A recent article noted the explosion of entrepreneurial ventures making their mark across the Toronto business landscape. In sectors ranging from tech to food to health to industrial endeavors of all manner, people are abandoning whatever they were doing to start something on their own. And while statistically only a minority of these ventures will survive let alone thrive, the sheer gumption it takes to embark on such journeys is laudable.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur, the following list might be helpful. It is of uncertain origin (apologies) and neither exhaustive nor topological. Instead it offers a basic language by which to better understand the peculiar hodgepodge of attributes that entrepreneurial success demands:
Strong Goal Orientation
- Ability to set clear, challenging, sometimes audacious goals.
- Ability to continually re-evaluate and adjust goals to ensure they are consistent with one’s interests, talents, and values, as well as personal or business needs.
- The ability to steadfastly pursue an aim.
- Unrelenting perseverance.
- Willingness to pay the personal costs of time and effort and some of their consequences
- The ability to withstand business reversals without quitting
- Ability to see failures as learning experiences so that similar problems can be avoided in the future.
- Attitude that setbacks are only temporary barriers to goals.
- Strong capacity to build on success.
Strong Desire for Independence
- Genuine desire to be one’s own boss, free from external direction and control.
- Sincere willingness and proven ability to be self-disciplined in sometimes isolated working conditions.
- Ability to organize activities to reach personal goals.
Self-confidence and Self-reliance
- Strong but realistic belief in self and ability to achieve personal or business goals.
- An enduring faith in themselves that fuels the capacity to recover from setbacks or disappointments.
Ability to Handle Uncertainty
- The ability to deal with ambiguity, risk and lack of security
- Preference for variety over routine
Versatility and Resourcefulness
- Capable of dealing effectively with many subjects or tasks or competing demands at the same time.
- Can assume different roles and switch back and forth as required.
The Willingness to Solicit and Act Upon Feedback/Openness to change
- Despite certainty of cause, the ability and willingness to seek and act upon feedback from stakeholders.
- The willingness to adjust course when appropriate
- Ability to adjust perceptions, goals, or action on basis of an assessment of new information.
Stamina and Energy
- The ability to withstand the physical and mental strains and pressures
- The energy required to pursue and execute upon goals
Ability to Apply Ideas in Creative Ways
- Strong desire to originate an idea or product, to develop something new, to be innovative, to make something happen, to imprint personality, dreams, and ideas on a concept in a unique and different way.
- Powers of both observation and imagination to foresee possible market ideas.
Sense of Purpose
- A feeling of mission must motivate the person to go into business; the activity must have meaning. The mission may be to make an attractive profit, to sell some necessary and unique product or service, or to develop ideas or skills without the constraints of others’ expectations.
Human Relations Ability
- Ability to understand and interact well with people of varying personalities and values ie. employees, bankers, investors, partners, suppliers, or customers
- Communication skills and combinations of characteristics such as sociability, consideration, cheerfulness, co-operation, and tact.
- Desire to take on challenges and test abilities to the limit.
Business and Product/Service Knowledge
- Understands basic principles by which a business survives and prospers. Understands the roles of management and responsibilities of employees to maintain a viable business.
- Although in control of overall goals, recognizes the role of others and functions such as marketing, accounting, tax, financing, planning, and management.
- Has a deep understanding of product or service being offered to the market