Check out 7 possible signs of entrepreneurial success

By Stephen W. Gibson
Brigham Young University


Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Not everyone has it, you know. Sure, you may occasionally find yourself yearning for the opportunity to pick your own hours and do whatever you want to do. But when it comes right down to it, leaving the safe, warm cocoon of eight-hour days, sick leave, paid holidays and three weeks of compensated vacation time is hard to do.

And not everyone can do it.

Writing for the MSN Business Report, Joseph Anthony recently posted a listing of "Seven Signs of an Entrepreneur."

"You don't have to fit all seven of these categories to be a good candidate for entrepreneurship," Anthony wrote. "But in general, the more you have in common with these characteristics, the closer you probably are to being ready to try going out on your own."

I'm not sure I agree with all seven of Anthony's entrepreneurial characteristics, but they are at least worth considering. They are as follows:
  • You come from a line of people who couldn't work for someone else. According to Anthony, "people who are successful at establishing their own business tend to have had parents who worked for themselves." I think I might word this one slightly differently. While I have seen many successful entrepreneurs who, like me, came from working-class parents, successful entrepreneurs tend to have children who are interested in entrepreneurship.
  • You're a lousy employee. "Think of it as the marketplace telling you that the only person who can effectively motivate and manage you is yourself," Anthony wrote. Once again, that wasn't exactly my experience. I was a good employee back in my salaried days, although I know other entrepreneurs who had a hard time working for someone else.
  • You see more than one definition of "job security." I agree with Anthony's observation that "job security can be frighteningly fleeting," especially in a rapidly changing economy. I also agree with Dilbert, who said, "It's way better to have 100 idiot clients than to have one idiot boss."
  • You've gone as far as you can go, or you're not going anywhere at all. Boy, I remember that feeling. And it was a huge motivation for me. I was - and still am - a big believer in goal-setting, and nothing is more frustrating to a goal-setter than to arrive at a place at which you feel you have no place left to go and no more goals to set.
  • You've done the market research already. "Don't even talk to me about your great business idea if you haven't put the time into figuring out if there's a market for your product or service," Anthony writes. "As the people behind any number of failed Internet ventures will tell you, 'cool' doesn't necessarily translate into 'profitable.'"
  • You've got the support of your family. I'm totally with Anthony on this one, too. There is no way I could have made the break from the world of salaries to entrepreneurship if I hadn't had the full and absolutely unqualified support of my wife, Bette. As Anthony says, "starting a business is stressful under the best of circumstances. Trying to do it without the support of your spouse... would probably be unbearable."
  • You know you cannot do it alone. I don't know of anyone who is equally adept at all of the elements of entrepreneurial success. I know marketing geniuses who are lousy with the books. And I know brilliant money managers who wouldn't know a good promotional idea if it bit them in the nose. Having the humility to understand that your success will largely be determined by the kind of team you put together is one of the first and most important things I look for in aspiring entrepreneurs.
    Especially if I'm trying to decide if they have what it takes to make it.

Stephen W. Gibson is affiliated with the BYU Center for Entrepreneurship. He can be reached via e-mail at cfe@byu.edu.