Are you an entrepreneur?

Are you an entrepreneur? Perhaps you know one and if so, what separates an entrepreneur from any other business owner?

What are the key characteristics required to be an entrepreneur?

Search for a definition of the word and you will find something along the following lines: a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

That word ‘risk’ tends to show up pretty consistently in the definitions and it is certainly true that entrepreneurs will often go after new opportunities whose outcome may be far from certain, so this is probably one key aspect. However, I think there are four other key differentiating characteristics.

1. Risk-taking

2. Opportunism

3. Big-picture Thinkers

4. Great personal organisation

5. People-orientation

As per the above, the risk-taking aspect is pretty well understood to be a necessary component and in the words of my late Dad, “you need to speculate to accumulate”, but sometimes risk-taking does not pay off.

In actual fact, many entrepreneurs experience failures but the good ones learn from their mistakes and apply this hard-won knowledge to do things better next time around (this is known as having a growth mindset).

Many multi-millionaires have gone broke at some stage in their careers.

Being able to spot an opportunity and act on it before others is also a key element that separates entrepreneurs from your average businessperson.

They either come up with the idea themselves (innovators) or get on board early with new ideas (early adopters).

In order to be able to do this, they possess a laser-like focus, clear on the outcome(s) they want and are prepared to work hard to achieve.

They don’t get easily distracted having a very practical and pragmatic approach to business.

Everyone will sit somewhere on a spectrum of high detail (lists, agendas, structure, dotting the ’i’s and crossing the ’t’s etc) at one end and big picture (visionary and more focused on concepts and possibilities) at the other.

Entrepreneurs are much more commonly found nearer the ‘big picture’ end of this spectrum since they see more value in looking at alternatives, new ideas and thinking about possible outcomes and see less value in spending time on the minute details of implementation.

Having said that though, good entrepreneurs have to be well organised if they are to be successful since at the early stages of setting up a new venture, there are always lots of things to think about.

Having good systems, structures, processes and practices in place is pretty well essential in order to keep a finger on the wide variety of things to be managed if the opportunity is to come to fruition.

Good systems and processes also lead to greater efficiency and hence more time for important things.

At the end of the day, business is all about dealing with people. If you don’t like dealing with people, you cannot deal effectively in business since as they say, “people do business with people they know, like and trust”.

If you find it hard to engage with others (perhaps a bit introverted), but still want to be an entrepreneur, you will need to challenge yourself to go out and meet and network with others.

This will not only improve your ability to effectively engage with people, your chances of identifying those new opportunities will also go up as well.

Ian Ash is the managing director for OrgMent Business Solutions.