Imposter syndrome. Self doubt. The urge to give up. You’ve likely experienced these feelings at some point. If you’re lucky, you’re surrounded by people who affirm your talents at work. But what if you’re a company of one?
Natalie Gill started her fresh flower business from her apartment, relying on savings to bridge the gap after quitting her full-time job. She survived on little sleep and, at times, an $11 per week food budget. But she persevered through the toughest points of her journey to build Native Poppy, a successful multi-location retail business.
There’s no question Natalie is an entrepreneur today, but maybe she’s always merited that title. Entrepreneurial mindset is achievable even before you launch your own business. And it’s the first step on the way to success.
What makes a person an entrepreneur? Ahead, explore the meaning of entrepreneurship, what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, and how you can leverage your unique strengths to establish your own path to being a boss.
What is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is, by conventional definition, someone who starts and runs a business, maybe taking on financial or personal risk in the process. But this description of an entrepreneur ignores the more nuanced aspects—the passion, the grit, the desire to bring ideas to life, the drive to solve a problem.
Over time, the creator economy and the gig economy have helped to broaden the scope of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you’re assembling furniture, designing merch for a local band in your studio apartment, or monetizing your massive TikTok audience. Whatever the approach, you’re working for yourself and taking your future into your own hands.
The future of entrepreneurship
Small businesses struggled in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 3.3 million entrepreneurs in the US shutting their doors between February and April 2020. Yet entrepreneurship also offered a path for those looking to supplement loss of work, combat isolation or boredom, or react to opportunities created by changing consumer trends.
While business as a whole shrunk during this time, entrepreneurial spirit surged. And our definition of “entrepreneur” changed forever.
6 reasons to become an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is viewed by many as a preferable option to working for another company. While it often requires hard work, a certain amount of risk, and forgoing a steady paycheck, many find success in pursuing a passion or a world-changing idea.
1. Develop your skills
Entrepreneurs often start solo, meaning they manage every aspect of their business. Starting a business is a crash course in marketing, product development, customer service, web design, and more. The experiences in the first few months and years of running a business are priceless—and portable.
2. Build a business around a desired lifestyle
Business coach Nora Rahimian reminds her clients to build entrepreneurship around the life they want, rather than the other way around. One of the main benefits to starting a business is the flexibility it offers around working hours. “I can work at four in the morning. I take my dog to the park in the middle of the day. I can be responsive to what my brain needs from me,” she says.
Love to travel? Start a seasonal business that lets you take months off at a time. Have a family? Set your work hours around your kids’ baseball games and spring break.
3. Generate a sustainable income
The early stages of running a business may result in mixed success, but pushing through is a great way to build sustainable and a self-reliant income source long term. This is especially true for those slowly building a business on the side as they transition out of full-time work. Diversifying income is a central pillar of the FIRE movement, a popular saving and investing strategy for financial independence.
4. Be your own boss
Getting a seat at the table can be tough in a corporate environment, but as your own boss, you call the shots. Those with leadership skills and strong opinions thrive as heads of their own companies. Entrepreneurship gives you the freedom to build the company, products, and team culture you want.
5. Positively impact your community
Entrepreneurship drives job creation and economic growth in communities, and the success of one business can have a ripple effect to others in the area. Studies show that for every $100 spent at small retail businesses, $63 is circulated back into the local economy (versus $14 for multinational chains). Promoting economic development through running a successful business helps others achieve the same.
6. Promote social change
As consumer trends skew more and more toward support for sustainable business practices, small businesses are in a better position to get on the right side of history. Startups are nimble enough to make ethical and sustainable choices from the get-go. History shows that entrepreneurs create change because they are seen as leaders in their communities.
What are the personality traits of an entrepreneur?
While there are certain traits that are common to many successful entrepreneurs, no two are created equal. Every personality type demonstrates strength in specific areas, each with a unique superpower that defines how they run and think about their businesses.
Entrepreneur mindset is a combination of beliefs, knowledge, and a way of thinking that allows you to approach challenges, act on ideas, and balance risk. It can be achieved regardless of your innate strengths. Personal growth exercises and trial and error will help build your entrepreneur muscle.
🏆 Top entrepreneur traits include:
- Risk tolerance
- Self reliance
Other helpful traits for entrepreneurs include perseverance, versatility, ambition, critical thinking, and attention to detail. Chances are you possess some of these qualities. Lean into the ones that make you unique.
Maybe you’re risk averse but have excellent discipline and attention to detail—your strength will lie in building a steady business with a solid safety net. Or maybe you’re not overly disciplined or focused on detail but you’re bursting with passion and vision—you’d make a great leader, bringing on skilled partners attracted to your ideas and enthusiasm.
What kind of entrepreneur are you? 🌟 Take the quiz to determine your entrepreneur personality type and learn to leverage your specific strengths as you find that winning idea and launch your dream.
How do you become an entrepreneur?
Simple: just start. There’s no test to become an entrepreneur. No required degree or years of work experience. Many entrepreneurs forgo formal education, learning managerial skills and other essentials by trial and error. Focus on your best entrepreneur trait and take your small business idea to the streets.
First steps to starting a business
- Find—and validate—an idea
- Narrow in on your target audience
- Build a memorable brand
- Launch your business
- Drive traffic and sales through marketing
Read more 👉 How To Start a Business In 11 Steps
Best case scenario? You build a life on your terms. If you fail, you’ll dust yourself off and, armed with experience and thicker skin, try again.
Entrepreneurship ideas for aspiring founders
Many entrepreneurs get their start by transforming a hobby or interest into their own business. Others stumble upon new ideas. And some are just born with it—an entrepreneurial mindset that drives them to solve the particular challenges of business ownership.
Would-be entrepreneurs can approach small business ownership in a number of ways. Ahead are a few ideas to get started.
Jump at the opportunity to invent something new
Opportunities are everywhere. Many new businesses are born from an idea sprung from the chance to do something completely new or put a creative spin on a classic. Look for opportunities in your daily life. How can you solve a common problem? Can you develop a product to simplify a task? Is there an underserved audience in a particular market?
Start here 👉 7-Step Product Development Process Explained
Monetize your craft or passion
One of the most common inroads for aspiring entrepreneurs is focusing on what you do best, and building it slowly. You already understand the craft and the community that surrounds it—now turn it into a successful business venture. Consider how you might improve processes and scale handmade production. Think about the needs of your community and the problems you can solve.
Build an audience first, then become an entrepreneur
If you thrive in the company of people, start there. Use your natural people skills to build a following around your personal brand, grow an audience, and then monetize it. The growing creator economy has opportunities for charismatic young entrepreneurs to find niche audiences for content creation. Start a YouTube channel for craft tutorials, launch a comedy account on TikTok, or do beauty unboxings and reviews on Instagram. Monetize by selling merch or paid content to your loyal fans.
Entrepreneur spotlight: Cassey Ho
After moving across the country, Cassey Ho began filming workout videos to connect with her old students in California. Within months, her YouTube channel, Blogilates, started growing. Her new fans were demanding t-shirts and merch to support her channels.
After a few false starts and battling copycats, Cassey launched her DTC brand, POPFLEX, selling fitness gear and workout outfits directly to fans, and through an exclusive partnership with Target.
Become an entrepreneur with a better way of doing things
The pandemic created opportunities to build new businesses around changing needs. Disruptors like Uber and Slack emerged from the last recession. What recent events demand a new approach? How does the changing world present opportunities for a small business? Consider everyday items or processes and how you might evolve them to meet shifting consumer behavior.
Start here 👉 What Makes a Great Business Idea?
Build a business around a cause
If anything is going to tip you into the entrepreneurial pool, it’s your passion. Are there social or environmental causes that inspire you? There may be government programs or grants for a new business owner pursuing social entrepreneurship or launching sustainability initiatives.
Be inspired 👉Meet 9 Socially Responsible Companies Driving Change
Ready to start your own business?
What is an entrepreneur? It’s someone who makes the leap, takes a chance on a dream, and connects an innovative idea with a hungry audience. Could that someone be you? Successful entrepreneurs everywhere have started small businesses from a room in an apartment or with no startup money. Start small, think big. This is the first step in your entrepreneurial journey.
Feature image by Alice Mollon
Photos by Pexels
What is an entrepreneur FAQ
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur means thinking like an innovator, taking risks, and creating opportunities to launch and manage a business venture. An entrepreneur is someone who identifies a need in the market and sees a business opportunity that meets it. They are driven to create something that does not exist, develop a product or service to fill a gap, or build their own business from the ground up. Entrepreneurs assume financial risk to enjoy the creative freedom of self employment.
What are the 5 types of entrepreneurs?
While there are many ways to categorize business owners into personality types, Shopify’s framework sorts entrepreneurs into one of five groups: the growth-minded Mountaineer, the plucky Trailblazer, the always-be-prepared Cartographer, the risk-taking Firestarter, and the steady Outsider.
Understanding your entrepreneur persona can unlock the best ways to take your business idea to new markets and new heights. Take the quiz: What type of entrepreneur are you?
What are examples of famous entrepreneurs?
Some famous examples of successful entrepreneurs include: Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Daymond John, Marie Kondo, Sara Blakely, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban. These famous entrepreneurs are known for their financial and commercial success and for bringing innovative ideas to market.
What are the keys to becoming an entrepreneur?
Aspiring entrepreneurs can find success by challenging the status quo and bringing innovative products or services to new markets. Finding success with your own business means embracing risk-taking, rolling up your sleeves to get involved in day-to-day operations, and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn as you build a profitable business.