Fear not: this won't be a post filled with phrases like "passionate," "self-starter," and all the usual cliches about entrepreneurs. Obviously they're self-motivated workers, or they wouldn't be successful. Clearly they're "problem solvers," or they would never understand their industry.
What I find more interesting about entrepreneurs is the quirkier sides of their personalities. They tend to be outsiders who are prone to boredom. They get into trouble, then (usually) bounce right out of it. Their so-called passion usually borders on straight-up eccentricity.
When I think of the many talented company founders or independent workers I know, these are the kinds of characteristics that make their personalities and businesses so compelling. And you don't have to run your own company to have any or all of these life-enriching qualities.
With that in mind, here are eight of my favorite signs of a true entrepreneurial spirit:
1. You don't fit into any other job.
Entrepreneurs are almost always super creative, love taking chances, and ask a ton of questions about everything. Because of this, these people are often seen as opinionated, eccentric, and even demanding when they go to work at other companies. Your average employee is content to quietly follow the company's rulebook; your average entrepreneur wants to tear the rulebook up and write their own, then tear that one up, too.
Most jobs just weren't made for rulebook-breakers. If you're not ready to strike out on your own, try working at a smaller company where entrepreneurial traits are much more common and independent thinking is often encouraged.
2. You're skilled at multiple disciplines.
At SalesFolk, I've had to learn and use a huge range of job skills to grow my company: writing, coding, design, selling, finance. One of the reasons I was able to master so much in a relatively short time is that I tend to be naturally curious about most things. It's never felt like "work" to learn a new skill, even if it's an area I have no prior experience in (coding) or don't especially love (cold calling).
I'm not an unusual case here. Ask any entrepreneur, and they will rattle off a list of skills that cover everything from open-source code deployments to understanding corporate law.
3. You'll try anything at least once.
Be it new software, an unusual travel destination, or a really weird food, there's no limit to the new experiences you're willing to have. This is is part of having a "risk-taker" personality.
It's also a huge reason entrepreneurs succeed in business. They are 100 percent down to try the latest technologies and methods, or go after a client most would consider above them. You know that internal cynic who says, "Your business is way too new and small to work with those guys." It doesn't hold much power over the entrepreneur.
4. You get bored easily.
You would think being open to trying anything would mean you're never bored, but actually, the opposite is true. Being natural thrill-seekers, entrepreneurs never like to stay comfortable for long. Once they master something new, they're ready to move on to the next challenge.
This kind of energy is necessary for any entrepreneur. Sure, it can prove inconvenient when you want to overhaul a process and your fellow executives tell you to sit back and wait. For the most part, though, being easily bored is a surprisingly rewarding trait.
5. You often catch yourself trying to do everything.
You know how to update the website code and edit the next email campaign and ready payroll. Why waste time showing someone else how to do it?
But at a certain point in a company's growth, you have to hand some important areas off to others. To do this as effectively as possible, surround yourself with people you have absolute faith in, who can see your vision and know how to execute on it. These relationships take a long time to build, so it's best to start cultivating them long before you yourself grow too busy to handle everything.
6. You get into trouble frequently.
You don't need an in-depth history of the business world to know that pushing the rules--and sometimes the law--is often a part of success. Most entrepreneur types are perfectly willing to sidestep the rules if they see a better way of approaching a problem. It's a bit like ignoring the 35-mile-per-hour speed limit on a deserted road. You know there's a chance of getting caught, but you'll reach your destination faster if you speed anyway.
Yes, you can take this concept way too far and wind up in jail (or burned at the stake, if you want to go really far back in history). But so long as you're not engaging in blatantly destructive, Silk Road-esque practices, there are a lot of advantages to the "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission" approach.
7. You get yourself out of trouble even more frequently.
One of the things I love about entrepreneurs is their uncanny ability to get themselves out of messy situations. For example, most of them could probably talk their way out of a ticket for breaking that 35-mile-per-hour speed limit.
In business, we encounter trouble all the time. Some of it's self-made, like running your business off pirated software to save money, then getting caught. Sometimes it's just a part of growth, like a bad financial quarter or losing a valuable employee without warning. The troubles will happen, but one thing that's true of all entrepreneurs: they have so much resilience they will find a solution 99.5 percent of the time.
8. You're humble.
Since this is a post about the entrepreneurial spirit, I won't say you have to have this trait in order to succeed at business. However, every single person I know who runs a highly successful business constantly keeps their ego in check. They surround themselves with advisors and give their employees a voice in the company, too.
Think about it: no one wants to work for the person whose favorite pastime is telling everyone else how wrong their ideas are. Real entrepreneurs know their success is the result of a single vision, but many minds.