(This is the first of a series of posts that contains random excerpts from my upcoming book and newly scheduled free webinars)
Sorry, but despite all of those ads on television, there aren’t any “magic beans” to help you embark upon a road of entrepreneurship and financial freedom. Save your money. If it was that simple, there’d be a millionaire on every street corner.
If you are thinking that you are ready to leave the daily grind of “employee-dom” for a life of freedom and independence as a business owner, I recommend that you read this first.
If you believe that becoming a founder and business owner, an “entrepreneur” will provide you with financial wherewithal and more free time to doing other the things, and life will be grand not having superiors telling you what to do, but rather you’ll reap the rewards of your heady work and hard efforts, you may want to slow down.
First and foremost, doing something entrepreneurial doesn’t necessarily make one an entrepreneur, which is why it is so important to FIRST learn about what is en-grained in your DNA, BEFORE leaving your current job to embark upon a new business venture and the pursuit of a vision.
Knowing yourself and understanding your “Inner Entrepreneur” (or lack of), may be more important than your vision and even the business model itself.
It may in fact be your inborn traits that will predetermine your success or failure, rather than the value propositions of your business plan and the strategy map to get there.
“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer” – Machiavelli
Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are typically recognized for being born with certain traits engrained in their DNA. I believe that most of these traits are difficult, if not impossible to be ascertained over time and can’t be taught. Contrary to most books and media ads, there are no “magic beans” to entrepreneurship.
Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, rather than an undertaking of a business venture.
It is so important for those considering business ownership, business creation, and even for those venturing into a new career path, to FIRST understand WHO they are, HOW they are built and with WHAT they are made of, prior to the pursuit of a new endeavor or stepping into business ownership for the first time. Successes and failures are often predetermined by an individual’s makeup.
One should consider that most start-ups fail, and the reasons WHY aren’t solely due to a bad economy, bad luck, untimely ideas, competition, etc.
Most have a hard time entertaining the reality that a new business will fail, because its creator, is perhaps just NOT cut out to take on the roles of being a methodical taskmaster, charismatic leader and risk taker while possessing the drive and passion to carry on, when all is not going as well as initially intended.
Tuning out the cynics isn’t easy, but an absolute ingredient to achieving success.
A necessity to succeed in a new business, is the ability to see, and subsequently sell the vision to your targeted customers, convert the cynics, while having your initial partners SEE, what you see, and believe as you do. I think that inborn skills and traits are needed to accomplish these tasks. Intellectual humility, drive and passion, intelligent thinking rather than emotional driven guidance, charisma, fearlessness and basic instincts come to mind, just to name a few.
The ability to get others to see the invisible and believe in the impossible is tantamount to an entrepreneurs successful launching of a new business. The skill to do this simply cannot be taught, period.
Now I am not saying that most cannot do something entrepreneurial. People do so every day. But just like playing baseball doesn’t make one a baseball player, or playing the piano, doesn’t make one a musician, doing something entrepreneurial doesn’t make one an entrepreneur.
Differentiating between these two words, and understanding the differences, may be the single most important issue that a person needs to consider BEFORE starting their own business venture.
“To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect” – Lao Tzu
The faster one realizes that they may not possess the necessary traits and inborn tools to be a pioneer and risk taker, the better off they and those around them will be by taking the appropriate action of not going blindly into a new undertaking by the lure of independence, wealth and freedom. It’s not so simple!
“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult, to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions, and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones” Machiavelli
I think that when Machiavelli made the above statement, he must have been defining in his most eloquent terms, an Entrepreneur.
As a true entrepreneur, not only possesses both the guts and the passion to disregard the dangers of failing by going “against the grain” but they must also maintain a drive and enthusiasm to seek out, what is invisible to most. The entrepreneur must use his or her inborn skills to get all of the doubters and old school institutions to see the new business vision with enough clarity, that a new air of excitement fills the room.
Those inborn traits and characteristics that I look for when describing an entrepreneur include; fearless, creative, charismatic, tireless, passionate, committed, instinctive, unwavering work ethic, integrity, intellectual humility, being a creature of intelligence and not a creature of emotion and the “it” factor.
I have yet to see any of these traits or characteristics acquired or taught to those without, but can and should be honed if possessed. Only you know if you have that fire raging inside.
Having a thirst for knowledge is only a great trait if you are humble enough to learn from all those around you. It’s what I call intellectual humility.
Intellectual Humility: The gift of being intelligent enough to understand the importance of knowing what you don’t know, while possessing a mind so open, that you hope to learn something, from everyone you encounter.
Also, it pays to listen to hear what others may be telling you in their criticism. From our skeptics we sometimes learn what we don’t know, and successful people always have one thing in common. They all know what they don’t know and understand that its part of the intellectual humility required to be a leader and pioneer. To not recognize that you do not know everything is a defect and fatal flaw to a leadership role.
I have seen these skills honed and I for one pride myself on being able to help those with inborn talent, find and nurture their skills. However, I just I don’t believe that anyone can teach someone to be a risk taker, a visionary, or a leader with an ability to “light up a room”, when it is simply not part of their inner born DNA. I had come to the conclusion early in my career, that one cannot teach someone else to have a great work ethic and intellectual humility, which perhaps are two traits that separate the successful from the not so successful.
Regardless, many people will state that they want to reach a financial pinnacle and pretend to do what is necessary to get there, but it is one thing for someone to say that you want it all, and quite something else to do what it takes to achieve it. Deeds not words, as my mother used to they say, right after she told me that to make an omelet, some eggs will have to be broken.
ACTION is just a bit better than INACTION. REACTION is equal to ACTION but it is PROACTIVENESS that truly separates leaders and trailblazers from those that are not. After ACTION, REACTION and PROACTION, it is CONVICTION and SELF CONFIFIDENCE that an entrepreneur and business owner need to be a Successful Sales Professional.
It’s always about the building of a team and the chasing of a goal with that team, regardless if you are pushing from behind or pulling from the front.
Rather than emotionally battle skepticism and blatant cynicism, successful entrepreneurs find and embrace the solutions needed to face their critics. It is always a more intelligent decision to fight fire with water, rather than the poor decision in the emotionally charged idea of fighting fire with fire.
Remember, not only is TIME our most precious commodity, but it can also be corrosive in nature. Time kills all deals!!
Desire, drive and conviction are important, but will not get you to the finish line alone. The traits need to be combined with wisdom learned from hard lessons. Practical experience is best attained via impractical mistakes. Critical thinking combined with fearless efforts typically will yield surprising results.
Realistic goals, value propositions, properly articulated and simplified business models, a winning culture, a high powered, but not abrasive sales engine, methodical execution and leadership skills are all required to find the road to success. But, it’s the drive, passion, convictions that allow the true entrepreneur to persevere through the more difficult challenges stated.
Remember, there are no “Magic Beans”
I see too many ads these days, promising financial freedom and increased leisure time by learning how to become an entrepreneur from a CD, a book, or what I call the “magic beans”.
And in these late night promises of success and financial rewards, you will find the lures which includes more free time, the ability to working from home, your own schedule, extra vacations, more family time, afternoons off, etc. You will also see the seduction used in the fancy cars, houses, boats, and the like, in the back drop of these ads.
You will find that when you dig deeper, most of these ‘bean sellers” have no personal start up ventures or business successes on their profiles. Without practical experience, I would hardly think that selling a ‘how to” system would make someone a successful entrepreneur. Those who are selling the beans with no track record of their own, will certainly object to this post. Guilty consciences rarely need accusers.
Truth be known, I have never met a successful entrepreneur or self-starting independent business owner, that would be interested in any of that sort of free time or “toys” as the passion behind the endeavor.
Most entrepreneurs enjoy never really being able to reach the bar that he or she has set for themselves, as they are continually raising it (the bar) which to many may seem like a personality defect. To the entrepreneur, its the simple “thrill of the chase” in perpetually challenging oneself to improve and provide an encore!
Of course, the “where” may play a big role in one’s journey, as not all locales are equal when it comes to encouraging business creators and providing the freedoms to pursue visions.
Small business creation has always been the strength of the US economy and its robust working class, hence, the freedoms combined with opportunities allow visionaries to pursue their dreams here more easily than in other areas.
Being born with the entrepreneur traits engrained in one’s DNA doesn’t always make for a better life. If not combined with balance, the gene, can sometimes be more of a curse than an asset, and finding that balance, is sometimes harder for an entrepreneur, than finding the road map to successfully meeting a vision.
Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, rather than an undertaking of a business venture.
It is so important for those considering business ownership, business creation, and even for those venturing into a new career path, to FIRST understand WHO they are, HOW they are built and with WHAT they are made of, prior to the pursuit of a new endeavor or stepping into business ownership for the first time. Successes and failures are often predetermined by an individual’s makeup.
One should consider that most start-ups fail, and the reasons WHY aren’t solely due to a bad economy, bad luck, untimely ideas, competition, etc.. Most have a hard time entertaining the reality that a new business will fail, because its creator, is perhaps just NOT cut out to take on the roles of being a methodical taskmaster, charismatic leader and risk taker while possessing the drive and passion to carry on, when all is not going as well as initially intended.
Tuning out the cynics isn’t easy, but an absolute ingredient to achieving success. A necessity to succeed in a new business, is the ability to see, and subsequently sell the vision to your targeted customers, convert the cynics, while having your initial partners SEE, what you see, and believe as you do.
Many believe that inborn skills and traits are needed to accomplish these tasks. Intellectual humility, drive and passion, intelligent thinking rather than emotional driven guidance, charisma, fearlessness and basic instincts come to mind, just to name a few.

About Me –I am a nine time business founder and retired Global CEO – I now spend most of my time as an independent consultant for startups, early stage ventures and small business seeking new concepts, direction, disruptive innovation, growth, development, capital raise strategies and interim executive management at AUTUS Advisory Partners (www.autupartners.com).
To sign up for my webinars and get the upcoming schedule, please visit http://autuspartners.com/contact-us/
James Vena
Twitter @jamesavena
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

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