entrepreneur is someone “who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” It’s derived from the French word entreprendre, which means “to undertake.” In modern day terms, an entrepreneur most often refers to a businessperson or a go-getter that builds a successful business from scratch.

With the expansive internet, interconnecting realm of social media, and endless opportunities for both location-dependent and -independent businesses, now is the perfect time to become an entrepreneur! And no age is too young. Kindergartners open up shop and so do those with graying hair. Inspire your kids to follow their dreams by reading stories of young people who are successful entrepreneurs!

So what does it take to be an entrepreneur? What are the qualities needed to thrive while starting a business? How does one actually become an entrepreneur, especially if you’re not an adult yet?

The Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

Creativity and innovation. In order to start a business, you must have an idea. And in order to form a noteworthy business plan, you must be creative and innovative.

Don’t contain your thoughts in a box. Open up your mind and allow all ideas, no matter how crazy or tame, to remain on the table! This is the time for brainstorming; the moment for refining will come later.

What is something that would help make your day easier? What could improve your relationships? What is something you dream about doing or having? What have you suggested as a stupid joke that could actually be really cool? (Like my husband mentioning that there should be a Justin Bieber snuggie…it sounds ridiculous but would have been a huge, popular, profitable invention!) Those sorts of inspiring questions foster your creativity, keep all ideas as a possibility, and lead to forward innovation.

Curiosity, problem solving skills and empathy. Now that everything is open to you (because no idea is a stupid idea), you can let your creative juices flow. Be curious about the world around you. Observe people’s actions. Note their desires. See what problems people face. Then think of ways to help solve those problems.

Really, the definition of an entrepreneur should be more like “one who creates a product or service (a business) that solves the problems of others.” When you are empathetic and understanding of others, you will better be able to create your business to satisfy them, your potential clients!

Oh and by the way, you should probably bring along a towel and notebook…the towel to mop up the dripping creative juices and a notebook to write down all of your brilliant observations and problem-solving ideas!

Believe in yourself and your ideas, and maintain optimism. You took the time to be creative and curious. You observed others and brainstormed an endless list of ideas. You did your homework, so allow yourself to be proud!

Reflect back on where your started and look how far you’ve already journeyed toward entrepreneurship! As you look forward, hold an optimistic view. You can’t predict what will happen, but you can control your response – choose optimism and confidence!

Know how to set goals, make an action plan, and meet (or exceed) those goals. This is a super important life skill, but a non-negotiable quality in an entrepreneur! Your business plan is essentially a list of goals. You intentionally decide on goals, make particular plans of action, and ultimately desire to start your own business. That means you must make your plan and stick to it!

Have trouble in this area? Set a small personal goal, such as taking a 10 minute walk everyday, or reading one chapter in a book while you eat breakfast, or listing 3 things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. If you can set and meet small goals, then you’re on the right track for setting larger goals and meeting (or hopefully exceed) them too!

Know how to communicate. Are you able to have decent conversations in person? Over the phone? Via email? Through social media? By printed content? Every business requires communicating with people: co-workers, investors, potential clients, current customers, etc.

Enroll in a communications course at your local university, shadow someone who does a lot of communicating (such as a city official or news anchor), or join Toastmasters International.

Resilience. If you make a decision and it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. When you get knocked down, just get back up again! Resilience is all about facing trials, quickly overcoming them by adequately working through them, and coping with those hardships in a healthy manner.

Jump in headfirst after a setback or failure by allowing yourself to feel your emotions. Appropriately cope with those feelings by expressing them. Because stuffing your emotions right now doesn’t mean that they won’t resurface later. Then make a plan and jump back in!

Be a hard worker yet allow yourself to fail. Know in advance that an entrepreneur contributes endless hours into their business. Sometimes it becomes consuming, all you can think or feel or do. However, your time and efforts really will pay off when your business morphs into a success.

But first there may be a few failures. And that’s perfectly normal. Allow yourself to fail often and fail early. Each time you do, you’ll further refine your business. Gold must be put through fire in order to burn out it’s impurities; your business may go through the fire too. Just don’t forget that failure is a good thing – it removes the “impurities” and refines your business plan!

Don’t give up; keep then end goal in sight. Find mentors or accountability partners to walk down the road of entrepreneurship by your side.

Know the path before you. Do you know what the path of an entrepreneur actually looks like? Here’s a basic idea of how you can become an entrepreneur!

How To Actually Become A Successful Entrepreneur

1. Consider your business knowledge, skills, and entrepreneurial goals.

·What sort of basic business information do you know? Enroll in an introductory business course, grab a basic business book, or do some research online.

·Think about your business experience. Maybe you could shadow a successful business person or interview a few different ones.

·What are your goals as an entrepreneur? What do you want your days to look like now, in 1 year, 5 years, etc.? Do you want a physical business or a virtual one? Will you work alone or with a team?

2. Select your business idea.

·Brainstorm your brilliant ideas. Nothing is off the table!

·Narrow your list to the ones you are passionate about and could actually envision yourself doing.

·Does this product or service currently exist? Is there a demand for it? Are people willing to pay money for your product/service?

·Determine your target audience.

·What are you limitations or drawbacks?

3. Check out your competitors.

·Research and identify your competitors. Search online with specific keywords – the top results have the highest rankings in that industry and will be your top adversaries. Industry magazines and trade publications can show you who the largest local or international companies.

·Attend industry events, because that is where all of the most popular people in your industry will go.

·Check consumer reviews and social media and advertising.

·Observe how they operate their business – especially their strengths and failures (because you can succeed where they fail!).

4. Craft your business plan.

·Further refine your idea by setting short, mid, and long-term goals. Make sure that your plan is actionable.

·Define your business structure, details of your product or service and customer demographics.

·Make a marketing plan. How will you attract, gain, and keep customers?

·Define who will manage what areas of the business. Will you work alone? Do you have a partner or investors? Will you hire a team?

·Make a realistic financial investment and profit goals. Don’t forget to assess potential risks.

5. Network with others and find a mentor/accountability partner.

·Get to know others in the industry who are thriving, or someone who is running a successful business that you admire. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice, wisdom, or to walk alongside you during your start up.

·Find a mentor who can coach you through this adventure. And/or connect with an accountability partner who will keep you on track and make sure you’re doing what you have committed to in order to reach your target goals.

6. Open up your business and be amazed.

·Chart your growth as your sales, profits, and popularity grow.

·Don’t be disappointed by the failures. Remember that they are refining you!

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

What amazing ideas are floating through your mind or racing across your dreams? Take your grand ideas and do something with them. You have the ability to solve people’s problems and invest in your future. What are you waiting for?!