1. You don’t like to work hard.
Entrepreneurship is about hard work. It’s about facing indecision, insecurity, instability and borderline insanity.
There’s nothing really pleasant about that. Ironic as it seems, there’s a certain satisfaction in hard work. Humans are made for hard work, and hard work has its own reward.
It’s cliche to say “work smart, not hard.” But here’s the rude reality: You must work smart and hard. Entrepreneurship isn’t a bag of smart tricks. It’s smart tricks combined with heart-pounding hard work.
If you’re not into the whole hard-work thing — rewarding as it is — then the entrepreneurial life is not for you.
2. You prefer following orders.
The world is made of followers and leaders. Which one are you?
If you’re committed to being a comfortable order-taker the rest of your life, perhaps entrepreneurship is not for you. If, on the other hand, you feel a twitch of desire to make some decisions and give some orders, that may be the spark of entrepreneurship.
3. You prefer working to fulfill someone else’s dream.
You may be content to pour your life and hard work into someone else’s dream. And that’s fine. Many people find true fulfillment in this pursuit. Parents, for example, are motivated by a desire to help their children achieve their dreams. Teachers give their lives to motivating and prospering a generation of students. Nonprofits exist to rekindle dying dreams.
It’s not wrong to nurture someone else’s dream. But if you have your own dreams, perhaps you should stop working to fulfill someone else’s.
4. You get along great with everyone in your life.
Take a quick survey of all your human relationships. Any interpersonal problems? A breakup? A shouting match? An argument?
No? None? Okay, that’s settled. You’re probably not an entrepreneur.
As it turns out, entrepreneurs aren’t the wide-grinning, back-slapping, glad-handing socialites they may seem to be. Entrepreneurs tend toward the outer fringe of social behavior and cultural norms. Fortune magazine featured this bit of insight:
Want to find the future entrepreneurs in a room full of teenagers? Look for the boys who like to break a rule from time to time.
This makes sense when you realize that entrepreneurs are the ones who disrupt industries, chafe against the status quo and spark a good revolution.
So, if you’re sometimes labelled as a nerd or geek, or boring, or rude, don’t sweat it. Instead, go do what you were meant to do — start a business or two.
5. You see everything in the world as being just fine.
Pushing the pessimistic or optimistic dichotomy aside for just a moment, how do you view the world around you? Is everything fine, or are there a few things that could use improving? Your perspective is a marker of your entrepreneurship tendencies. Entrepreneurs see things that need fixing. They see trends that need changing. They see a world that’s not yet perfect.
Elon Musk was someone who wanted to fix the world. He wasn’t content with online payment methods. That’s why he launched PayPal. He wasn’t content with the slump of space exploration. He started SpaceX. He saw a problem with the reliance on traditional methods of energy. Say hello to SolarCity, Tesla Energy, Hyperloop and Tesla Motors.
Look at the world. What do you see? No changes needed? If that’s the case, you probably don’t see a pressing need to start a business.
But if you see problems that need solving, and solutions that need inventing, consider entrepreneurship your calling.
6. You feel very mainstream. (And you love it.)
Entrepreneurship is counter-cultural, because contemporary society tends to discourage risk taking. We conflate protection with progress. The cultural “we” smiles approvingly at closed environments, safe decisions, sound investments, risk-free assets and cups that don’t spill hot coffee on us.
Those are all fine things. But in moments of brutal honesty, we realize that some of life’s risk is necessary and good. The mainstream obsession with safety and security tends to denude life of its natural and healthy risk.
The person who floats contentedly in the current of mainstream culture is, perhaps, not the choicest person for entrepreneurial pursuits. Apple’s “Think Different” commercials famously commented:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Those words inspire entrepreneurs. But the not-so-entrepreneurial among us hardly warrant a second glance.