I have been an Entrepreneur since the very early days in my career; in fact, I could trace back to my University days when I started my own Investors Club. When I graduate from University, I opted to try different ventures instead of going after Blue-Chip, large corporations as my peers.
Many years have passed; and I had worked in big corporations as well as started my ventures; even when I was working in corporations, my mind is always about setting up my own business and never let that side of passion go and buried by the big corporate.
Since 2006, I had started 3 businesses, 2 have done well and still continuing and 1 is doing OK but I simply do not have sufficient time for it; and it will do well once I can free up more time.
You see, I founded all businesses myself without any investment capital; therefore, unlike the typical perception; where many believe only rich people can afford to start up a new business; I think the most important factor behind a successful Entrepreneur is “Emotional Capital”.
Over the years, I have met many different entrepreneurs, and have collected a large number of feedbacks; I really think there is really such thing called “Entrepreneur Gene”! Here are some good questions I think are useful to assess if you are “Born to be an Entrepreneur”
Question 1: Your Upbringing Experience
For many entrepreneurs, their parents are also business owners; either big or small business owners. They have observed from their parents how to run a business and more importantly how to be your “own boss”. Many of these include both pros and cons; I remember watching my Dad able to come home early in many days as he was an owner of a factory himself, and able to spend almost every weekends with us; unlike most of my friends’ parents who needed to work overtime and not getting paid very often.
However, as I grew up, I could also see how difficult it can be as a business owner; I recall one day there was a major typhoon, and Dad’s factory was flooded. He called all his employees from home and asked them for help to remove all the machines from the factory; not even 1 person turned up because they thought the business was gone.
He spent the next 3 days moving machines by himself and subsequently was injured afterwards. As he has said, unlike employees where you can be lazy and not really responsible for anything and just wait for your pay check, as a business owner, you do need to have a full responsibility.
Question 2: Are you a Responsible Person?
Which brings to my 2nd point; Responsibility!
Are you a Responsible person? I know, most people will answer “Of Course”, but really? How many times at work that you have been doing your persona stuff? Playing games? Watching the stockmarket? Are you really dedicated to your work?
I think not, I think most employees will spend a lot of time on their own personal interests at work; otherwise; you won’t have so many online games developed for those want to pay at work; and I know a very large number of employees just go to work and surf Internet for whole day.
Is this the type of person you want to be as a career? Arrive at 9 and leave at 5 on dot? Most of us are like that, and I have been one of them myself; content with a fixed salary every month; and just go home. Then unemployment wave started, I lost my job, as well as most of my friends; suddenly, I feel that I was not responsible to myself, I should not wasted those time chatting and surfing on Internet, and instead, building up steps towards my dream.
Question 3: Are you a Status Person?
Are you a status person or a status seeker? Is it important that everyone knows that you are a manager of a big corporation? Do you really care? Well personally, I don’t care if a person is a manager or not, but you get to meet so many people and ask them what do you do, they reply “I am the manager at big corporate”, as if we entrepreneurs care.
If you are a status seeker, than entrepreneurship will not be for you; as an entreprenuer, although you are your own boss; you could carry many titles, and at a starting phase, it is likely you will not have a lot of employees or even one employee.
It is also likely that you will work long hours from home as well. There will be no one for you to shout around and be a bossy manager. If you are looking for power and status, please go and find works at big corporations or Government agencies.
Question 4: Do you invent new ideas and have new ideas all the time?
We are not talking about inventing a new product or writing a new programming here, but really if you are someone that has come up new ideas continuously at work? This can be coming up with new process, maybe a new software you can implement to improve workflows; increase efficiency or new industry that your colleagues at work can use for sales leads.
In certain countries and companies; especially those from United States, they do encourage these types of employees (although United States also has some most bureaucratic companies); companies such as Google, IBM and Cisco all encourage innovative thinking; so much so, some of these companies even form venture capital firms as part of their company.
But not all of them can see their ideas become realized; and if you have really good ideas; but not being regarded by your managers; it can be a very frustrating experience; then maybe becoming your own boss is your best choice.
Question 5: Can you handle Flexibility?
As an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as 9am to 5pm; you have to work flexible hours. This means additional hours at night to plan your business and countless hours for you take on projects; products developments; cash flow management; understand your competitors.
When my friend heard about this, he was scared away, he said, he is content just be a manager in a factory; and at least have weekends off. The fact is, flexibility applies to both work and personal time; I can pick up my children everyday, and able to spend many hours with them everyday; I can take them out to lunch amp; dinner; and I can take them on holiday without asking my company.
Being your own boss, yes, you do work much harder, but you have much more flexibility. I think this is especially once you have your own family; you can certainly have much more time with them by being your own boss; but prepare for hardworking, long hours ahead.
Question 6: Strong Emotional Capital
Maybe EQ is the better word, and you need to have high threshold; not someone gives up easily because you get one compliant from a customer. Most people give up on their path in becoming successful entrepreneur because they give up too quickly; and want to go back to their comfort zone. Being your own boss, you have no one but yourself to turn to, you can’t say “I will ask my boss” as an excuse anymore; you need to have strong emotional capital and able to withstand criticisms and face realities and problems; and able to solve them yourself.
Question 7: Willingness to Change
Are you the type of person that is able to adapt, and willing to make changes? Or are you the type of person that someone has to plan and set path for you? Sometimes this can be evidenced during your study at high school or universities; there are students that need to rely on their teachers to give them practice exams for instance; others are able to be more self-motivated and able to study at their own pace. It takes 3 attempts to become a successful entrepreneur, and willingness to change plus some creativity is a must-have formula.
Question 8: Able to Manage Your Schedule
This is one skill you can not afford to lack, being an entrepreneur, you need to be able to multi-task all the time. I can see that from my Task List, there is no one day I will have less than 20 tasks in my diary; which is significantly more than when I was working for someone else as you can always sit back, as you don’t get anything extra by finishing tasks early anyway.
Running your own business is an entirely different game, the sooner you can finish your tasks, the quicker you can move onto next revenue generating business. This is why I am constantly busy, I want to launch as many products as possible and utilize as much marketing channels as possible, but the reward is also much greater.
Question 9: International Sense
Never set up a business and think small, aim for bigger stage, aim for bigger markets. A lot of my readers are based in Australia, do not think just about your own local area. For instance, I have known many franchises that were set up in rural areas in Australia and since then have expanded into successful international businesses. In this e-commerce age, you can also utilize Internet to expand your business opportunities globally, if I can set up an international business from just one computer; you can do it too.
Question 10: Are you Highly Analytical
This is one factor that many entrepreneurs lack of initially but this can be learnt quickly. As a business owner, you need to be responsive to the latest changes in the industry or from competitors. First, you must realize there is no business that has no competitors; you will always be fighting with other competitors one way or another. Second, you must be analytical and able to find niche opportunities or customers segments that are not serviced or under-serviced by your competitors. Analytical skill is not a skill that you were born with, it’s a skill that can be trained through regularly researching into news, information and forming decisions and strategies.
So after analyzing the above points, do you think you deserve to be an entrepreneur.
Ultimately, the biggest holding factor is the Fear factor; most people are used to the comfort working for someone else and happy to bring some money home every month; ironically; most people only think about setting up a business when they get retrenched. If you truly have an entrepreneurial spirit in your heart; the best time to plan for your own business is actually while you are employed by someone else; as this can minimize the financial risk.