Have you always felt like you were destined for more? Like you were meant to strike out and do your own thing? That’s how I’ve always felt. I wasn’t much interested in fitting into society, but was more focused on how I could change it. My earliest memory of entrepreneurship was coming up with the idea to sell balloons to my friends at school. I seem to recall that I would sell them for $2.50. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as intelligent as I was ambitious. I still remember trying to cram a blown-up balloon into my school bag and wondering how I was going to fit in more than one. Fast forward about 20 years and I’ve still got that itch. The company I work for was recently acquired by a huge, billion-dollar corporation. It made me think: Do I want to subject myself to the whims of forces out of my control? The answer was “no”. I felt like I could be an entrepreneur, but I had to model myself after other people who have made it. Here are the seven behaviors I discovered that make people born entrepreneurs:
1. Never felt as interested in buying things as I did in working out how they were being sold
No matter the craze: Apple products, mobile games, clothes, sneakers, or luxury goods, I couldn’t get sucked in. Instead, I watched on the sidelines as other people couldn’t help themselves and shelled out their hard-earned cash to buy something they couldn’t live without. I was more fascinated how companies and brands did this. What made them so attractive? How did their customers feel after acquiring their products? How did they make them feel this way? I was hell-bent on understanding this.
2. An insatiable hunger to learn more about people and what makes them take action
I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick. There’s this quote which is often attributed to Einstein that I love: “Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination. ”Our brilliance comes from our minds. They can sometimes fail us when we most need them to work, but they have already gotten us this far. Having said this, there are numerous “loopholes” which make us susceptible to triggers that can make normally very rational people behave irrationally. This fascinates me. It’s what makes people consider that something is a bargain if they see a “SALE” sign next to it, even though they may not know what the original price was. If it fascinates you too, then you could be a born entrepreneur.
3. Refusal to settle and accept that this is all there is to life
When I commute to work I try to block myself from the wave of dreariness that hits me every time I board the train. Everyone looks bored and is trying to distract themselves from the reality that they have created. When I surreptitiously peek at their phones it’s always the same culprits: Facebook, Candy Crush, Instagram, envy, instant gratification, and jealousy. This is not how life’s meant to be lived. I don’t have any of those apps on my phone. Don’t get me wrong. Some days I just want to forget the world and get lost in a game. The problem is when it happens every single day, without knowing it you’re conditioning your brain to get stuck in a rut. Once you’re there it’s hard to get out.
Entrepreneurship is about getting out of your comfort zone every single day. The only thing that’s certain is that there will almost always be a new challenge to throw you off balance. If you don’t like that then the routine of a regular job probably suits you.
4. Have a high emotional intelligence
Being an entrepreneur is less about being smart and more about knowing how to manage your own emotions. Time and time again we see people who have no formal education coming out on top simply because they possess grit and the courage to keep the dream alive. While this might seem simple, it’s not easy. Think about Colonel Sanders trying to find a kitchen that would cook his Kentucky Fried Chicken. 1,009 times he was told “no” before he found a place that would accept his recipe, and now look at the legacy he has left: thousands of jobs and happy customers all over the world. He might not have considered himself an entrepreneur, but in every sense of the word, he was. Would you take 1,009 “no’s”? I’m not even sure I would. Think hard about this before you decide to venture out.
5. Constantly having ideas of ways to improve existing products
I can’t help it. When I see products I have to analyze them and see whether they can be improved in some way, shape, or form. Sometimes it’s not even the product. It’s the marketing and advertising. If it’s done poorly and doesn’t accurately communicate the benefits it drives me up the wall. This circles back to a desire to understand people. If there’s no interest in people, there’s no interest in their problems. That’s reflected in the product. People don’t want something cool and shiny. They want their itches scratched.
6. Unafraid to lead, be unpopular, and buck the trend for the greater good
This is something a lot of people can’t handle. Too much of their self-worth rests in the basket of other peoples’ opinions. Of course, this is all in their heads; people will respect you more if you tell them “no” sometimes. The difference here is when you’re an entrepreneur and trying to change people’s opinions or behaviors, you’re doing it on scale which is exponentially more difficult. Entrepreneurs are about creating value through new concepts. Sometimes it takes months- maybe years- for acceptance of a concept. That’s why patience and perseverance in the face of rejection are important traits in entrepreneurs. If you aren’t able to do something by yourself for a period of time before it becomes popular, entrepreneurship may not be the right avenue for you.
7. Great keeper of habits
Entrepreneurs are able to fall in love with boredom and compound consistent, hard work every day. Too often the romantic aspect of entrepreneurship is emphasized, while the hard work involved is overlooked. Yes, entrepreneurship can sometimes provide stomach flips but a lot of the work is also dull and uneventful. For example, you might do a lot of cold calling trying to find customers. Not only can this be nerve- wracking, it’s also dull. In the early days if it’s just you on your own, you might have to do a lot of the writing, coding, or designing yourself, which is hard work and can be monotonous. Entrepreneurship isn’t for people who can’t focus and stick to tasks. Keeping good habits is the fuel that supports the belief that you can create something worthwhile that will benefit society.
How many of these seven behaviors do you possess? Do they reaffirm that you are (or are not) a born entrepreneur?