Elena Fawkner

Article Summary:

Defines what it takes to become an entrepreneur: defined, history, common issues.

Do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur? - Part 1

Fully one in ten adults in the United States today is an entrepreneur. This phenomenon is by no means restricted to North America. The leading country for entrepreneurship is Brazil with one in eight adults an entrepreneur. Australia is not far behind the U.S. with one in twelve. These countries - Brazil, the United States and Australia - lead the way. Contrast, for example, Germany (one in 25), the United Kingdom (one in 33), Finland and Sweden (one in 50) and Ireland and Japan (less than one in 100). (Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2000.)

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 1999 defined entrepreneurship as "any attempt at new business or new venture creation, such as self-employment, a new business organization, or the expansion of an existing business, by an individual, a team of individuals, or an established business."

Entrepreneurship is a major contributing factor to the economic well-being of a country both in terms of economic growth and job creation. Traditionally, entrepreneurial ability tended to focus on the following four attributes:

  • Initiative - the entrepreneur takes the initiative to bring together the economic resources of land, labor and capital to produce a commodity (whether a good or a service) with the hope that such production will create a profitable business venture.

  • Decision-making - the entrepreneur makes the basic business policy decisions for the business, thereby setting the course of the enterprise.

  • Innovation - the entrepreneur is an innovator, attempting to introduce new products and new ways of doing things.

  • Risk-taker - the entrepreneur risks his or her time, effort, business reputation and invested funds in the entrepreneurial venture.

    Until recently, the above attributes, especially innovation and risk-taking, were the dominant factors that defined the characteristics of those who chose to become entrepreneurs.

    Now, however, with corporate downsizing being a fact of life, many entrepreneurs find themselves thrust into the role by default.

    The question for anyone either finding themselves in this position involuntarily or thinking about leaving corporate life for the heady world of entrepreneurship is whether you have what it takes to be successful ... the right stuff in other words. Some people do, in spades. Others simply don't. If you're one of the ones who just doesn't, either resign yourself to working for someone else or cultivate in yourself the qualities that successful entrepreneurs share. Believe it or not, entrepreneurs are not just born. Well, some, of course, seem to be natural-born entrepreneurs, but for the rest of us, the qualities of entrepreneurship can definitely be acquired by hard work and application.

    The common denominator issues facing all entrepreneurs are planning, finance and implementation.

  • Planning
    All entrepreneurs face the challenge of starting a new business, be it through innovation (inventing something new or doing something a different way), finding the right opportunity to get into, or buying a franchise. Whichever road you choose, it will involve serious planning.

  • Financing
    Unless you have ready funds at your disposal, getting finance is the next major challenge and cannot be attempted until your business plan is in place. You will need to prepare funding proposals and applications for loans, venture capital, and funds from angel investors.

  • Implementation
    This is make or break time. Many people think just getting started is the hard part - and it is hard. But where many businesses stumble is not in the planning and financing stages but in implementing their business plan. Why this is so is not certain. There are various hypotheses including the idea that ideas people and implementation people are two very different breeds and it is highly unusual to find one person who can do both. More likely though, is the simple fact that implementation requires such a broad range of skills that no one person can possibly be adept at all of them.

    The real challenge and skill of the entrepreneur, then, is to recognize what you do well and then appoint employees or subcontractors to do the rest. Of course, if you're running a business on a shoestring, this simply may not be possible! So be brutally honest and objective in assessing your particular strengths and weaknesses BEFORE you cash in your day job and your 401K.

    The areas to think about in terms of implementation are the same as those encompassed by a broad definition of management: promotion (marketing and advertising), public relations, sales, employees, communications, legal issues, plant and equipment, risk management, disaster planning, crisis management, insurance, technology, computer systems, taxes, bookkeeping, finance, and the internet.

    Next: Do you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur - part 2

  • Personal Qualities
  • The Future of Entreneurship

    About the Author: Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical ideas, resources and strategies for your home-based or online business. www.ahbbo.com

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