The Ultimate Founder Test: Are You Ready to Become an Entrepreneur?
As a corporate employee, you can be a dot on the map, or you can be the map itself. Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
Here are some of the statistics on the new businesses that are springing up in the US:
- 60.3% entrepreneurs started their own business because the standard work place environment did not hold any appeal for them.
- 82% of the startups have been funded by the entrepreneurs themselves or by their friends and family.
Neil Patel, the founder of KISSmetrics, says that 90% of the startups fail and only 10% survive. According to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy: “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”
According to a publication by SBA, ‘Small Business by the Numbers’, 13-14% more patents are produced by small businesses employees in comparison to the large patenting firms.
In this article, you will first learn about 1) the difference between corporate world and entrepreneurship, and explore then 2) finding the right fit, 3) founder test – questions you should ask yourself, and 4) founder test – 8 signs that indicate you were born to become an entrepreneur.
CORPORATE WORLD VS. ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Here are three ways how entrepreneurship is different from the corporate world. Those are not the strict rules, but rather tendencies:
- Corporate workers are highly educated and have illustrious resumes. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are their own resume.
- Corporate workers apply their education in their jobs and are able to back up their work with popular theories and models. However, entrepreneurs follow their instinct and passion only.
- Corporate workers are clear, precise and predictable and follow rules, routine and patterns. In contrast, entrepreneurs may be not as clear about their objectives and may be slightly disorganized in the founding phase.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
Jun Loayza, the founder of Future Delivery, a startup, differentiates the corporate life with the life of an entrepreneur and lists down what being an entrepreneur actually means. He feels that born entrepreneurs would feel shackled and unhappy as corporate workers. But they would be able to make a better choice only after getting the best of both worlds and realizing what being an entrepreneur actually means.
Entrepreneurship is a Lifestyle and Not a Work-Life Balance
Entrepreneurship is a deliberately chosen tough lifestyle. Entrepreneurs work harder than everyone else, just because they choose to. Most corporate workers follow a 9-5 pattern and thrive in it, plan and look forward to weekends and vacations. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are always on the go, their subconscious is always actively at work, even in their sleep.
Entrepreneurship is a Financial Risk and Not a Safe Deal
In terms of money, entrepreneurship is a risk-prone investment, in terms of everything: time, money, energy, but money takes precedence because it means that you will use your own money to kick-start your venture. It means that you are at a risk to lose everything. An entrepreneur has to embrace the possibility of being broke and understand that entrepreneurship does not promise oodles of money right away. Those looking for a steady paycheck should stick to a 9-5 job.
Entrepreneurship Requires You to Be the Best Always and Not Second Best
When you are a corporate worker, you are safe if you stick to the defined patterns and rules. You only have to do a little better than others around you to stay in your job and get the bigger cubicle or the promotion. However, as an entrepreneur, you have to be the best always to stay ahead of the game. You strive for excellence, not the ‘good’ or ‘fair enough’. In many ways, you are competing with yourself only and measuring yourself against your own standards. So in a way you end up being your hardest critic as well.
THE FOUNDER TEST – QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF
Do you have what it takes to fit the entrepreneur paradigm? Answer the following questions:
Are you ready to limit your procrastination?
Entrepreneurs wanted! Procrastinators need not apply. According to Paolo Pavan: “Procrastination kills your business.” Entrepreneurs do not drag on time and keep on delaying important tasks until they are absolutely due. They do not contemplate a lot when making tough calls and decisions. They do not believe in watching TV and playing online games or browsing the web idly for hours. Entrepreneurs move around with agility and precision. For them “To be or not to be” is never the question. They are more in the league of “Do it Or Die!”
Are you ready for challenging questions?
In a crowd full of people with regular 9-5 jobs and a steady salary, an entrepreneur is the odd person out, so he would stand out. Since people won’t understand why an entrepreneur does what he does, so a lot of awkward and challenging questions would be thrown his way, such as, “But what do you actually do?”, “Does it pay well?”, “Why don’t you just get a regular job?”, etc.
Thus, entrepreneurship is a lonely road and you would be often misunderstood by those around you. Your personal relationships would suffer as well because you would choose to work when everyone would be celebrating festivals and holidays. You would often end up arriving very late to a family event or may end up skipping it altogether to attend to the last minute details or sorting work-related emergencies.
Are you ready to be a teamplayer?
After discussing the entrepreneur at length, we move on to the other important aspect that is his or her team. Entrepreneurship is not a one-man show. It is not a sole prerogative of the man on top. Rather, entrepreneurship is an attitude that is diffused throughout the team. An entrepreneur hooks up with hardworking individuals, works with them, and leads them to achieve an anticipated goal.
These individuals may lack creative vision and entrepreneur fire, but they refine the entrepreneur’s ideas through execution and application. Thus, entrepreneurship is a collective effort and not necessarily a solo one. It is an enterprise where the achievement of an entrepreneur is the result of accumulation of small and large contributions of other talented individuals. A good entrepreneur honors his or her team.
Are you ready to fail?
The entrepreneur is not a pessimist but he understands that he might fail. In fact, the failure statistics of startups are pretty real. 90% of startups fail that means one in ten startups usually achieve success. The entrepreneur has the hardest job that is, to keep on working 100 hours per week, continue to inspire the team working under him, and keep on paying them despite a loss and hoping against hope that it will all soon fall into place. Sometimes, it does; many times, it does not. Hence, they also know when to pull the plug, accept failure and work in another direction, or take a fresh start. Entrepreneurs are optimistic and resilient. They understand that it takes many attempts and failed efforts to finally succeed.
Do you have great creative solutions to solve problems?
Potential entrepreneurs become distinct and noticeable from start even when they are working in corporate sectors. They are the innovators, solution providers, and over achievers. They create value for the company, hate wastefulness even when it is the company’s money that is getting wasted; they look for creative solutions and pitch ideas.
Entrepreneurs do not look for monetary compensations or try to work in accordance to their paycheck. They actually deliver in terms of results and impact and not just move from deadline to deadline. They do not arrive on time and are messy but they are also creative and may get ten hours of work done in two hours and then start on something entirely new.
Do you have other priorities rather than only financial reward?
Entrepreneurs may or may not have formal education and important degrees from illustrious universities, but they have the expertise, creativity, and passion. They also do not attach monetary importance to everything, they continue working towards a goal without thinking about the compensation, promotion, or bonus. They do not ask the question: “What’s in it for me?” They rather ask: “What is the best way to do this?” “What am I good at? What am I best at?”
Are you ready to sell your products by yourself?
Entrepreneurs are excellent communicators, but not in terms of suave and glibness. They do not have the charms of the snake-oil salesman. Yet they are often asked to give presentations and lead in on meetings. They are conversational and passionate. They deliver with confidence whenever they are asked to contribute from the front. They convince; they do not offer suggestions; they offer solutions. From being embodiment of their company’s vision and mission statement, they are everything: communicators of important announcements, emails, sales pitches and presentations as well as mediators amidst conflicts. They can give presentations anywhere, anytime because they are so attuned to their ideas and vision.
Are you ready to make your angry customers and employees happy again?
More people turn to the entrepreneur to have insight into the policies and procedures instead of the HR. Entrepreneurs do not departmentalize and compartmentalize things, they do not hide behind the procedures. They are quick enough to assist new employees and potential customers.
Likewise, they quickly respond to irritated and angry customers in person. They move in to carry out damage control when needed. People turn to entrepreneurs than to others because they trust them to find a solution.
8 SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOU WERE BORN TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR
Following are the several signs that can help you determine if you are an entrepreneur or not.
You’re Passionate about What You Do
You are not ruled by the desire for money or by fame, rather than by the desire to do what you are passionate about. You have a higher purpose in life. You are a self-starter and do not need to be managed. Whenever you feel stuck in a situation, you do not compromise or go with the drift and flow. If you feel stuck in a situation, you make an effort to change it.
You Never Take No for an Answer
Naysayers do not deter you. You see every ‘no’ as an opportunity to improve, strategize, reinvent, and approach the prospect with another angle. You persist until you are able to turn the no into a ‘yes’. You see possibilities in negations. When you are told that their ideas are unlikely to work and would flop miserably, you do not take it to heart. You work even harder and persist.
It does not make you foolhardy. You hear valid criticism and improve your ideas and strategies. You face obstacles and failures like everyone; you feel dejected too. However, you do not give up and try to create an alternate path around a problem and find a solution.
You Have a Competitive Nature
You are competitive and not complacent. You want to do better than others. When you see someone successful, you do not feel indifferent or jealous; you see the possibilities instead and ask yourself: “Why can’t this be me?”, “How can I be better?”, “How can I succeed?”
An entrepreneur tries to gain a competitive advantage over his rival by fair means. The competition in the startup world is intense and you have to keep on working hard to gain even a little competitive edge over your rivals and to stay ahead of the game. Startups fail when they are unable to face the competition. However, competition is a way to test and improve one’s ideas and products. In fact, the success of the business depends on the ability of the entrepreneur to keep on inventing and reinventing.
You Are a Self Starter
You are a self-starter and do not need to wait for motivation or the deadline. You work with minimum supervision and work with ideas. You are not concerned with whether everyone else is showing up or not, and when. You start your work ahead of everyone and continue working until it is done. You are not ruled by the clock on the wall but rather the inner clock that keeps you gunning ahead for getting it right.
You Think Out of the Box
You never stop thinking. You are always thinking about ideas and their feasibility and potential. You brainstorm and make clusters of ideas. Your ideas and solutions are not just great and extraordinary but practical and executable as well. In the entrepreneur world, the desire to create something is not just about creating something from scratch, but also about improving something that is already there. You do not work hard to “get an idea or find it” instead; you try to look for ways to make something that people want or love, even better.
You have Your own Definition of Success
Success and failure are two subjective terms. For a corporate worker, success might be a huge salary, a bigger house, a cruise, or a retirement plan. However, money is not always success. For an entrepreneur, it can be the ability to invent something that people would find useful, to make oneself memorable, and to leave a legacy behind.
You might have lesser money and work long hours, practically out of your garage, as an entrepreneur. But as long as you are doing what you have always dreamed of or loved then you are luckier than most. Most of the corporate workers wake up every day dreading to go to work and wish it had been the weekend.
You are Unpredictable
As an entrepreneur, you are unpredictable and adventurous. You make changes often to shake things up, to make an idea or product better. However, unpredictability does not mean that entrepreneurs are impulsive and irresponsible; they embody the spirit of reliable unpredictability that is, they need to change and evolve continuously in order to be better than the rest. You cannot afford to get satisfied and stop innovating your existing idea and product because the world around you is highly competitive.
You Have Strong People’s Skills
You understand as an entrepreneur that you are dealing with people ultimately, no matter what is the product or idea that you are selling. You serve the customers as well as manage your team. You convince people and win them over to your side. If you are not good at communicating, then you try to learn and evolve. Entrepreneurs try to spend time with people and rather than working in isolation. If they are not good at communicating, then they try to partner with someone who is better.
Besides the above-mentioned eight signs of an entrepreneur, you can also take a personality test to determine if you have the personality to be an entrepreneur. A free version of a short personality test is available here.
To score well on this test, one has to be a reformer and move by the desire to change what exists, into something better. They recognize problems and seek practical solutions to solve them. They try to create value for everyone, and not just for themselves.
Here is what the great entrepreneur, Steve Jobs stated about entrepreneurs:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”