When I say the word entrepreneur who do you think of?  Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, Gina Reinhardt, Janine Ellis?  The problem with thinking about these famous women is that we don’t necessarily align ourselves with being an entrepreneur of that scale of wealth.Whilst you may not feel like earning a billion is on the cards this year, what you can do is examine the traits that enabled such success.  Once these are identified in yourself, you will see your capabilities as an entrepreneur are not unattainable, but in fact sitting dormant ready to be empowered and utilised.

So, are you an entrepreneur without even realising?  I admit to not giving much thought to the things I have attempted and achieved in my life.  For years I had been too busy doing things to spend time reflecting on them.  But reflection is an important part of understanding yourself, what makes you happy and realising who you really are.  So my reflection began.

I was cleaning out my office last night (one of my goals is to have a beautifully organised office) and I came across a stack of certificates and awards.  All mine, from a lifetime of giving things a go.  It got me thinking.  Where did this come from?  Growing up I remember rearranging my bedroom and painting my walls (I couldn’t believe my parents let me do that, but thanks), I spent hours drawing floor plans in a scrapbook.  That turned into wandering around display homes when I was 18 and old enough to drive myself to them.  Reflecting now, I realise I have also renovated every home I have lived in, from cosmetic changes to major extensions.  Interest in this area has really always been there.

So what about business?  I always thought that I ended up working in accounts and administration as a product of not knowing what I wanted to do.  I just did what I seemed to be good at.  It didn’t come from a burning desire.  I was living like I thought I was supposed to until my real passion was realised.  My education and experience helped me become a problem solver and leader.  I was lucky that I never thought about work as being something I didn’t want to do.  I was around amazing people and so I didn’t have days where I thought “Urgh, I have to go to work today”.

When I was younger I created income streams for myself, running my own little businesses – mowing lawns, cutting hair, babysitting.  I learned the art of negotiation, marketing, sales and customer service, but it was on such a small scale I didn’t think of it in terms of being entrepreneurial or even being in business.  

When I look at the connections between these things, this is what I can deduce.  Drawing floor plans was both creative and structured.  Working to earn money using skills I learned to cut hair, mow lawns, and babysitting was a mix of things I enjoyed in tandem with a determination to finance myself.  I was always in leadership roles, even in primary school, which identified my ability to rally people together for a common cause.  The Navy was a highly structured organisation, as you would expect.  Yet true creativity is a vital trait for military personnel who are successful.  You must be able to adapt, call on regulations, and bend them so that you can achieve the desired end result.  You need an overarching vision so that you can understand the importance of your part in it.  The Navy also provided me with a never ending stream of varied tasks, projects and initiatives to implement.

Are you able to look back through your life and identify the seemingly inconsequential things you do to see if you are an entrepreneur without even realising it?

Let’s take a look at some of the key traits or signs that you are in fact an entrepreneur.

Signs you could be an entrepreneur – 

You show initiative

To be an entrepreneur you will be constantly striving towards your latest passion.  You have the drive to see things achieved and don’t let things stand in your way.  You don’t watch the clock because you are so focused on your work you lose track of time.

You have great passion

When your idea takes hold, nothing shakes it free.  Idealism plays a big part of your passion to see a project through – even when everyone tells you it won’t work.  Your passion doesn’t have to be exuberant, but it is consistent.

No is not an acceptable answer

You don’t take no for an answer – not ever.  You don’t give up on your ideas because you see their true value, even when others don’t.  No is just a roadblock to be knocked down or skirted past.  In fact, being told no just makes you more determined because this means you need to apply more creative thinking.  No can be an exciting challenge for you.  You have an inner strength that you use to face challenges with inspiring gusto.

You think creatively

It is an absolute necessity that an entrepreneur be a creative thinker.  You are inspired when your vision is forming and your creative thinking allows for fluid growth throughout the visionary lifecycle. Don’t think of yourself as creative? Who came up with your business idea? Or the plan to create a business out of it? You’re more creative than you think.

You love a challenge

If you aren’t up for a challenge then you are not cut out for life as an entrepreneur.  As an entrepreneur your life will be one challenge after another because of your creativity and passion to see things through.  Being challenged gives you an adrenaline rush because you will not be outdone.  You will see things through to the end despite anything that stands in your way.

You have an exceptional work ethic

Nobody will ever question your devotion to your work.  You aren’t checking in to see how many hours you have worked or what day of the week it is.  You will be working as much as is required to get things done.

You have great people skills

If you are an entrepreneur it doesn’t hurt to have the “gift of the gab”.  An ability to persuade people to work with you, to push harder, to open their wallets, to collaborate and cooperate is a gift for the true entrepreneur.  Being able to effectively communicate a vision enables others to understand what you are trying to achieve and ultimately help you achieve it.

Being an entrepreneur is risky business, but as entrepreneurs are willing to take on the challenge, this means that failure is a lesser fear for the entrepreneur than not trying at all. It doesn’t mean that fear of failure is not present, it means that the fear of failure is far outweighed by the passion driving the entrepreneur.

Did you identify yourself as an entrepreneur?  It can be an interesting journey to reflect on your behaviours and unrecognised drivers, until you see this list of traits.  I hope that in explaining my journey, you are able to see how I have taken seemingly random elements of my life and pulled them together to make sense of them and their meaning for my greater purpose.  

Why not try the Kauffman Fasttrac Entrepreneur Survey and see if you really are an entrepreneur without even realising it.  Don’t forget to let me know your results by emailing me at [email protected].