Often I meet people who tell me about their dreams to start their own business. They don’t want to work for the man all their lives. They ask me what it takes to start your own business.
It’s a difficult question to answer because there are so many elements to being an entrepreneur. First, you need to be passionate about something. It has to be in your core. For many immigrants, they are passionate about their children and providing an opportunity for the next generation that they themselves never had. That drives many to amazing accomplishments. For others, the passion is about green energy, mobile technology, global health issues, and so forth.
Entrepreneurs also need a good support network of family and friends because owning your own business is not easy. It’s extremely time-consuming and emotionally draining.
Another very important component is the right personality. An entrepreneur cannot be risk-averse. In the type of businesses I’ve been involved with, I hire many very bright individuals with great business ideas. Some of them want to start their own businesses, and I know they have the intelligence and skills to be successful entrepreneurs. Yet, they lack the personality to actually be entrepreneurs. They are too risk-averse. And that’s fine because they can have fulfilling and financially rewarding careers within the corporate environment.
One time, a friend who is successfully climbing up the partner latter of a prestiguous consultancy asked me about entrepreneurship. I could tell he was thinking about possibly doing something on his own. Then, one night while driving together he started to panic because the gas gauge needle had just started touching the red empty mark. I laughed, and told him that making partner at his firm is a fantastic goal for him.
Since then, I’ve used that example with others who ask me about entrepreneurship. And a few have smiled and admitted they would panic as well. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Unfortunately many find out after an unsuccessful venture. Just do the “am I comfortable running on empty test” first.