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Could You Be an Entrepreneur?

This article was written by in Career and Work. 14 comments.


Somehow over the past several years, I’ve been increasingly finding myself in the position of an entrepreneur. Throughout my life, I have been a bit of a self-starter with the ability to inspire others to join my causes, whatever they may be. I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur, however. I never thought I’d be using my creative tendencies to run and manage a business.

Frankly, I’m not very good at it. I’m quite disorganized, and competing priorities always seem to be problems. And if my history of dead-end projects is any indication, while I may be a self-starter, I’m not always a self-finisher. To me, “entrepreneur” was a bad word, signaling a person whose specialty was business rather than the industry in which the business falls.

Nevertheless, here I am, an accidental entrepreneur running and trying to manage a successful business. I don’t admire many entrepreneurs, but I am a fan of Aaron Patzer — at least what I know of him from his public persona and our interviews on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast. Aaron created the popular web-based personal finance management and budgeting software Mint.com, which was recently purchased by software behemoth Intuit, the makers of Quicken.

This entrepreneur is a lecturer with The Founder Institute, a membership organization designed to support budding business-starters. He also recently wrote an article for CNN describing how the institute developed a test that can supposedly predict the success rate of an individual as an entrepreneur. The test is based on research that indicates that success is not correlated to traditional metrics like IQ, teamwork, and planning. Instead, the best entrepreneurs tend to be spontaneous, appreciative of aesthetics, passionate about art and literature, and older.

Read the article here or sign up to take the quiz that will predict your success as an entrepreneur.

Not everyone is destined to succeed as an entrepreneur, and that’s not a bad thing. A lot of people — and the programs they offer for sale — tend to treat entrepreneurship as the Holy Grail of personal finance or wealth-building, with complete control of your own financial destiny and the ability to create wealth rather quickly compared to buying and holding stocks for decades in order to become “rich.” But this lifestyle is not for everyone, and not everyone is interested in taking the entrepreneur’s path.

What are your thoughts on entrepreneurs?

Updated March 21, 2011 and originally published July 29, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Investor Junkie

Speaking as a business owner/entrepreneur for 10 years now, it’s not an easy path. Far from it! Are there times I wanted to quit? Absolutely! I’ve had issues with cash flow, customers lie to me, failed partnerships, I’ve had major bouts of stress, and sleepless nights. In the end though I am following my destiny, I’ve grown so much over the past 10 years compared to if I had been working for someone else. There are things that I would have considered risky or hard before owning a business, that now don’t even think about it.

No, not everyone has the personality, persistance, know-how, or stamina to own/run a business. I definitely takes a certain type of person.

At least from my personal standpoint, I don’t think now is as great of time to start a new business, compared to 10 years ago (after the dot com bubble and in fact my biz is tech based). There are so many new taxes, regulations and compliance that’s starting to make my head spin. If I were starting a new business now I would be more hesitant. Though ironically I am starting a new business. I must be stupid or something ;-)

Flexo,

If you are thinking about doing it full-time, there is the saying “shit of get off the pot”. The question you have to ask yourself is, when I’m old would I regret not doing this? In 1999, the answer was easy even though I was working for a startup that was growing like gang busters and was soon going public. But I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy because I didn’t feel like I was growing. In the end that company had a great successful IPO (in fact one of the highest in 1999), only 3 years later to become a bankrupt and worthless stock.

Like the Nike slogan says, “Just Do It!”

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avatar Financial Samurai

Persistence is the key word in your large comment.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

I think if I look back, I won’t regret taking it slowly and ensuring I am somewhat certain progress is sustainable. And, as I’ve said before, as long as I can manage two full-time jobs, I’ll do it, even if each may be to the slight detriment of the other.

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avatar Investor Junkie

That’s fine you have to answer to yourself. I assume detrimemt is to your “real” job? :-)

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avatar Monevator

Flexo,

Firstly, you are an entrepreneur. Your blog brings in c. $10K a month, and whether you do it full-time or not that’s an entrepreneurial success. (Not to speak against IJ’s challenge… an unrelated observation).

Interesting list of traits that make a successful entrepreneur. I’m interested in ‘older’…because I’m not getting any younger! I’m also very interested in aesthetics, are and literature – a trivial example of the first is the extent that I don’t clutter my blog sidebar, without any buttons or categories or anything else. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder).

I’ve been self-employed for most of the past 15 years, which is sort of entrepreneurial but mainly self-focused. I did start a company five years ago, with friends, which I stuck with for 2-3 years before we had a departing of ways (as business partners and of strategies, not as friends, I’m happy to say).

The thing I learned is that start-ups are massively, massively about people and managing/inspiring/sweating/consoling them. However you manage to do it, you’ve got to do it.

The other thing is that it helps to be ultra-positive in your everyday speech. I think it’s fine to be pessimistic – I am, in fact – but too much negative talk brings a team down. My natural response to things is black humour (hey, I’m a Brit!) and it can really rub some people up the wrong way under pressure.

On the other hand, anyone at the start-up would tell you they definitely and economically missed my realism when I left.

It takes luck, too. And mad work unless you’re *really* lucky.

Glad I tried and would again, but it’s a toughie with a big opportunity cost.

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avatar Jenna

When I was younger I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but as I’ve started to grow up I realized I really like freelance more. I think it has something to do with a better sense of stability and with lower risks. Although being able to create something you are totally passionate about would be awesome too, especially if it makes you a lot of money.

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avatar Donna Freedman

Like Jenna, I’m a freelancer but I consider it neither stable nor without risks. If people stopped buying my writing, I’d be looking for a cubicle in a hurry.
For now, it suits me. I guess I’m an entrepreneur. Sometimes I wish I weren’t. There’s nobody to go out for doughnuts or to blame for problems. Just me.

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avatar Financial Samurai

Flexo, I think at over 7-8k/month in online revenue, you’re doing great. Maybe you can sell your site for $200,000 and start another one?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

It’s all relative. I won’t be selling in the near future; I still have big plans for Consumerism Commentary, and I’m pretty sure that if I do sell, it will not be until it’s worth much more to a buyer than it is to me. Many of the personal finance blogs out there, big and small, have already been sold to major buyers, and most haven’t disclosed that yet. I’ve been approached with some eyebrow-raising offers, and I know the site’s current valuation in the market, but I’m remaining independent.

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avatar Financial Samurai

I wonder who’s buying everything?

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avatar Kyle

The Money Crashers are on a tear. Paying well above-average valuations too, from what I hear.

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avatar Jackie

Off to take the quiz, but I think that people are basically born entrepreneurs or not. I don’t think it’s something you decide to “become”. However I think lots of people could be successful at business :)

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avatar H Lee D

I disagree with Jackie — people grow and change over their lives and do things they never would have thought they would do. Being an entrepreneur is one of those countless possibilities.

I will let you know my take on it in another year. I recently opened a fitness center in my house. I cut my day job to half time, so I still have some guaranteed income while I’m getting up and going. If it works out well, I’ll actually keep both, as I am getting full health benefits through my employer which, as a cancer survivor, would be massively expensive on my own.

In the mean time, it’s been a lot of work without a lot of payoff, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I’m getting great feedback from my clients. I got some PR advice from someone who knows what she’s doing and will be engaging in my second major wave of marketing in the next two weeks. We’ll see…

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avatar Cruxman ♦331 (Nickel)

Freelance work for me. I am not the entrepreneur type. I would love to be a freelance wed designer and freelance game journalist.

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