Are you thinking big enough? Do you have what it takes? Are you ready to go ALL-IN?
Called to Entrepreneurship
How do you know if you’re called to be an entrepreneur?
In choosing entrepreneurship, you are required to take on risk, barriers, financial strain, and uncertainty in virtually every area of life – from the possibility of failure, to the unknown of the size of success if you make it, to what your career will look like as you navigate the journey. In a nutshell, it’s often bring-ya-to-your-knees work and is not sexy, contrary to what the media may lead you to believe. Yes, there is potential upside in entrepreneurship, but who would logically sign on for the guaranteed difficulties if not called?
So how do you know if you are called? One of the beauties of entrepreneurship is that there is no standard or template, so I think most of our callings are as unique as a fingerprint. However, I do believe we have a set of common ideals and a way of seeing the world that builds a foundation common to most entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is very hot and trendy today, but it is not a path that will be successful or enjoyable if it is not where your best talents live. I had a thriving corporate career prior to taking the leap into entrepreneurship, with the status and ego that accompany the corporate position. The leap into entrepreneurship was very humbling, yet I couldn’t have been more in my element and comfortable in my own skin – I knew it was where I belonged. Here’s my list to help you know if you are being called, or not.
How to Know if You Have the Call
You might be called to entrepreneurship if…
You are going to a new endeavor, not running from your current situation.
You have an idea that will create value.
You have an idea that will grow and potentially create wealth.
You believe your authentic way of working, building or delivering is ahead of its time and of greater value than what is currently available on the market.
You feel being a Jack or Jill of All Trades is a valuable skill, and you enjoy tackling new responsibilities with which you have no experience.
You think broadly and can sew all aspects of a business together to create overarching success.
You have smart but blind optimism in the long-term potential of your idea – enough to thrive in the lean years.
You are excited about working harder than you have ever worked, even if it means being without a paycheck (for a while).
You are not being called to entrepreneurship if…
You are looking for something new because you are unhappy in your current job.
You want to work less.
You want more flexibility.
You want to get rich quick.
You thought being an entrepreneur would be easier than a corporate job.
You have strong, specific talents that may be calling you to go out on your own, but you don’t enjoy developing new talents.
You don’t enjoy being a Jack or Jill of All Trades and think deep expertise in a targeted area will translate easily into entrepreneurial success.
You feel your idea will easily attract investors and garner large market share upon introduction. (It never happens this way.)
The Traits of an Entrepreneur
What traits are most important for an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs are the creators of new wealth and new jobs, the inventors of new products and services, and the revolutionizers of society and the economy. Yet we have only been gathering data and studying entrepreneurship for about 2 years. As a matter of fact, the first longitudinal study of entrepreneurship and firm growth was completed by the Kauffman Foundation. We are early in the evolution of learning what makes entrepreneurs tick and what makes us successful. There are myriad thoughts on what traits create the most successful entrepreneurs, and the mystery continues as successful entrepreneurs often look so very different from one another.
My list of the most important traits is a combination of my own experiences plus expert thought on the subject:
Business Focus: You make decisions based on an observed or anticipated effect on profit. You place appropriate priority on focusing on the financials, possess the right level of financial knowledge to guide quality decision-making, and strategically manage with a financial priority in all you do. This is not easy, is not sexy, and is paramount to success.
Confidence: You accurately know yourself and understand others. Self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses allows you to more easily identify and proactively work on your blind spots, and it allows you to have empathy that is vital to quality product or service delivery, quality client relationships, and quality team management.
Creative Thinker: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better. This isn’t necessarily creativity in the traditional sense. It is often the ability to apply a unique talent to create a slight modification or enhancement that can be disruptive. For example, we provided unlimited consultation with highly educated, deeply experienced professionals – no appointment necessary – just call. The strategy was to strengthen relationship and value, lengthen client lifetime, and increase referral. Simple, but unheard of in our industry. It accomplished all we desired and became our secret sauce.
Delegator: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control. Entrepreneurs can struggle to delegate and become what holds their business back. Or on the other end of the spectrum, they tend to be abdicators, relinquishing all responsibility and connection to work assigned to others. The magic is in the ability to effectively delegate, remaining connected and supportive at the right levels.
Problem-Solver: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles. You see business as a series of problems to be solved, and the success is in the creativity and execution of the solution.
Independent: You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture. You see value and meaning in the act of doing really hard things, knowing there is wisdom, power, and expertise that will follow and will be necessary for a successful next step.
Knowledge-Seeker: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business. Good entrepreneurs are comfortable with the fact that no one possesses all of the skills or knowledge required to create a successful enterprise. This drives the desire to constantly learn and to surround yourself with a team that is strong where you are weak as a key strategy for success and continued learning.
Promoter: You are the best spokesperson for the business. When this trait is present, it is easy to instill the right level of passion in your team to equal your level of promotion. It is also a secret to maximizing business development and sales.
Relationship-Builder: You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth. Good entrepreneurs believe in the power of long-term, value-add partnerships as instrumental to long-term success and sustained value. The give and take of quality relationships is where good ideas become great.
Risk-Navigator: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations. Entrepreneurs have an appetite for risk; however, good entrepreneurs are not slashing through risk with reckless abandon. They are cautiously calculating and mitigating at a measured pace.
“Be your best in business and life by taking the time to build it right.” -Stephanie Breedlove
Go All In!
What does it mean to go “all in”?
Being all in is a 1% mindset shift, just a small shift, that is the difference between thinking and executing at a good level or at a level that takes you everywhere you are capable of going. It is critical to the entrepreneurial journey because bringing a new business idea to life largely consists of doing something new, different or better, which also means there is no proven path or template that if we follow it to a tee we are guaranteed success. Successful entrepreneurs view themselves as venturing into a new frontier in which they are responsible for overcoming new obstacles, for creating new, more efficient, more useful, more valuable products and services, and for participating in bringing about economic and societal change. This is a tall order, but if entrepreneurship is your calling, being all in is critically important for fulfilling the order.
Entrepreneurship is filled with unknowns and obstacles, as it is the nature of the beast. When an obstacle blocks the path and it is impossible to see the way, confidence falters. These have been the times when I’ve had to make a conscious decision to be all in or not if I want to emerge victorious. Straddling the fence or ‘sort of’ dealing with the challenge is never a recipe for success, and it is often destined for dissatisfaction at best and most likely failure. I stop and ask myself if overcoming the obstacle is worth it. There is a finite amount of time in the day, and where we choose to spend our time matters. It matters at epic proportions. Do I go all in or not? Will the benefit to all involved be great once we are on the other side? If the answer is yes, then it is time to dig deep and do what it really takes.
Being all in is a key ingredient for going everywhere you want to go. It means giving all you’ve got. It requires an unwavering belief in its value. It delivers an unbelievable level of fulfillment from the hard work required, independent of results.
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