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What it takes to become an entrepreneur

Updated on January 11, 2011
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer. Backed by 3 decades of industrial experience, he writes on several aspects of business, management and HR.

Entrepreneurship - Can you really carry on with it?
Entrepreneurship - Can you really carry on with it? | Source

There is a saying: Some are born great, some acquire greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

This saying can be rephrased to make it applicable to the entrepreneurial spirit: Some are born to work; some become entrepreneurs and some have entrepreneurship thrust upon them!

Working or own business- which is better? What does it take to be an entrepreneur? This question can be answered only with respect to the spirit of the individual person who fits into any one of the three categories above. The characteristics and temperaments of persons in these categories are many times different.

People who are born to work for others

These people will normally have the following characteristics:

  • They are very particular about getting a secure, predictable and a steady income. They would like to have the best control over their income and expenditure and their capacity to borrow and repay.
  • They would not like to take any huge risk at their own cost; They may be excellent managers who have the capacity to take the right decisions and take the calculated risks within their scope of responsibility in the organization they work for, but they know well that they have the relevant safeguards in place; the safeguards are in the form of higher managerial support and the company's capacity to absorb the consequences, if their risk-taking backfires.
  • They take pride in their designations, their ascent in the corporate ladder, and the perks and privileges associated with their status in the organization. Those who have grown to very respectable positions in their organizations know pretty well that some of the perks they enjoy could not be dreamed of by many entrepreneurs who do business with their organization.
  • In their opinion, the idea that "being a master of their own affairs"- "not being answerable to anybody else" is not truly and absolutely practical. In an organization, you have to be answerable to your boss. In the case of an entrepreneur, he has to be answerable to his customer, since customer is ultimately the boss. So, their line of argument is: if independence is the motivating factor, there is not much of independence even if you are self-employed.

It is obvious that for people of above nature, working is the best option and they are quite right in their own way. However successful they might be in their managerial spirit, they may not blossom to become entrepreneurs.

People who become entrepreneurs

Some of the characteristics of these people are:

  • They do not mind taking huge risks if their inner voice keeps saying "you can do it".
  • They are flexible enough to be prepared to live with unsteady and unpredictable income. Either they guard themselves against ups and downs by judicious savings or by jumping into the river and trying to swim against all odds.
  • They have a dream to realize; a pet idea that they believe will work; They are willing to pump in every breath of theirs to bringing life to their dream. They are least concerned about position, status, respectability etc in the early stages of working to realize their dreams and they know that once they succeed, everything else will fall in place. Being the chief of their own little county is more prestigious to them than being one of the ministers of a huge empire.
  • They take pride in calling their own shots. It is not that they do not know the customer is the ultimate boss. They know they are answerable to their customers and other stakeholders. But, the difference, in their perception is that they have the freedom to choose which customer to serve or not to serve. By virtue of their risk taking capacity, they can exercise this freedom at will and be bold enough to face the consequences, unlike their baiters at the corporate ladder.

For people of above nature, it goes without saying that doing own business is best suited. They may wobble, tumble and may even fall down at initial stages, but by virtue of their burning spirit, they are bound to straighten up, walk and run to reach their destination successfully.

People upon whom entrepreneurship is thrust 

Thrust upon by whom?

  • Perhaps by their own misguided dreams of making it big, without the basic talents and grittiness needed for it
  • perhaps by a twist of fate, they lost their jobs and based on the bitter experience in working under somebody else, they came to a conclusion that they too can be their own bosses and make a difference;
  • perhaps by a father-cum-business owner (or a father-in-law cum business owner) who bequeathed the business to the incapable, unprepared and unfit person to carry it along.

For such persons, it may be difficult to categorically state what the better option is. Some may falter, fail miserably and realizing their limitations comeback to the comforts of a salaried job. Some may still persist after a failure, learn from mistakes, gather themselves up and keep going so as to taste the fruits of success after a long drawn struggle.

Many people make mistakes in life just by comparing themselves with successful persons. That way, very successful entrepreneurs may look like role models for many to follow or emulate. But unless one is clear as to whether entrepreneurial spirit exists in him/ her, it will be foolhardy to jump in without self analysis and then face problems.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A superb hub with very helpful advice.