Do You Have the Right Stuff to Be an Entrepreneur?

What does it take to be successful starting a business? While there´s no such thing as the perfect entrepreneur -- even Bill Gates has made mistakes -- a number of personal qualities can help you to build a successful business. If you pass muster on most of these traits, you´re off and running.

  • You can delegate. No matter how smart and energetic you are, it´s a mistake to try to attend to every detail yourself. Unless you´re a solo act, you´re going to have to trust employees to do their jobs so that you can run the business.

  • You are a teacher. In order to delegate successfully, you will need people with appropriate skills -- and they may have to learn some of those skills from you.

  • You are self-motivated. As a small business owner, you won´t have a boss to tell you when to get to work. If that´s a problem, keep your day job.

  • You can work with numbers. You will spend a fair amount of time keeping track of money -- expenses, revenues, taxes and the like. A math phobia won´t help.

  • You don´t mind making mistakes. You will make them; the trick is to learn from them and move on. Not everyone finds that easy to do.

  • You like to work. Contrary to myth, you don´t need to be a workaholic to start a successful business. Many entrepreneurs find that it makes more sense to establish a reasonable working pace -- one that lets them strike a balance between work and their personal lives. That said, don´t start a business unless you enjoy work. There´s going to be plenty of it.

  • You don´t mind selling. You´ll have to sell products to customers, of course. You may also need to sell lenders or other financial backers on the prospects of your company. And you´ll need to convince potential employees to accept jobs with your firm rather than go to work for the competition.

  • You don´t quit easily. You´ll encounter obstacles that might stymie some individuals. You´ll have more success if you are the type of person who relishes such challenges. A dash of optimism helps; it will help you handle the uncertainty that is part of every venture.