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Starting Your Own Business - Do You Have What It Takes?

The entrepreneurial path isn't easy. Are you up for the challenge?

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Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes and personality types. Some are full of big ideas while others are better at execution. Some take big risks while others play it more safe. But there are a few things most successful entrepreneurs have in common.

The most common entrepreneurial traits include a strong desire to be your own boss, the drive to implement your ideas, and a thirst to control your own destiny. Entrepreneurs are inordinately determined to be successful and persevere in the midst of adversity. They thrive on ambiguity and prosper in a world that is confusing and has few answers.

Problem Solving

Running your own business is an ongoing puzzle, a long series of problems to be solved. If you don't like constantly solving a multitude of problems, then an entrepreneurial career might be difficult. Much of your time will be spent troubleshooting, pinpointing problems that are plaguing the business, and trying to solve them. As soon as you solve one problem, others spring up.

Creative and Persuasive

Almost invariably, successful entrepreneurs have the creative capacity to recognize and pursue opportunities. They possess strong selling skills and are both persuasive and persistent. They persuade others to lend them money, work long hours, buy new products or services, and sell products on favorable terms. They are constantly promoting their company, its products or services, and new ideas. Entrepreneurs are visionary and get others excited about and committed to their vision.

Motivated

Entrepreneurs have high energy levels, are impatient, and can't sit still for a minute. They continually think about their business and how to increase market share. Most have experience in the type of venture they start and are confident about launching and operating the firm. Research shows that the role of experience and know-how is central to successful venture creation. If you lack experience, consider working as an apprentice for someone in a business similar to the one you want to start.

Intangible Assets

Successful entrepreneurs rely on their business skills, know-how, and contacts. Evaluate your current talents and your network. Will your skills, contacts and experience readily transfer to the business idea you want to pursue? If not, you might want to do some development work on those areas before starting your venture.

Doing What It Takes

What about support needs? Most corporate workers are surrounded by staff ready to support their activities and are accustomed to having people attend to their needs. Entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of hiring staff support, especially when starting a venture. Instead, they wear many different hats, performing tasks ranging from opening the mail in the morning to emptying the trash at night. They do everything that needs to be done by themselves if necessary.

Risk Tolerance

Risk is involved in making any entrepreneurial venture successful. Entrepreneurs take calculated risks and reduce the risk factor by thoroughly researching their business concepts, industry, and market. One way to reduce risk is to start small¡ªat home¡ªand test your business concept by asking potential customers to buy it. Don't ask friends if they think your venture idea will work. Instead, ask customers to give you a letter of intent to purchase which forces them to seriously think about whether they would buy it. If you are unable to obtain a letter of intent, you may not have a viable idea.

Preparation

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Are you prepared to prepare? If you have the drive to research the industry and your market and write a business plan, you have significantly increased your chances of starting and operating a successful venture.

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