Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Every new business has to start somewhere. For some entrepreneurs, it begins as a hobby. For others, a new business grows out of a particular passion that’s been brewing for years. For still others, a new venture represents an outgrowth of recognizing an opportunity and then taking the steps to deliver a needed product or service.

Recognizing an opportunity is one thing. Being able to take advantage of it is quite another. So how do regular people go from being a 40-hour-a-week employee to entrepreneur and business owner? It’s all about identifying, channeling and developing a group of personal tendencies and skills that enable a person to go from where they are to where they want to be.

Even after all these years, there’s no definition of entrepreneurship to which everyone agrees. That’s because the concept is so complex. Some experts say true entrepreneurship can’t be taught: people are are either born with it or not. While such personal traits as drive, ambition and dedication might be bestowed at birth, life experiences also play a major role in preparing an individual for an entrepreneurial life.

Where you are in life, what your current career path is or where you are located should have little to do with your potential to become an entrepreneur. Rather, the answers to the following seven questions offer a better gauge of your true potential:

  1. Do you have an uncommon passion for something?
  2. Are you willing to live and deal with more risk than most people?
  3. Are you a good problem solver?
  4. Are you well organized and attentive to detail?
  5. Do you have a burning desire to succeed?
  6. Can you effectively manage multiple priorities at the same time?
  7. Are you good at listening and then following up?
Daniel Hannaher
Daniel Hannaher

If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free online self-assessment titled “Are You Ready to Start a Business?” The assessment can help individuals decide whether going into business might be right for them. The assessment is available at www.sba.gov/assessmenttool/index.html.

The SBA also offers a free small business planner at www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/getready/index.html and free online tutorials at www.sba.gov/training/index.html. The tutorials help inform, educate and prepare people for the rigors of starting and owning a business.

Going into business isn’t for everyone. The days are long, the challenges often seem overwhelming and the risks can be substantial. But for the right person, the rewards can be tremendous personally and professionally.

The timing for entrepreneurial ventures never has been better. Economic recoveries often create opportunities for new products, services and companies. Is it time for you to chart a course that leads to a new beginning?

Daniel Hannaher, the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII administrator, works out of Denver. Reach him by e-mail at Daniel.Hannaher@sba.gov.