How to know if you’re an entrepreneur

Naëmi Ansovald
Jun 11, 2019 · 7 min read

With the growing popularity in self-starting and going at it by yourself, the word entrepreneur is thrown around quite liberally. Everyone with an idea can, and do, call themselves an entrepreneur.

Is it really that simple though? Is the requirement of entrepreneurship having an idea of what might be? As a person with such an idea myself, I got curious. Do I qualify to bear the title of an entrepreneur?

This is what I found on how to know if you’re an entrepreneur.

How to know if you’re an entrepreneur

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur nowadays. It’s the new trend. Maybe it’s because of the growing popularity in self-starting and unconventional jobs. Maybe it’s because of the difficulties young adults face in the job market. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.

Entrepreneur and entrepreneurship are two of those words that we use because they sound good, but I feel not many understand. I certainly didn’t before I looked it up. I think we have an image of what we think an entrepreneur looks like, be it a guy in a suit or someone working on a beach.

But what actually is an entrepreneur? And how do you know if you are one?

What is an entrepreneur?

Starting at the beginning. To know if you’re an entrepreneur, you must know what an entrepreneur is. So, what is it?

Per definition, an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk”, according to Dictionary.com.

The term’s meaning can differ somewhat depending on fields, but the kind we’re talking about here is the self-starter, a person who takes risks for the change at the higher rewards.

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee, defines true entrepreneurship in this video as loving the process more than the rewards. Meaning that an entrepreneur doesn’t do what they do because of what they can get out of it, but for the process itself.

The potential fortunes to be made isn’t what drives an entrepreneur. If they wanted a big paycheck at the end of the month, they wouldn’t have started their own company. What drives an entrepreneur is the work, the challenges and seeing your visions become reality.

Entrepreneur vs business owner
If entrepreneurs start their own business, is an entrepreneur the same as a business owner?

No. A business owner is someone who owns a business, an entrepreneur is the person with the vision and drive to make that business happen. If they were to give the business up, later on, the new owner won’t have been the one who built it. They might be their own boss, but they didn’t create that job, the person who created the business did.

In other words, an entrepreneur can be a business owner, but not all business owners are entrepreneurs.

Signs of an entrepreneur

You started early
Meaning your first business idea didn’t come as an adult. This might be tricky to know, but try to think back to your childhood and remember if you ever tried staring any form of business, like a lemonade stand or garage sale.

In a piece from Forbes, Jules Schroeder writes that many of the successful entrepreneurs she’s talked to began hustling as children. Their entrepreneurial attributes and tendencies showed early on, and that way of thinking has always been there.

As Gary Vee says in this video about what it means to be an entrepreneur, he was already finding ways to make money as a kid.

To quote:

“1992. Running around the neighborhood ripping out flowers. Forcing my friends when they said “Let’s play basketball” to stand behind a lemonade stand. This wasn’t something I read about; it was always there.”

Most kids want to earn an extra buck or two, but few actually take the steps to make it happen, and even fewer will see all the opportunities available and try to act on them.

Gary’s point is that he wasn’t taught entrepreneurship, it came naturally to him. While you can’t expect a child to have the same levels of knowledge and skill as a full-fledged self-made CEO, some skills and ways of thinking can’t be taught.

Certainly, you learn as you grow, but that mindset, that drive that made Gary force his friends to sell lemonade and pick flowers wasn’t taught, and it might not be possible to learn.

In another video, appropriately named Entrepreneurship: Can’t Be Taught, Gary states that he doesn’t believe entrepreneurship can be taught, it’s something you’re born with. Hence, you should’ve had those qualities growing up.

You see opportunities everywhere
For an entrepreneur, a mistake is a lesson and an obstacle a resource in disguise.

I like how the author and CEO Jayson DeMers put it in his piece in Entrepreneur.

“Challenges are opportunities”

He explains that while most people would react negatively to a setback or hurdle, an entrepreneur will see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to grow and get a new perspective. As an entrepreneur, you understand that a challenge is just that — a challenge, and not the end of the world.

He also states that “Competitors are research subjects” and goes on by saying that to an entrepreneur the competition isn’t so much a threat as they are learning opportunities.

Your competitors are working in the same field as you do, so instead of worrying about them stealing potential customers, look at what they are doing and take notes. Especially if they’re further along than you are.

What works? What doesn’t? How can you utilize their mistakes and successes for your own benefit and capitalize off what they’ve already gone through? That’s what an entrepreneur is thinking.

You aren’t afraid to think big
Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to throw modesty aside and think big. For them, building a million-dollar company from scratch isn’t impossible, it’s their next project.

As Schroeder wrote in Forbes:

“Where a “rational” or “practical” mind might seek to avoid risk and play on a more manageable scale, the entrepreneurial mind sees grand potential.”

For you, your aim isn’t to work at a certain company, you want to own it. Why settle for practical when you can do exciting?

You rather die than have a normal job
How do you know if you’re an entrepreneur? You rather do anything than have a normal job.

In an article in Medium, Gary Vee wrote:

“If you’re a true entrepreneur, you can’t survive having a normal job.”

Let’s ask the question why do entrepreneurs do what they do? There are quicker, easier and more secure ways to live life and earn good money, so why bother with this self-starter ordeal? If 9 in 10 of start-ups fail, why take the risk?

Because somewhere it is worth it.

Gary is right. Entrepreneurs are smart people. They know the risks; they know the challenges and they know the work that needs to be put in for their plans to work. They know it isn’t a way to get rich quick, if it was, everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be rich.

Entrepreneurs do what they do because the risk of total failure is worth it to avoid the guaranteed life of mundanity that is the option. The thought of working for someone else, doing someone else’s work and bidding is more off-putting than the work and struggles that creating something of your own means.

You’re more excited about the work than the reward
I find this to be the easiest way to find out if you’re an entrepreneur or not.

As I’ve said, starting a business isn’t a good way to make easy money. No one in their right mind would choose a start-up over regular employment to earn quick cash.

As an entrepreneur, you are aware of the money that can be made (you’re not stupid after all) but what motivates you, what really gets you going, is the process of getting there. The golden pot at the end is just a bonus.

For you, the rewards you get isn’t the money you make, but the lessons you learn, the experiences you have and the people you end up meeting and helping. The profit you do make most likely will end up back in the business in one way or another.

That’s not to say every entrepreneur has to dress like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. It’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things. However, wanting those things wasn’t what got you into this.

If that’s your end goal, may I suggest accounting, or perhaps dentistry?

A true entrepreneur loves the work more than the rewards.

You’re willing to put in the work
Speaking of work, you’re willing to do it.

I don’t believe you have to know a certain set of skills or knowledge from the beginning. If we’re claiming entrepreneurs was born, not made, we can’t expect them to know everything from the start. Be it marketing, sales or economics, I find it difficult to expect children to be expert at it.

But I do believe that a true entrepreneur is willing to sit down and learn what’s necessary. Tying into loving the work, these people get out and accumulate as much information they can on everything they need to know. They are also aware that they can always improve and are constantly seeking out ways to do so.

These are life-long learners with a feeling of never being fully done.

And after they’ve learned what they need, they put it into practice. An entrepreneur doesn’t stop halfway. They learn what they must and do what they have to do.

You’re doing it
How to know if you’re an entrepreneur: you’re doing it.

Simply put, an entrepreneur doesn’t sit around complaining. They get up and make things happen.


So, are you an entrepreneur? Do you have the passion, the drive, and the courage? It’s okay if you don’t, not all people are entrepreneurs and that’s a good thing. We can’t all be.

I hoped this help straighten things out and helped you realize if you’re an entrepreneur or not. As I said, it’s a tricky term with many people giving it their own definition.

For all you true born entrepreneurs, I wish you good luck, great things are coming your way.

Now I want to hear from you! Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss something on this list? Let me know in the comments.

Feel free to share this with all the self-proclaimed entrepreneurs in your life.

First published June 10 on naemiansovald.com.

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