© 2003-2017 Elena Fawkner
Fully one in ten adults in the United States today is an entrepreneur.
This phenomenon is by no means restricted to North America. The
leading country for entrepreneurship is Brazil with one in eight adults
an entrepreneur. Australia is not far behind the U.S. with one in twelve.
These countries - Brazil, the United States and Australia - lead the
way. Contrast, for example, Germany (one in 25), the United Kingdom
(one in 33), Finland and Sweden (one in 50) and Ireland and Japan
(less than one in 100). (Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 defined entrepreneurship
as "any attempt at new business or new venture creation, such
as self-employment, a new business organization, or the
expansion of an existing business, by an individual, a team
of individuals, or an established business."
ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY - AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Entrepreneurship is a major contributing factor to the economic
well-being of a country both in terms of economic growth and
job creation. Traditionally, entrepreneurial ability tended to focus
on the following four attributes:
=> Initiative - the entrepreneur takes the initiative to bring together
the economic resources of land, labor and capital to produce a
commodity (whether a good or a service) with the hope that
such production will create a profitable business venture.
=> Decision-making - the entrepreneur makes the basic business
policy decisions for the business, thereby setting the course of
=> Innovation - the entrepreneur is an innovator, attempting to
introduce new products and new ways of doing things.
=> Risk-taker - the entrepreneur risks his or her time, effort,
business reputation and invested funds in the entrepreneurial
THE MODERN ENTREPRENEUR
Until recently, the above attributes, especially innovation and
risk-taking, were the dominant factors that defined the
characteristics of those who chose to become entrepreneurs.
Now, however, with corporate downsizing being a fact of life,
many entrepreneurs find themselves thrust into the role by
The question for anyone either finding themselves in this position
involuntarily or thinking about leaving corporate life for the heady
world of entrepreneurship is whether you have what it takes to be
successful ... the "right stuff" in other words. Some people do, in
spades. Others simply don't. If you're one of the ones who just
doesn't, either resign yourself to working for someone else or
cultivate in yourself the qualities that successful entrepreneurs
share. Believe it or not, entrepreneurs are not just "born". Well,
some, of course, seem to be natural-born entrepreneurs, but
for the rest of us, the qualities of entrepreneurship can definitely
be acquired by hard work and application.
The "common denominator" issues facing all entrepreneurs
are planning, finance and implementation.
All entrepreneurs face the challenge of starting a new business,
be it through innovation (inventing something new or doing
something a different way), finding the right opportunity to
get into, or buying a franchise. Whichever road you choose,
it will involve serious planning.
Unless you have ready funds at your disposal, getting finance
is the next major challenge and cannot be attempted until
your business plan is in place. You will need to prepare
funding proposals and applications for loans, venture capital,
and funds from angel investors.
This is make or break time. Many people think just getting
started is the hard part - and it is hard. But where many
businesses stumble is not in the planning and financing
stages but in implementing their business plan. Why this is
so is not certain. There are various hypotheses including the
idea that ideas people and implementation people are two
very different breeds and it is highly unusual to find one person
who can do both. More likely though, is the simple fact that
implementation requires such a broad range of skills that
no one person can possibly be adept at all of them.
The real challenge and skill of the entrepreneur, then, is to
recognize what you do well and then appoint employees
or subcontractors to do the rest. Of course, if you're running
a business on a shoestring, this simply may not be possible!
So be brutally honest and objective in assessing your particular
strengths and weaknesses BEFORE you cash in your day
job and your 401K.
The areas to think about in terms of implementation are
the same as those encompassed by a broad definition of
management: promotion (marketing and advertising), public
relations, sales, employees, communications, legal issues,
plant and equipment, risk management, disaster planning,
crisis management, insurance, technology, computer systems,
taxes, bookkeeping, finance, and the internet.
Equally important as the common issues shared by all
entrepreneurs are the personal qualities of the entrepreneur
him or herself. To start you thinking about whether you have
the right stuff to make a success of an entrepreneurial
venture, here's a list of character traits and work ethics
common to successful entrepreneurs. Although it is not
necessary that you possess all of them, you should possess
=> Passion - entrepreneurs have a strong passion for their
idea or concept, so much so that their work is their play. If
you don't like what you do, you won't stick it out when
challenges come along, as they inevitably will.
=> Curiosity - entrepreneurs need to understand how things
work. They ask a lot of questions. Curiosity therefore triggers
=> Sponges - entrepreneurs are sponges. They devour
information about their industry and are always current on
new and emerging trends and technologies, not only in
their specific industry but in closely related industries. This
habit of scanning their environment is a rich source of
discovery of new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are ALWAYS
looking for new markets, applications, products or twists on
an old concept.
=> Optimism - entrepreneurs think of problems as opportunities
for improvements and new ideas.
=> Forward looking - entrepreneurs are never satisfied with
the status quo and are always proactively carving out their future.
=> Careful about money - entrepreneurs are careful with money
and have a firm grasp on what things cost and their value to the
business. This allows them to recognize a true bargain when they
=> Started earning at a young age - entrepreneurs commonly
displayed entrepreneurial leanings as a teenager seeking out
entrepreneurial activities such as babysitting, lawnmowing and
=> Competitive - entrepreneurs are naturally competitive and
don't let the grass grow under their feet.
=> Time conscious - entrepreneurs know the value of time and
how to make the best use of it. You won't find entrepreneurs
spending much time on nonproductive activities. That said,
entrepreneurs typically also recognize the value of downtime and
time with family and will factor these activities into their schedule.
=> Risk takers - entrepreneurs are not afraid of taking calculated
risks. They typically trust their hunches and act on them.
=> Usually loners - entrepreneurs generally prefer a solitary work
environment as opposed to teamwork.
=> Professional - entrepreneurs are professional in their approach
to work. They operate as they would in a corporate environment
and don't allow themselves to be distracted by outside influences.
=> High energy - entrepreneurs have a plan and a vision and
they work it. Entrepreneurs are often health-conscious too,
recognizing that the fitter they are, the better their minds work. So
entrepreneurs will take time from their schedule to work out and eat
=> Flexible - entrepreneurs are nothing if not responsive to change.
Although they appreciate the importance of having a plan and working
that plan, they allow themselves room to react and respond to
opportunities that may suddenly reveal themselves.
=> Nurture entrepreneurial spirit - entrepreneurs seek out and nurture
the entrepreneurial spirit in their employees and reward them
=> Confident goal-setters - entrepreneurs are confident and set long-term
goals, both for themselves personally and their businesses. They
view money and financial security as a measure of accomplishment
and a source of peace of mind.
=> Persistent - entrepreneurs never give up. They persist until they
=> Learn from failure - entrepreneurs learn from their failures and those
of others. Failure to an entrepreneur is nothing more than an opportunity
waiting to be discovered.
=> Self responsibility - entrepreneurs take the initiative and personal
responsibility for their success or failure (which is always a merely
=> Resource utilization - entrepreneurs utilize ALL of their available
=> Internal locus of control - entrepreneurs don't believe in luck. They
firmly believe that success and failure lies within their personal
control or influence.
THE FUTURE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As we all know, increasing numbers of people are electing to work
from home either through telecommuting or running home businesses.
While this trend has commonly been attributed to the growth in the
number of working women wanting to be home for their children, over
half of all people now working from home are men.
A recent Purdue University study concluded a number of factors seem
to favor continued high rates of new firm formation:
1. Continuing high rates of change (change creates opportunities for
2. Continued growth of the service sector (the highest growth area for
new firm formation).
3. Increasing number of virtual corporations in which firms outsource
their functions, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs.
4. Positive climate for small business - a general perception that small
business is a positive influence on the economic wellbeing of the
country giving entrepreneurs legitimacy and respect.
5. Growth in international business opportunities.
With the traditional corporate-employment track seemingly on the
decline, the trend of forming strategic alliances with other businesses
that are closely aligned with yours or with someone who can add value
to your product is emerging. In fact, futurists envision a return to
extended community living with shared resources but individual living
and working relationships with entrepreneurial activities being the basis
of these communities. Strategic alliances are a first step along this
So, if you have determined entrepreneurship is for you, you can be
confident that you are part of the wave of the future. But understand
what it will demand of you and whether you are prepared to give what
it will take. The allure of entrepreneurship is undeniably strong for many
but make sure you're going into it for the right reasons. Being miserable
in your job does not automatically make starting your own business the
best idea in the world. In fact, it could be the worst reason of all to get
into business for yourself. The right choice may instead be to find another
job that you won't be miserable in. But if, taking into account everything
that's been said above, you're adamant that you have what it takes,
by all means take the bull by the horns and create something
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