I wrote about successful traits of entrepreneurs the last couple weeks and in that process, I ran across another article about entrepreneurs – 50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur. As I read through the list, I alternated between disbelief and satisfaction – satisfaction that I possessed quite a few of the (serious, business oriented) items mentioned and disbelief that it was casting entrepreneurs as 20-somethings leaving college to start a company with VC money.
Not all entrepreneurs seek VC funding, in fact, most of them don’t (#22). Most entrepreneurs who start their own business do so on the backs of their savings account, friends and family who are willing to lend (or give) them money (#43), or they max out their credit cards, lines of credit, and home equity (if they have a home) to pursue their dreams.
Not all entrepreneurs abandon college (#8, 28) to pursue their dream of hitting it big in Silicon Valley. It is very rare, despite big names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and now Mark Zuckerberg) In fact, I don’t recommend leaving college without your degree. You can start a company while in college, but you can more easily start a company once you get out of college and gain work experience (although at that point, you might have the crushing debt of student loans to contend with).
Not all entrepreneurs have the credibility to raise money – they are untried, unproven. VCs bet on known entities, credible teams, good ideas. In fact, VCs bet on the same idea done by several different teams (#46). Most entrepreneurs are trying to get customers and do their work and make money, not look for VC funding (#32).
Not all entrepreneurs dress in T-shirts, flip-flops and hoodies (#13, 33). Most dress the part for the industry they are in. Most look professional and credible. Don’t think because Mark Zuckerberg can wear a hoodie and run a company that you can too.
Not all entrepreneurs spend their day online or in front of a computer (#15). Most entrepreneurs are running their business, which usually means selling, talking to customers or potential customers (#27, 36), not spending all of their time on social media platforms (#30)!
Not all entrepreneurs are in high tech (#26, 50). Most entrepreneurs own small businesses and provide much needed services (#45) – massage, carpet cleaning, machine parts, auto repair. Take a look around you and you’ll be surprised at how many “entrepreneurs” are really small business owners filling a need (#25).
Of the signs listed, some are very important and spot on and I want to highlight those:
1. “You come from a family of individuals who just couldn’t work for someone else. Your parents worked for themselves. Though this isn’t true for every entrepreneur (myself included), many have a family history with one or both parents having been self-employed.”
My dad had his own farming business when I was a kid. My mom started a consulting business when I was in the 6th grade. She did it again once we moved to California, when I was in High School. She still has her own business now. I got a double dose of entrepreneurism, from both sides.
“29. You sold stuff as a kid like at a lemonade stand. Heck, when there were class sales, you were probably one of the top sellers.”
Successful entrepreneurs spend time selling – this #29 is one of the most important signs that you may be an entrepreneur.
“16. You ask to be paid in game tickets, shoes or whatever else you love. There are just some things that are better than money, right?”
Entrepreneurs must closely manage their cash flow and revenues and sometimes bartering services is the way to manage that flow effectively. I’ve seen many small businesses and entrepreneurs do this successfully to keep their businesses going. In fact, a friend who owns a local carpet cleaning business said he trades his carpet cleaning services for massages.
Most important of all – you believe in your self, your idea, and you have passion for it! (#3, 4, 5, 14, 21, 31, 47, and 49). Those are all requirements for being a successful entrepreneur – the article absolutely nailed these!
Let me know what signs you think are indicative that you might be an entrepreneur!