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Get Down To Business: Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?

There are plenty of reasons to romanticize entrepreneurship. Many of the stories you see lighting up headlines tell the tale of overnight success. But even Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg had to overcome the difficult decisions and trying demands that are fundamental to achieving entrepreneurial success. If you want to become an entrepreneur, you must not lose sight of the often overlooked and underestimated keys to making your dream a reality.

Before you take the leap into business ownership, it’s critical to uncover significant self-revelations, to dig deep into your own present reality and decide whether entrepreneurship is right for you. To gain a richer understanding of your strengths and limitations, ensure that you include a thorough examination of two fundamental contributors to successful entrepreneurship: time and patience. Let’s dissect these key requirements so that you can move forward with information and insight, setting yourself on a path to success.

Do You Have The Time?

Perhaps you’ve heard the names Larry Page and Sergey Brin, highly successful entrepreneurs who built their fortune from a little-known search engine called Google. Today, these co-founders are worth tens of billions of dollars each, and their business is an empire.

You may have learned that the pair formulated their venture at Stanford University, and that the concept first emerged while they were still dorm-room dwellers. You might have read that their success was the product of an innovative search engine algorithm that quickly gained popularity and eventually launched the company into the most profitable tier of the industry.

But what you may have missed is the underlying story of how that success evolved -- the hours, days, weeks, months and years spent building the concept, developing the user base, refining the strategy, acquiring the right people and staying on the cutting edge of web search patterns. In fact, early in their entrepreneurial journey, Page and Brin could be found expending time on the Stanford loading dock, trying to “snag” computers and assemble enough computing power to handle increasing numbers of queries.

For a couple of young men in their early 20s, finding the time to lay a foundation for success may not have seemed overtly challenging. But if you’re a forty-something professional with a family and a laundry list of responsibilities, you could struggle to carve out this kind of commitment. And even if you’re not at this stage of your life yet, are you willing to commit your waking hours to the all-consuming endeavor of entrepreneurship?

Plenty of young people look to billionaire entrepreneurs like Bill Gates as models of success. Keep in mind, though, that Gates never took a day off from working until his thirties. Ultimately, you have to match your entrepreneurial expectations to the time and effort you plan to invest.

Can you have a satisfying work-life balance and run a fast-growing, successful business? If you’re being realistic, you acknowledge and accept that there will be trade-offs. You simply can’t have everything. To achieve your goal of thriving entrepreneurship, you have to work hard and want it badly.

That’s not to say that you should let these challenges stand in your way. The point is that you have to think honestly about what you want. The bigger your vision, the more time you’ll have to allocate to it. If you’re not focusing on this inner thought process before jumping into a new business venture, you’re unlikely to see the return you’re seeking.

Do You Have The Patience?

A Wall Street Journal article revealed data indicating that golfers quite consistently overestimate their ability to hit the ball. “Forty percent of approach shots land short of the green, eight times the percentage that land behind the green, according to a study of more than six million such shots,” the article explains. “The data isn’t merely an indication of golfers’ collective ability. It reveals a persistent -- and tough to overcome -- cognitive bias that causes most players to regularly choose the wrong club.”

What does this golf revelation have to do with entrepreneurship? Simple: Starting a new business and attaining the goals you’ve set is going to take longer than you think. In much the same way that golfers overestimate their swing power, new entrepreneurs often overestimate their rate of growth and success. And this miscalculation can lead to poorly judged decisions and progress inhibitors.

“What confuses some golfers is that, in many respects, confidence is essential. Players are told to visualize their best shot and swing free of self-doubt. But choosing a club requires a more pragmatic assessment of potential outcomes.” That’s why gauging your patience quota is particularly important in the consideration stages of a new business startup. Unless you can reign in your sense of urgency and approach the business plan with a steady, unrushed mindset, you may saddle yourself with an unexpected handicap.

Sure, you might stumble upon some shortcuts along the way, but this is the exception, not the rule. Business success is a marathon, not a race. Are you willing to put in the miles? Are you in it for the long haul? The greatest entrepreneurs are the ones who toil away, accepting that success doesn’t come quickly or easily. They keep laying the bricks of a solid business foundation, and they prioritize long-term gains over short-term gratification. On the other hand, the businesses that have trouble growing and scaling are the ones that don’t execute along the way. They don’t put in the hours and efforts to properly structure, finance, staff, organize and manage the enterprise. In essence, they don’t make smart, insightful decisions.

Consider the CEO who gets paid more than what he or she should for where the business actually stands in its evolution. This is a near-sighted reward that could fracture the financial stability of the company and make it difficult to sustain high-level growth. Patience really is a virtue, and in successful entrepreneurship, it’s a prerequisite.

Developing a new business can be a hugely rewarding experience, but it’s going to be harder than you anticipate. Are you willing to accept that fact and do what entrepreneurship truly asks of you? Can you honestly say you have the necessary time and patience to make it happen? These are some of the toughest questions to answer. But they’re not intended to discourage you from pursuing your entrepreneurial goals. Instead, they’re designed to prepare you for what’s ahead so that you’re not blindsided or derailed in the process. 

The truth is there are a number of realities you should be uncovering and considering as you make plans to become an entrepreneur. For expert insight into more essential questions to ask yourself about the prospect of business ownership, download our comprehensive e-book: So, You Want To Be An Entrepreneur? 

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