Perusing the blogosphere, I’ve found that many articles on entrepreneurs use the same adjectives over and over again. They’re outgoing, competitive, and never take “no” for an answer.
Plenty of entrepreneurs fit this description. Some don’t. Bill Gates and JK Rowling are highly successful people who work from behind the scenes, often by themselves. Gates famously hates meetings and has frequently been described as “bookish.” JK Rowling reported feeling too shy to ask strangers for a pen while she was trying to write her Harry Potter series. While seemingly an obstacle in today’s rambunctious, extrovert-driven business world, Gates and Rowling and others like them may benefit from having quiet personalities. We are just beginning to understand the importance of being alone in the business world, but it seems that introversion may boost productivity and improve decision-making. Those are great skills to have when beginning and maintaining a business!
So, yes, passionate and outgoing people may make great entrepreneurs. So might the quiet loners. What really determines whether you will make a good entrepreneur? How can you decide if running your own business is the right fit for you? Here’s the best tips I’ve encountered so far:
- You want to create.
The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who are passionate about their ideas and want to create something new. They believe they have a solution to a problem and will work relentlessly to bring that solution to life. Good entrepreneurs don’t seek to promote themselves but rather their product. Take the example of the mom who co-founded Boogie Wipes, Julie Pickens. As she struggled to apply saline drops in her child’s nose, Pickens had an idea. She put the drops on a tissue, then wiped her kid’s nose. This simple solution to a common problem launched a multi-million-dollar business. Do you have a great idea that you desperately want to see in the world? You might be an entrepreneur.
- You’re a cautious thinker.
By necessity, starting your own business entails a lot of risk, and not all entrepreneurs are comfortable with it. Robin Chase, the co-founder of Zipcar, has actually described herself as “risk-averse.” The difference between successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful ones is that good entrepreneurs can accurately assess risk and carefully plan their next steps. This kind of critical thinking often occurs when we’re quiet and alone, behaviors that come naturally to introverts. If you would describe yourself as judicious and have a high level of trust in your own decisions, you might just be an entrepreneur.
- You listen.
Ultimately, your business shouldn’t be about you. To make good money, you have to meet the demands of many other people. Your investors want certain things, as do your buyers. You will likely need co-founders and employees. Listening to – and more importantly, empathizing with – others is a critical skill for all entrepreneurs. While speaking is a form of promotion, listening is a form of feedback. By listening well, you will learn something new about your business. Good listening might help you to better define your target audience or handle a client’s complaints. It can help you find experts to assist in your product development or help you keep the best talent on your staff. If you have the humility to admit when you’re wrong and the energy to keep learning new things, entrepreneurship might be a great fit for you.
Want more reading on this topic? Check these out: