When I saw the news that Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick would be Stephen Colbert’s first-week show guests, I thought, “Yep, it’s happened. Entrepreneurs are the new pop stars.” I don’t remember the business icons of my day–heck, I don’t even think we had business icons–guest starring on Jay Leno. But then again, few were as nerdy cool as Elon and Travis.
Now that it’s hip to be an entrepreneur, almost everyone wants to be one. Except about 85 percent of you won’t ever make the leap, according to a 2012 Edward Jones survey. Why? Blame the four-letter word: F-E-A-R.
So how do you know you really have what it takes to strike out on your own? Here’s 21 ways to tell, in no particular order:
1. You’re very competitive, even though you like helping others.
2. You’re a little weird because you’re in your head a lot.
3. You get very passionate about your idea and can work on it for hours without noticing.
4. You’re receptive to criticism and change according to new information.
5. Because of that, you have a good number of mentors and advisers.
6. You fail often but you get back on your feet right away.
7. You can be a little combative and rub some people the wrong way.
8. You used to sell things when you were a kid.
9. Sometimes you can’t tell exactly what comes first – your company or your family.
10. You have a chip on your shoulder from people underestimating you.
11. You look at things and think, “How can I do it better?”
12. You sometimes get into trouble at work because you like the freedom to do things first, rather than asking for permission.
13. You might be someone who’s afraid of bugs, but when it comes to any matters of business, you’re pretty fearless.
14. Your mind is always “on” and you can’t sit still and do nothing for long.
15. But you like taking long walks or doing solitary things that allow you to contemplate and think.
16. You were an outsider at school.
17. You work really, really hard and you enjoy it.
18. You also like to play hard because when you’re focused on something, you zero in on it.
19. You love reading business books.
20. You might be insecure in some areas but when it comes to your business, you’re supremely self-confident that what you’re doing is right.
21. You know how to manage your money well.
Congratulations if you possess a majority of the traits above–you’re an entrepreneur! But before you start putting that business plan together, do me one favor and ask yourself this question below:
How would you feel if after five years you still hadn’t started your business?
If the answer is an unequivocal “I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror again,” then you’re ready to pursue your dream of entrepreneurship. You’d be surprised how many people pause at the question above. There’s a reason why only 15 percent of Americans ever become entrepreneurs, knowing that the odds of success are stacked against them. So while it’s sexy to think about working for yourself, most of those fantasies will stay just that: a fantasy.
Do you have what it takes?