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Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur?

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Are you thinking of starting up your own business? Before you leap, ask yourself whether you are entrepreneur material. Because if you’re not, it can be a painful experience – around four out of every five small businesses started in South Africa fail within the first three years of operation.

There are certain personality traits that successful entrepreneurs tend to share, and that the 80% who fail don’t exhibit. To assess whether owning your own business is the right path for you, ask yourself these eight questions:

Question 1: Do you prefer to work alone, or with others?

If you chose the former, you might be suited to self-employed freelance work, but entrepreneurship may not be for you. In the long term, only teamwork is going to push your idea to the next level.

Question 2: Do you lose sleep over work-related problems?

Sleepless nights are par for the course when it comes to running your own business. The true entrepreneur will think about a problem or challenge until they find a satisfactory solution.

Question 3: Do you believe in putting your people or the company first?

The answer is simple: take care of your company, and you take care of the people. What your company employees need more than anything else – especially in those crucial first three sink-or-swim years – is a successful business that offers security.

Question 4: Do the tough decisions affect you?

Balance is key here. Successful entrepreneurs understand the enormous impact of decisions such as firing an employee or contractor, terminating a relationship with a bad client, and so on, but they make them in the best interests of the business and then move on to the next challenge.

Question 5: Are you happy to work evenings and weekends?

Being an entrepreneur is not a nine-to-five gig, particularly in the beginning. It involves early mornings, late finishes, working weekends and hardly any time off.

Question 6: Are you tough on others?

The answer here should be ‘tough but fair’, with a view to achieving the best possible results. You need to be able to distinguish between excusable, accidental failures that are genuinely out of anyone’s control, and when a change in attitude, approach or personal discipline could improve an employee’s performance.

Question 7: Do you scream and shout when things go wrong?

If you really want to get somewhere, you need to keep your emotions in check most of the time; a calm, proactive response when things go wrong solves problems much faster. Don’t expect to get results using the management-by-tantrum approach.

Question 8: Do you take care of yourself physically?

Being an entrepreneur takes energy, stamina, resilience and determination – all traits that can be honed while you keep yourself in shape. Plus, exercise is good for the brain.

Of course, there’s no guarantee on any of this, but if you answered these questions correctly, you may have the personality to become a successful entrepreneur. Once you’ve made that decision, here are some tips to effective entrepreneurship:

  • Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer
  • Learn from the best
  • Stay hungry and ambitious
  • Never stand still; evolve with the times
  • Nurture long-term business relationships
  • Inspire those around you
  • Trust your gut instinct, not just your spreadsheet

Focus on the big picture, get the wheels turning and don’t be bogged down by too much structure. Just get started – don’t look back, don’t look sideways and don’t let failure set you back.

Good luck!

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