Google the phrase "Are you an entrepreneur?" and you'll get a lot of help thinking through what should be the first question you ask before starting a new venture. Because entrepreneurs are a busy bunch, we've compiled a top 10 list right here.
Our Top 10 List
- You're always looking for opportunities. This is almost the definition of an entrepreneur. Every pain point is an opportunity.
- Are you prepared to work long hours, every day, for an indefinite period of time? Ahem, let's dispel illusions. Put down "The 4-Hour Workweek"; it is a myth that the author spun to sell books (so that he could work 4 hours a week).
- Good Health. You cannot answer "Yes" to item #2 unless you are blessed with good health and the discipline to maintain it in tough times.
- Do you have a unique service or product? Most entrepreneurs have a pocketful of ideas, many of them viable. But they suffer from the "kid in a candy store" dilemma, not knowing which to choose. The trick is choosing the one that really is a winner and having the discipline (see item #9) to ignore all the others.
- Are you willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term success? There will be long periods of time when everyone around you questions your sanity, and on all normal metrics (hours worked and stress endured vs. material rewards gained), they would be right.
- Honesty and integrity. You often have to be able to work with people without the protection of legal contracts. It is the essence of moving fast, and you often simply won't be able to afford a lawyer. So, you have to work with people who have honesty and integrity. It is hard to do that unless you have honesty and integrity yourself.
- You're dreaming miles ahead while focused on what you're doing right now. The entrepreneur is an odd mix: part dreamer, part brutal realist and pragmatist. You should focus first on today and, secondly, on the big picture, and ignore the rest. Today is about the immediate stuff that you have to get done to stay in business, to deliver projects to clients, to collect cash, and so on. The big picture is about looking at what the world might look like 10 years from now and then building towards that. We cannot know what will happen next week, month, or year. The medium term is totally unknown. However, many long-term trends are fairly clear, even though the timetable is unknown.
- Are you self-confident? You will almost certainly be going against odds that would make most people run away.
- Discipline. This relates to many of the other traits mentioned in this checklist. You will need discipline to maintain your health (item #2), so that you can work hard (item #3), so that you can focus on the one product or service you have chosen and ignore all temptations (item #4).
- You're prepared to say, "I don't know, but I'll figure it out." Entrepreneurs have to be generalists. They may know one thing very, very well. But they also have to know enough about almost everything else to occasionally do those things themselves, and have the judgment to eventually hire the right people to do those things.