Entrepreneurs are a unique breed. When others see problems, we see opportunities. When we're explicitly told not to do something, we often pursue it. And when we succeed, we relish in knowing that it was our own, stubborn effort that got us there.
Much has been written about the traits that entrepreneurs share in common. Whether it's our competitive nature, creative spirit, or desire for control, we stand out from the crowd. But these traits alone don't necessarily make one an entrepreneur.
Beneath the surface, there are other, not-so-common indicators that you just might be wired for entrepreneurship. Here are three hidden signs that you may be destined to be a part of the bold fourteen percent of Americans who are starting or running a business.
1. You're motivated by setbacks
If you've ever found yourself invigorated by a setback, you're in good company. Just ask Gary Vaynerchuck, serial entrepreneur and CEO of VaynerMedia: "I'm obsessed with losing," Vaynerchuck confesses. "I love losing, because I know what you're thinking about my loss, and I can't wait to stick it in your face when I come back."
For Vaynerchuck, losing makes him determined to overcome the odds, and persevere. The entrepreneur's journey is filled with setbacks and disappointment. Pain and suffering are part of the rite of passage. It's the avidity to bounce back that runs in the blood of true entrepreneurs.
If you've ever laughed out loud when you were fired, found yourself mildly excited when you hit rock bottom, or enjoy spicy foods to the point of tears--congratulations, you fit the bill.
2. You have a massive business network, but few friends
Are you a super connector at work, but a loner at home? Fear not, for this is a telltale sign that you are primed to be your own boss. Entrepreneurs place a premium on their business reputation, oftentimes at the expense of personal relationships with friends or family.
If you're a star in your own company--or better yet, your industry--but can count your close friends on one hand, welcome to the club. Richard Branson, business icon, investor, and philanthropist, has built a vast business network during the span of his career. His obsession with networking has been key to his ability to launch and grow businesses across disparate industries such as airlines, music, and finance.
"Succeeding in business is all about making connections," Branson postulates. "No matter how heavy your workload is, everyone can and should be a networker."
3. You are never satisfied
In 1998, as a senior on the Los Altos High School track and field team, I won the California State Championship in the high jump. After years of hard work, training, and dozens of track meets over four years, I was standing on the top of the podium, having bested every other jumper in the Golden State.
Somehow, I was oddly disappointed. My winning jump was six feet eight inches, which was below my personal best for the season. I remember thinking to myself: if only I had jumped higher.
Entrepreneurs are never satisfied. Our victories are fleeting, because we always want more. It's why successful entrepreneurs commonly start new businesses after selling their last one. We seek new challenges, new setbacks to overcome, and live for the thrill of the fight.
Is now the right time to make your move?
Transitioning to entrepreneurship is never easy. Even if you exhibit all of the traits above, the reality of paying your bills or supporting a family can easily discourage many would-be entrepreneurs from trying.
A few strategies to make your move now include raising a small seed round from friends and family, or taking out a loan. Even better: solve a problem and get paid for it. After all, sales cures all ills. You can also try moonlighting on the side until you generate enough revenue to cover part of your salary.
If you've been employed in the same industry for several years--or are exceptionally well networked--you are probably highly employable, and would be able to find work if you needed to come back.
Entrepreneurs are inspired to take calculated risks. Trust your gut, and take yours.