuilding industry. Lewis is the author of the best-selling book “Solid Ground: A Foundation for Winning in Work and in Life.”

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