Being an entrepreneur

A friend once said, “I haven’t got an entrepreneurial bone in my body”. After being an entrepreneur for 15 years, one of the key things I’ve learned is that everyone is an entrepreneur – but not everyone can make money from their own business. This friend took an innovative approach, combining legal skills with transfer pricing. She thought she could do things differently by learning more about a pure financial skill and combining it with her legal expertise.

My response to her was that this was an incredibly entrepreneurial approach. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t always mean heading up the next IT start-up. It’s about seeing opportunities. So how does someone know how entrepreneurial they are? Try asking these questions:

    • Do you seek out new opportunities and see different ways of doing business or performing tasks? If you can see new opportunities like my friend, you have entrepreneurial skills. My friend’s new-found expertise could potentially save her company from legal problems, or help with transfer pricing, by understanding how these two field intersect.
    • Do you enjoy thinking up new business ideas and ways to bring these into play? I love thinking of new ideas, and every time I see another entrepreneur my mind goes to how this business could grow more.
  • Does the idea of trying something new or taking a new risk stimulate you? The key quality of any entrepreneur is an appetite for risk. I know a family with a vegetable business that loves buying property. Their key business might be stable, but the property gives them the risk – another entrepreneurial hallmark.

People also often ask me when is a good time to become an entrepreneur. I always say, “You’ll know.” Did you know when you should get married? Have children? Start a new career? Change countries? Sometimes it is planned, other times not. But there are some things you can ask yourself to test your readiness:

    • Is there anything in your life – family, career, other life changes – that would support your being an entrepreneur? Sometimes it is just the right time. Perhaps your partner has a well-paying job and can support you, or someone comes and offers the right opportunity.
    • Do you have some fall-back capital? One thing many entrepreneurs don’t anticipate is that it costs money to be an entrepreneur. Not to pay for things, but to support yourself until the business can pay for things. I say about six months is generally safe – some go with less, others more – it’s up to your risk profile and comfort level.
  • Is this what I want to wake up every day doing? Sometimes people choose businesses because they think they will make a lot of money. But no money can pay for waking up and hating what you do. Make sure you want to do this new venture every day, because entrepreneurship is like marriage – it can be wonderful, but also sometimes it’s not easy to get out.

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. But it can also be the toughest. Not everyone is meant to go out and be an entrepreneur, but you can bring the approach to everything you do. Start by asking yourself the right questions, and gaining some insights on what makes you tick every day.

Written by:
Tamiko Sher
Managing Director | Z.A.ZEN Consulting