Sun | Dec 4, 2016

10 signs you’re ready to be an entrepreneur

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

One question I get asked often, especially by young persons, is: "Do I need a university degree to become a successful entrepreneur?" My answer is no.

You do not need a college education to transform an idea into a viable business. There is no perfect age or stage in life to begin either.

It's a fact that some of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world dropped out of college, or in some cases, never even completed high school. Ironically, some of them have gone on to deliver keynote speeches at college graduations and even received honorary degrees from the universities they shunned.

However, I don't want to leave the impression that it's the norm to become a successful entrepreneur with limited education. It is not.

My own experience, having started a business right out of high school and again after leaving university, is that the knowledge, skills, resources and networks acquired from tertiary level programmes are immensely valuable and can offer a distinct advantage when operating a business.

With that said, completing a business-related college degree or even specialised courses in entrepreneurship won't render you ready to launch a career in that discipline, as is the case with other fields such as engineering, teaching, accounting, nursing, information technology, real estate, architecture, etc.

Entrepreneurship is unique in that having the right attitudes and mix of soft skills will far outweigh any technical knowledge or hard skills you would have learned.

Here are some of the signs you may be ready for entrepreneurship:

1. You don't want

to get rich quickly

Getting rich quickly, if at all, rarely happens. It's true that many people have created immense wealth from building successful businesses, but it almost never happens overnight, and the majority of start-ups fail.

2. You're okay

with having a boss

If you hate accountability, having to report to others and an overly demanding boss, then entrepreneurship is not for you. Successful entrepreneurs do have bosses - in the form of customers, financiers, shareholders and the board of directors. They can be far more demanding, rigid and unforgiving than any boss in the traditional sense.

3. You can't

wait to fail

Failure is practically inevitable. If you can't get past losses and are terribly afraid of failure, then you aren't ready for enterprise. Entrepreneurs need to be innovative to keep relevant, and this requires risk-taking, failures and losses.

4. You don't want

to retire early

Entrepreneurship is intricately tied to action, passion and consistent back-breaking work. Most businesses don't come into their own until many years after inception, and their founders have to work tirelessly to create continuity so that the company doesn't die with them. They also love what they do so much, they never want to give it up. If your dream is to have an easy life and be able to retire early, then this is likely not the career for you.

5. You're okay

making enemies

Many people naively believe that when you launch business, everyone will be celebrating. The fact is when you bring innovation to an industry, you upset the status quo, your presence is often a threat to existing businesses that will lose market share and revenue because of you. Others will try to steal what you've created. You must be ready to make and, if necessary, battle with fierce enemies.

6. You're always

hungry

Entrepreneurship can be very unforgiving. No matter how hard you've worked or how much you've achieved, you must stay hungry, keep going or risk being run over by competition. The best entrepreneurs remain audacious and are constantly reinventing themselves and their businesses.

7. You have no

problem firing people

It takes strong, effective leadership to build the right team that will in turn build a great business. Firing non-performers and those who aren't the right fit for the business is a tough decision that entrepreneurs must make quickly and effortlessly. This career path requires vision and fearlessness, especially when managing people.

8. You welcome

criticism and insults

Entrepreneurs need confidence, but they can't afford arrogance. They must surround themselves with people who are better than they are and be open to different perspectives. Sometimes, criticism and complaints offer the gift of improvement. More importantly, they have to learn to decipher and ignore useless critiques, as if they stop to throw back every stone thrown in their path, they'll never reach their destination.

9. You love to sell

If selling makes you uncomfortable, then you'll struggle as an entrepreneur. This is a career that requires you to sell convincingly everyday amid constant rejection. You need to sell your vision to shareholders, customers and employees. You have to sell your ideas to partners and convince funders of your potential. Selling is the most fundamental part of what you do.

10. You're not ashamed to give up

The saddest entrepreneurs are those who languish in dying businesses because they refuse to admit defeat and move on. Businesses have lifespans. Economies change, customers change, and technology renders some obsolete. Good entrepreneurs understand this reality, create an exit strategy for their business, and move on before it dies. They're not trapped in the dogma of image or what others may think or say. They are driven by logic to make the best decisions.

One love!

n Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer in entrepreneurship and workforce innovation.

Email: info@yaneekpage.com. Twitter: @yaneekpage. Website: yaneekpage.com.