Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Many decide to begin a startup only to find it was more than they bargained for, they had the wrong motivation, or perhaps their skill set wasn't appropriate. Sadly, these people waste time and resources not only of their own, but of the people who invest in them and work for them. It's tough to figure out whether you really have what it takes until you go through the process, but there are some clues. Here are some telltale signs to assess yourself before you go too far down the wrong path.

1. You care a lot about people's feelings.

The more you read about Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates, the more you will understand that while these men incite extreme admiration, they have not been loved by many. As a successful entrepreneur, your role is to make certain things happen regardless of the attitudes and desires around you. You carry the awesome responsibility of making tough decisions and keeping near-impossible standards that are bound to make many stakeholders unhappy no matter which way you go. If you want to be loved, stick to philanthropy.

2. You are in it to get stinking rich.

While it's true that entrepreneurship is the third most effective way to get wealthy after inheriting or marrying wealth, few actually make it to a stable fortune. In fact, more than 96 percent of companies generate less than $1,000,000 in revenue. After you account for payroll, cost of goods, and everything else, you most likely will end up with a manageable living comparable to an employed professional.

3. You think Shark Tank is truly about helping entrepreneurs.

Shark Tank certainly appeals to entrepreneurial types, but it really is about two things: entertainment and exposure. The sharks certainly don't need the show to find investment opportunities. Anyone with their wealth gets plenty of inquiries. The producers are more interested in ratings than helping any of the contestants, and the contestants with legitimate opportunities and business models either want inexpensive promotion or the power of the sharks themselves. Most entrepreneurs with solid plans and revenue can more easily find wealthy and willing investors without the high risk of public scrutiny or embarrassment.

4. You don't like to be challenged.

There is no shortage of passionate entrepreneurs who believe in their offering and their path to success. But that path is nearly always actually paved with important failure and learning. The most successful entrepreneurs are not the ones who optimistically believe that their ideas will work no matter what. Rather, they pragmatically focus from the outset on why their ideas are flawed and set out to constantly solve and improve their situation. They are much more interested in being successful than in being right, and they worship people who will save them the wasted time of finding mistakes the hard way.

5. You believe in disruption.

Try naming 10 startup entrepreneurs who have successfully disrupted an industry. Sure, we love the stories, but tremendous disruption often comes from corporate R & D. Too many people have blown their most productive years and their bank accounts on trying to create a massive change in society that was never likely to happen. Most successful entrepreneurs simply look at the way the world already works, then build a company to support the existing system. Then they focus on great execution instead of behavior change.

6. You expect to be Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg.

Entrepreneurs love to claim the anomalies as their heroes. Certainly it's great to admire these people, but almost no one will have their experience. Most people will not be in the right place at the right time. Most people will not have the skills or talent or connections. The odds of one of these exceptional paths working for you is incredibly tiny. There just aren't many people who have the resources, timing, and talent to become world renowned, and most of them you can find on the Forbes 400 list. And, as it turns out, more than 30 percent of the people on that list inherited their money.

7. You'd rather be sleeping.

Despite what Tim Ferris would have you believe, extremely few entrepreneurs actually have a four-hour workweek, and those lucky few achieve it only if they do everything right. Being a successful entrepreneur requires commitment, support, and most of all the discretion to correctly make all the right moves in spite of your wrong ones. That comes only with time. The more time you spend doing right things right, the faster and bigger you'll grow. You can sleep when and if you actually get there.

Published on: Mar 27, 2015
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