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Entrepreneurship: Is it for You?

Entrepreneurs are often described as people with big dreams—people who get excited about bringing a new idea to life but have less interest in the day-to-day activities that follow.

But there’s much more to it than that. Entrepreneurs tend to be drawn to opportunity, innovation, and value. They enjoy building things, making a difference, and finding new ways to move forward.

What would make you a natural entrepreneur?

Do you think in terms of what hasn’t been done before? This can mean finding a unique twist on an existing product, service, or process, or inventing something new.

For example, it has long been possible to use a phone to call for a ride home. Today, using a mobile app offers a unique alternative. An innovation can also take a much bigger leap, such as building a brand new medical tool.

You may be a natural entrepreneur if you’ve often been told that you are good at

  • thinking up “ideas”
  • solving problems
  • seeing opportunities
  • inspiring and leading people

Do you have what it takes?

It takes certain skills, attitudes, and values to start a business and make it a success. You can learn some of these on the job, but others are more likely part of your personality. Here are some common traits of entrepreneurs:

  • Innovative. Where others see problems, they see solutions.
  • Educated. Where others think learning happens at school, they learn from many sources, and often have post-secondary education.
  • Competitive. Where others fear competition, they are driven to achieve their goals.
  • Open to risks. Where others lean toward safety, they enjoy taking risks.
  • Proactive. Where others like structure in their days, they are self-starters.

Confidence, optimism, independence, creativity, motivation, work ethic, and the ability to be persuasive are also key. So are physical health and stamina.

Should you think about this path?

There are great reasons to think about being an entrepreneur:

  • Small businesses help communities prosper.
  • Innovation supports Alberta’s economy.
  • Communities need people to solve complex problems in areas from health care to computing.

There are many great personal reasons to think about being an entrepreneur, too:

  • There can be a lot of different things to think about and keep track of, since you are usually moving from one idea or task to another.
  • You have more control than most workers over when and where you work.
  • You can choose to work on something that inspires your passion.
  • You can run your business by your values, such as by donating some of your profits to a good cause.
  • You can have more control over your life than you would by working for someone else.

Assess the risk

While a lucky few make it big right away, others rely on credit or other types of support to fund their dreams. To feel good about doing things like this, you need to be okay with a moderate amount of risk. You also need to believe that your plan will succeed. It is wise to consult family members, friends, mentors, and business advisors for help in understanding the risks before you get started.

Until you build a strong market for your work, you won’t have a steady paycheque. In fact, your income can be quite unstable for the first few years. Some people hold other jobs to pay their bills during this time.

How can you make this work?

Although many people think of entrepreneurs as money-makers, that’s not the main reason why many people choose this path.

Factors like job satisfaction, interest, and control over their lives are often more important, and the money (if it comes) is a bonus. In fact, in the start-up and early growth phase of a new business, most owners work longer hours for less pay than they earned working for someone else.

Ideally, that time will pay off in greater income and a lighter workload as the company grows.

In this video, consider what entrepreneurial attributes Dave has. What steps is he taking to gain important skills and manage risk?

Studying Entrepreneurship at a Technical Institute (2:30)

Dave is studying business at a technical institute. Watch as he discusses working towards entrepreneurship, the benefits of small class size, and becoming involved with his student association.

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