Technically, if you operate a business, then you're an entrepreneur, however I don't think that was the actual question you were asking. This could be interpreted as an epic question of identity, however, for the purposes of this blog post, I'm going to interpret it as a question about if you have the right skills and qualities to become an entrepreneur.
To start, let's look at the attitude of entrepreneurs. Some people aspire from childhood to become entrepreneurs. Personally, I was not one of them and I don't think that level of aspiration is necessary to become an entrepreneur. More important is the idea that it's possible and the faith in yourself that it's something you can do. In the best of circumstances, this faith in one's self if based in reality. Let's move on to those more concrete qualities:
The most important quality for an entrepreneur is to have a passion for a particular service or product and the requisite knowledge, skills and licences to provide that service or product. This means, if you are passionate about helping people with their mental health needs, it's a good idea to have practiced this and have the requisite licenses to perform that work. If your passion is providing people food, you should probably know how to cook and have prior experience with the food industries practices; they've been honed over many generations, and there's power in knowing the usual way to do things and why before deviating from the common practice.
Furthermore, it's helpful that an entrepreneur know their industry well enough to be able to realistically estimate the finances of the business and how much start up money is needed. In the example of a mental health therapist, the costs are fairly low. In a restaurant, the start up costs are quite high since there's a lot of raw materials, marketing, furniture, appliances, and other equipment that needs to be purchased before any sales can be made. The more realistic awareness you have of how much mental heath provider insurance is, or how much a point-of-sale system costs, the more successful your business will be. Many entrepreneurs will also benefit from having an understanding of how many income streams can be cobbled together into a comfortable income. For example, a mental health therapist could see each of their clients as an income stream, and early in the development of their business they may choose to augment their client-based income streams with a few shifts of a part time job.
Entrepreneurs are also served well by a few person skills. Entrepreneurs need to have an ability to be self-directed and self-motivated. Sometimes these skills lay dormant until an entrepreneur's passions are excited. However, if you're really exited about being a <fill in the blank> but you're not doing any of the steps to get there (even if it's seemingly non-quantifiable things such as talking to friends or peers, researching online, or reaching out to a coach) then that's a concern. An entrepreneur also has to have some capacity to delay gratification; an entrepreneur will likely have to choose to save money instead of spend it, choose to work on their business over other activities, or choose to forego small luxuries or vacations while they get their business up and running. That being said, it also behooves an entrepreneur to have a work ethic that will result in them having to do less delayed gratification.
Entrepreneurs are greatly aided by having a conscious awareness of places for support. This may be friends, family, or a coach, and it could be financial support, but definitely needs to have an emotional support component. It can also encompass and awareness of places within your self that you can provide yourself with support, patience, and loving kindness.
Finally, entrepreneurs are benefited by shedding preconceived ideas about what is "normal" when it comes to work and life. Here's a list of some things that I offer you to reconsider:
- "my job" should be an un-enjoyable experience
- "work" should be difficult
- a certain amount of struggle is necessary in life
- I must be working at least 40hrs per week in order to be "working"
- a life is supposed to be 8hr sleep, 8hr working, 8 hrs play per day
- "security" is a good thing
- security means having a salary and benefits
- I am too risk-adverse to be an entrepreneur
So that's it; that is all that an entrepreneur needs.* (I reserve the right to amend this in case of future epiphany.) Everything else is either a "nice to have" or an idea that you'd be well served to release yourself of. If you want to argue (or discuss) any of these points with me, feel free to reach out and set up a free initial consultation!