If you’re reading this, you’re probably asking yourself, “Am I an entrepreneur?” But answering that question is harder than it may seem.
Being an entrepreneur is more than starting a company. It’s a lifestyle and a mindset, and not everyone has what it takes.
To help you find out if you’re an entrepreneur and sort through the many definitions of “entrepreneurship,” we talked to researchers, professors, startups, and students at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to see what entrepreneurship meant to them. Here are the qualities they said you should see in yourself if you want to be an entrepreneur:
1. You are Human
Yes, you’re an entrepreneur, whether you know it or not, according to Muhammand Yunus, a world-renowned social entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He uses a definition of entrepreneurship favored by Heidi Herrick, a professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the Eccles School.
“All human beings are entrepreneurs,” he wrote. “When we were in the caves we were all self-employed … finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. … As civilization came we suppressed it. … We forgot that at our core we are all entrepreneurs.”
The faculty at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute also define “entrepreneurship” broadly.
“We have a different, expansive view of an entrepreneur,” said Troy D’ Ambrosio, executive director of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. “An entrepreneur is somebody who’s creative, somebody who’s having impact, somebody who’s working on a team. … They’re not spectators. They’re engaged. Entrepreneurs are people who do things and have impact and go change the world.”
2. You have Purpose
How are you personally going to make this world a better place for humanity?
“An entrepreneur sees a way the world could be improved and dedicates energy and efforts to the realization of that potential,” said Kyle Poulin, CEO of True Adherence.
Really give some thought to your purpose in life, write it down, and get it engraved in your mind. Figuring out your purpose in life early on will help you as you seek to solve gaps, are faced with adversity, and will ultimately help solidify the “entrepreneurial mindset.”
“An entrepreneur is someone who sees a gap in anything that is out there in the world whether it be government, product, marketing, healthcare, etc., and they look for new and inventive ways to fill that gap,” said Joseph Arrington, co-founder of Beacon Sleep Solutions. “The spirit of entrepreneurship is facing adversity, being loyal to the cause and not backing down.”
3. You Embrace Fear
For most entrepreneurs, the true competition is ultimately yourself. Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily measure their personal success by external validation, but they do so internally. The fear of being ordinary will be just enough to fuel your hustle.
Embrace the risks, and face your fear of failure. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed miserably, but also in their failure they found success. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and J.K Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter books, faced adversity and failed numerous times, but they achieved great success.
Julia Perry, founder of Wyetta, shared a similar definition of an entrepreneur: “An entrepreneur solves problems and assumes the risk and starts a business to make the world a better place.”
4. You have a Support System
Becoming an entrepreneur takes a lot of you, it takes your time, and energy. Practicing entrepreneurship also requires a healthy and adaptive support system from everyone you surround yourself with whether that be your startup team, mentor, family and friends. Individuals you surround yourself with can help you fuel your fire and look at things in a different way.
“Entrepreneurship is a long-term commitment toward a creative approach on economy creation,” said Tara Spalding, founder of Hen House Ventures. “It comprises of dedication, persistence and problem-solving skills, requiring a healthy and adaptive support system to pursue and implement the business.”
5. You are a Doer
“At the Eccles School, entrepreneurship is a verb. The best way to learn is by doing it,” D’Ambrosio said.
It’s one thing to have an idea, but it’s another to actually do something about it. You’re an entrepreneur if you have an idea and work on it whether it fails or succeeds.
D’Ambrosio encouraged interested students to practice entrepreneurship at the Eccles School and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to help them with your startup or to develop your entrepreneurial mindset. “If you have a great idea and are willing to do what it takes to develop it, this is for you,” he said. “Come and entrepreneur with us.”
Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business wants every student to be a doer. He said, “We challenge every student to get involved with entrepreneurship to apply what they are learning in class, develop grit, and create their own futures.”