It's a long word, entrepreneur, and it can be a bit intimidating, conjuring images of outgoing people who seem to always know where the next big thing in business is coming from. However, there are qualities to the entrepreneur that are in many of us, and you can find your inner entrepreneur and work toward a more satisfying career, whether you choose to work in a traditional format or open your own business.
Develop Your Inner Entrepreneur
Many qualities of the entrepreneur can be learned and developed. The spirit that drives successful businesswomen is sometimes an innate thing, and this shouldn't be disqualified. However, this spirit, when combined with personal drive and common sense business applications can lead to great things. You can encourage your inner entrepreneur and learn the tools.
What makes an entrepreneur? While there is no set list, the following qualities tend to be common among those who “have what it takes. "
- The ability to set clear, measurable goals
- The ability to seek out information and resources to reach your goals
- Leadership qualities
- A competitive spirit
- An idea or better way to do things
- Experience or knowledge of your specialty (niche)
- The willingness to do what it takes to succeed
All of these traits can be learned or developed. Sometimes simply knowing what you want is enough to kick your motivation and entrepreneurial spirit into gear. This is where determining and setting goals can be very useful. If you haven't done so recently, take the time to work on your goals. Read a book, enroll in a seminar, or simply sit down with a pen and paper (or keyboard and monitor). Successful entrepreneurs have a strong sense of direction.
Once you know where you want to go, you can figure out what you need to get there. This may be answered easily or it may require some research. If you need help determining how and where to get information, consider using local and industry-specific organizations. The local chamber of commerce or women in business organizations can provide a wealth of information. Join organizations specific to your industry as well. These organizations are often worth the cost of membership.
Organizations are also a great way to practice leadership skills, such as making presentations, volunteering and leading committees, and networking. If you're not comfortable with or do not have many opportunities to practice your leadership skills, organizations can be a great way to begin and there's often less pressure, which can make it easier. You may feel much more comfortable asking people to support a good cause financially before you start meeting with venture capitalists to fund your new product line.
To help with motivation and your overall business drive, consider listening to motivational tapes and attending seminars and conferences. Sure, some of these are filled with a lot of hype and little applicable information-but many others have some good, solid advice. Do some research, use the library, and ask others for suggestions.
Keep an ongoing journal or file of ways to improve the way you pitch a product or provide a service. Observe and research your competition. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? How can you do it better? Write it all down, even if it seems like an idea you'll be sure to remember, as those are often the ones that slip our minds.
If you want to have the entrepreneurial spirit, observe and model other entrepreneurs. Talk with them, learn how they think, and start acting and talking that way yourself. Develop your entrepreneurial skills, and before you know it, you'll be mentoring the next up-and-coming businesswoman yourself.
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Roxanne Batson is Managing Partner of WomenCorp.