Greg Smith: How To Find Out If Entrepreneurship Is For You

“Who we really are deep down inside determines whether and when and how those shadows [and possibilities of our future] take shape and become solid….Too many wannabe entrepreneurs don’t spend enough time asking themselves if they’re really cut out for this.  Are they the kind of people, or are they capable of growing into the kind of people, who can survive owning their own company?…But what really determines your survival?  Your temperament and personality.  Deeper than that, your character” (p. 8).

“When starting a business, motivation without talent and a lot of other qualities will only breed frustration and futility.  What are those other qualities?…” (p. 9).

Here are some of my favorites from Gregory Smith’s The Alphabetical Entrepreneur.

Alphabetical Entrepreneur

  • Adaptable: “Successful entrepreneurs change the game, change tactics, change themselves, make a counter-intuitive move, find another direction at a right angle to where everyone else is being carried — and then swim like hell until they succeed.  Or the drown trying.  No, entrepreneurs aren’t flexible like Gumby.  They’re adaptable — like a cockroach” (p. 13).
  • Clever: “The entrepreneur ought to be ‘street smart.’ A clever business owner can to a lot farther with average creativity and a pedestrian vision than an imaginative genius without any street smarts….That’s why I think entrepreneurs who start running small businesses at the street level have an advantage.  People who go straight from college into an MBA program and then to work for a very large corporation and climb to upper-middle management have missed some important lessons in entrepreneurship, no matter how educated or creative they may be.  They never earned the shrewdness that comes from starting from the bottom….Being clever means being resourceful” (p. 21).
  • Decisive: “You are either a decisive individual or you aren’t.  If you aren’t, you need to figure out if you can become one….If you have to, then you’d better get started now or get out of the startup business” (p. 30).
  • Energetic: “[Being] your own boss gives you the freedom to manage your own time, but it is so demanding that unless you choose to actually work more and harder than you did in a traditional job, you’re going to fail” (p. 31).
  • Impressive: “Do you know what genuinely impresses people in an entrepreneur?…It’s winning….Have you made things happen?” (pp. 52, 53).
  • Judgmental: “[Some] entrepreneurs are good at sizing up people and opportunities, and some aren’t — and that’s often the margin of victory” (p. 58).
  • Keen: “The intuitively judgmental nature of successful entrepreneurs…is supported by their keenness.  They may make a decision on gut instinct, but not in a vacuum.  Their gut is telling them things because their eyes have sen clues and their intuition has filtered out the irrelevant facts to focus on what matters most” (p. 63).
  • Opportunistic: “[Most] successful people are demand-driven….They see the wants and needs around them, listen to what people are asking for, and figure out how to make and deliver it” (p. 85).
  • Pragmatic: “The pragmatic entrepreneur is concerned with what will actually work to help his or her business succeed” (p. 91).
  • Responsible: “I think that if there were some way to test it, we’d find that successful entrepreneurs have an internal locus of control.  They perceive their world, for better or worse, is basically shaped by their own choices or responses to events” (p. 100).
  • Successful: “[Entrepreneurs] aren’t just people who start things — anybody can start stuff.  Entrepreneurs start businesses that survive.  Successful entrepreneurs start businesses that succeed.  They win.
  • Teachable: “Aldous Huxley argued that ‘experience only teaches the teachable’….Teachability doesn’t just mean being around people or sources that stimulate; it means the entrepreneur tries new things so they can always be learning something” (pp. 111, 112).
  • Xenomorphic: “So, are successful entrepreneurs born or made? Yes.  They are peculiar people with very peculiar abilities shaped by the DNA, parents, upbringing, education, early work experiences, the demands of life, etc.  Like a rock that is unlike the rocks around it but shaped by the surrounding strata, they stand out.  They aren’t more beautiful or valuable, but they are unique.  They have a look about them, a demeanor, and a manner of speaking and interacting with their environment” (p. 135).
  • Yearning: “[True] entrepreneurs will keep fighting, competing, inventing, launching, and starting until the day they die” (p. 140).
  • Zeal: “Thomas Aquinas…said that ‘The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces.’  In other words, great results matter more than great passion” (pp. 143,144).

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