Entrepreneurship means different things to different people. Some imagine tech geniuses with Silicon Valley startups, while others picture small business owners opening up their shop doors on Main Street. Ultimately, entrepreneurship encompasses these and many other business ventures that share a commitment to turning an idea into a profitable business.
People who are thinking about starting their own business should understand that successful entrepreneurship involves much more than having a great concept, said Elizabeth Amini, CEO and co-founder of Anti-Aging Games LLC, a company that develops online games to train memory and focus, and an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
"Most people think being an entrepreneur is all about coming up with an idea, but that's just one part," Amini told Business News Daily. "It's also important to know, right from the start, how you will reach interested customers in an effective and affordable way."
"Entrepreneurship is much broader than the creation of a new business venture," added Bruce Bachenheimer, a clinical professor of management and executive director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University. "At its core, it is a mind-set — a way of thinking and acting. It is about imagining new ways to solve problems and create value." [See Related Story: Entrepreneurship Defined: What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur]
Who are entrepreneurs?
There are no specific traits that every entrepreneur shares, but many do possess a few common characteristics. In another Business News Daily article, Jenny Ta, founder and CEO of social commerce platform Sqeeqee, said successful entrepreneurs are typically confident and self-motivated. They are tenacious but understand their own limitations. Instead of following the status quo, entrepreneurs have a healthy disrespect for established rules, and often set out to do things that others may not have the courage to. They are also willing to fail and start over again, taking the lessons they've learned to create something new and improved.
MJ Gottlieb, co-founder of consulting firm Hustle Branding and author of "How to Ruin a Business Without Really Trying" (Morgan James Publishing, 2014), said it takes a special kind of person to become a successful entrepreneur.
"An entrepreneur is someone who can take any idea, whether it be a product and/or service, and have the skill set, will and courage to take extreme risk to do whatever it takes to turn that concept into reality and not only bring it to market, but make it a viable product and/or service that people want or need," Gottlieb said.
Research shows that Americans are increasingly choosing entrepreneurship. A study by Intelligent Office revealed that nearly 65 percent of workers would rather be an entrepreneur or independent employee than work in an office. In addition, data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation's Index of Entrepreneurial Activity shows that in 2015, established small business density increased in the U.S., reaching higher than prerecession levels.
Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs
If you're ready to enter the world of entrepreneurship, here are a few important tips to keep in mind.
Learn from others' failures. Rather than admiring the small percentage of businesses that grow to become successful, study those that end up failing. Gottlieb said this research will greatly increase your chances of success, because most companies have made common mistakes that have led to their demise. He said that having the humility to learn from the mistakes of others before making them yourself is the secret to success.
Make sure this is what you want. Because entrepreneurship entails so much hard work, it is critical to ensure you're following the right path, Amini said. "If this is something you really want, then think long-term, and be persistent," she said. "The vast majority of great entrepreneurs failed multiple times before they finally found the business idea that took off and brought them success."
Solve problems. Entrepreneurs should always be in search of problems to solve, and not the other way around, said Ajay Bam, a lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business. In other words, "they should not start with a solution looking for a problem," he said.
Be passionate. Successful entrepreneurs are driven primarily by a need for achievement and the desire to make a meaningful difference, Bachenheimer said. "The most important traits are passion and persistence, but these must not be confused with arrogance and stubbornness," he said.
Get advice from those who have done it. Amini advised would-be business owners to find mentors who are successful, as well as to read books, network with people they admire and look into great educational programs to help them throughout the process.
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.