5 Signs You Shouldn’t Be an Entrepreneur
It feels weird.
These days it seems like everyone in the world wants to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship has been in vogue lately and people all over the globe are contemplating starting their own business.
In fact, it has been shown that almost half of Americans want to own their own business. A few years ago, a research by UPS found that 48 percent of Americans said they “dream” about starting a small business.
Of course, “dreaming” about something and actually doing it, are two completely different things. Only a small number of these people will actually move forward and get their feet wet with entrepreneurship.
It is true that it has never been easier to start your own business. With so many tools and resources freely available, the complexity of starting a company has been significantly reduced over the past years. Additionally, for online ventures, the capital requirements are minimal, while the prospect of reaching customers all over the world provides a huge upside.
Having said that, the negative side of this situation should also be discussed. And that is that, when the barrier of entry goes down, the masses flock. As a result, we often see cases where people without knowledge and credentials start a business only to fail miserably a couple of years later. In the process, they destroy part of their net worth, or worse, they eliminate their whole life savings.
It is OK not to become an entrepreneur, not everyone should be one.
Some people thrive under the directions of others and would be in a better position as employees than in the helm of a company. Nothing wrong with that.
But in case you’re curious whether the sport of entrepreneurship suits you, assess the following statements. If you find yourself matching with any of these, you might want to reevaluate.
If, however, you read them and feel that they don’t describe you, then maybe it’s time to go for it, always with caution and a strategic plan in place.
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1) You lack self-discipline
Self-discipline refers to the power to discipline our own feelings and desires, with the intention of improving ourselves and moving forward with our goals in life.
This is probably the most important trait of an entrepreneur. Self-discipline is necessary to accomplish our goals, whether in terms of health, relationships or money. It is even more crucial in the area of entrepreneurship.
Building a business is a long term venture with a lot of difficulties. It takes massive effort, which has to be delivered consistently every single day. If you lack self-discipline, it is certain that you are not going to make it. You will never put in the work needed and consequently you will never get to enjoy the results of that work.
Self disciplined people do not allow their choices to be dictated by their feelings. Instead, they are strategic about them. They make informed, rational decisions on a daily basis based on their long term goals and aspirations.
A person’s self-discipline is very dependent on his nature (the genes he was born with), but at the same time, it is a learned behaviour. Even if you score low in self-discipline right now, you can train it and increase your levels of it. It will be a terrific investment of your time.
The single most important step here is to establish productive habits. These will strengthen both your willpower and self-discipline. Examples of habits that you should incorporate into your daily routine are those of working out, meditation, reading books, taking walks etc.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to properly set up your environment. This includes everything from your work space to the people you associate with. You have to proactively design it so that it assists you to accomplish your goals.
Think about it. If you would like to improve your nutrition (which you should), you would remove all unhealthy food from your home, so that you are not tempted to consume it. In the same spirit, you should remove from your life everything that might distract you from your ultimate goal: build a profitable business.
All in all, self-discipline is an important trait that you must possess as an entrepreneur. It will keep you going when things get tough and will allow you to ultimately accomplish your goals.
2) You need an external source of motivation
As an entrepreneur, you can’t depend on external sources for motivation. It is all on you.
There must be some kind of internal motive that drives you to move forward despite the difficulties. This might be the desire for Financial Freedom or living the good life or changing the world. The purpose is not that significant for your motivation, as long as it originates internally.
You can’t rely on other people to motivate you, this is not a sustainable approach. If anything, most of the time it will be the opposite, people will be unsupportive. You might even get opposition from your friends and family.
Even if some of your peers are willing to support you and prompt you towards action, this is not a long-term solution, because the motivation that they provide is going to have diminishing returns. Entrepreneurship is a long journey and over the long run this approach will not be sufficient.
What you have to do is tap into the inspiring force of internal or intrinsic motivation. In order to do that, you have to ask yourself “Why”? Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Why do you desire to become rich? This will give you a clear purpose and solidify your motivation.
Note that money itself is usually not a good motivator. You don’t want to make $1M just for the sake of having $1M in the bank. That is just a number in your bank account. In reality, you want that $1M for what it can offer you. Maybe financial freedom, or maybe luxury and status, or even all of the above.
Since we are finite and emotional creatures, our internal motivation can be challenged from times to times. We may find ourselves confused and exhausted.This is the reason why “small wins” are so important during your early steps as an entrepreneur.
“Small wins” are mini-achievements or mini-accomplishments that you attain. They could be purely monetary (gaining your first dollar, or having your first $1,000 day) or not (getting your first e-mail subscribers, or hitting a milestone of 5,000 of them). These validate that you are moving towards the right direction and will give small boosts of confidence. For this reason they should be celebrated and treasured.
Internal motivation goes hand in hand with self-discipline. These personality traits are the pillars upon which you are going to build your business empire. Make sure to develop and nurture them.
3) You are not willing to invest in business skills
Most people don’t understand that being a successful business owner and entreprepreneur involves a whole array of skills, most of which are not necessarily technical ones. They think that just because you are a competent employee or freelancer, you have what it takes to launch your own business. That is just not true.
Building and running a business is a totally different game in comparison to being an employee or even a self-employed professional.
Apart from the technical skills (e.g. programming, designing, etc.), you are going to need to be capable of performing those miscellaneous tasks that are necessary in order for your business to run smoothly.
Let’s consider the example of a software developer, since they are close to my heart.
Mark is a software developer with many years of experience. He gets hired in a SaaS startup founded by a serial entrepreneur and he is paid a high salary in order to develop the product that the company offers. He is the only developer in the team.
After a couple of years, the startup gains traction and achieves tremendous amounts of cashflow. The founder sells the business for a seven figure amount and goes on to start his new venture. Mark receives nothing from this transaction since he had not equity in the business.
Confused by the outcome, Mark contemplates upon what happened. From his perspective, he deserved some additional financial reward for his efforts since he was the one who built the product that made the business a huge success.
He believes that he can make it on his own. After all, he was the “brains” behind that business, right? He decides to venture on his own, going on to build the technically best product that he can imagine.
After a year or so, he launches his product to the world. The problem? Nobody wants it, there is no need for it in the marketplace. Six months later, he is disappointed by the lack of sales and decides to close shop and seek employment in another startup.
What Mark failed to see is all the other moving parts that make a business successful. Market research, product development, marketing, sales, accounting, customer service etc. As a typical developer he shuns marketing and sales, considering them “inferior” skills. The truth is that all of these have to work synergistically in order for a business to survive, grow and thrive.
Unless you are willing to invest time and effort in building your business skills, you are not going to make it as an entrepreneur. A business is an organic entity that involves much more than a competent professional performing a technical task.
4) You are not willing to let go
This sign is closely related to the point above. As a business owner, you will have to get involved in a whole spectrum of tasks, from marketing to accounting. The issue here is that it is impossible to be proficient in all of these, and at the same time, it is impossible to have the time to deal with all of them.
For this reason, you have to be willing to delegate part of all this work to other people who will take over some part of the workload. You have to be willing to “let go” and assign these tasks to your team, even if you could have completed them in a better way. You have to look at the bigger picture.
The problem is that many people are guided by their emotions on this and resist such a change. They can’t accept that somebody else will get ownership over a task or job that they were previously responsible for. Presenting this kind of resistance is a typical symptom of Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis.
It is true that when your business is in its infancy, you will probably have to do everything and anything. Most startups are bound by capital, so they have to rely on their founders’ labor (sweat equity) to move forward.
However, once the business is established and generates some revenue, you should take the measures to gradually remove yourself from it. This requires outsourcing and delegating your tasks and responsibilities to your team.
This is what we mean when we say that an entrepreneur should work “on the business”, instead of “in the business”. Moving towards that direction will help you build a scalable and saleable business that has value in the marketplace and can be considered a precious tradeable asset.
Remember, we are finite beings in a quest to build businesses with “infinite” scale. The only way to do so is by leveraging technology (automation etc.) and Other People’s Time (OPT) via their labor.
5) You score low in Emotional Intelligence
If one thing is certain about humans, it is that we are emotional beings. We are far from the rational creatures that we would like to be. Emotions dictate the vast majority of our actions in life, and only a small percentage of our actions are driven by rationality.
For this reason, it is imperative that you are able to understand and leverage emotions, yours and those you are doing business with. This is what emotional intelligence is all about.
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify, understand, use and manage our emotions and other people’s emotions in positive ways in order to communicate effectively, empathize with others, influence decisions and overcome challenges.
It has been proven again and again that emotional intelligence is the highest predictor of success in life, so investing the time to develop yours is one of the best investments you can make. There is no easy way on how to achieve this, but it is something that you can train and gradually build. In order to do so, read some good books and make sure to socialize more.
One of the biggest aspects of emotional intelligence is managing fear. Fear is one of our most primal emotions and has evolved in humans in order to keep us safe from danger. Fear makes us to be hesitant and sometimes withdraw from the place of action.
For our ancestors, fear was a warning sign that kept them safe from all kinds of threats, from enemy tribes to hungry sabertooths. Their environment was dangerous and thus being cautious was indeed a helpful trait.
The problem is that we humans have not changed much in comparison to our ancestors, but our environment has. The environment we live nowadays is relatively safe in the majority of the world. So more often than not, the fear we feel is a “false alarm” that deters us from taking action.
Taking the leap to entrepreneurship requires that you have control over your emotions, and especially over fear. Fear of failure, fear of success (yes, that is a thing), fear of what other people might say, fear of losing money, fear of making mistakes.
Your ability to manage fear will dictate the level of success you can attain as an entrepreneur.
If your emotional intelligence levels are low, chances are that your are fighting an uphill battle, not only in business, but in life in general. Make sure to take the necessary steps to develop it and your chances of success will rise substantially.
Entrepreneurship is getting very popular nowadays and for good reason. It is one of the best vehicles we can utilize for wealth creation. At the same time, it has never been easier to start your own business, especially a virtual one.
However, not everyone is ready or even capable of making the leap. There are some specific character traits that hint towards the fact that you are not going to make it as an entrepreneur.
For example, if you lack the necessary self-discipline or can’t find some internal source of motivation, you won’t last this long journey. If you are not flexible enough to add other skills to your arsenal and build a team that will help you, you will just spin your wheels and go nowhere. And finally, if you are not able to recognize and handle your own emotions, results will be dismal.
But don’t fret. Even if you present some of these signs at the moment, not all hope is lost. Most of these can be countered by educating yourself and setting your mindset straight. It won’t be easy or quick, but it can be done.
Remember, entrepreneurship is a long term adventure. Stay the course!