How to become an entrepreneur: Do you have what it takes?

4 minutes read


"Could I do it on my own out there?" is a question that many of us have asked ourselves in the course of our careers.

The answer to that question may be tied to whether or not we have a specific set of aptitudes and motivators that make us potential entrepreneurs, says Yvon Gasse, Professor and Director of the SME and Entrepreneurship Centre at Laval University. Gasse collaborated with BDC to develop the Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment Tool which helps people better measure their entrepreneurial potential.

"Although many factors come into play such as your personal circumstances and timing, research does show that business owners often share certain qualities that make up the entrepreneurial mindset," he emphasizes.

Key motivators

For example, Gasse points to 3 "motivating factors", among others, that attract people to the idea of becoming entrepreneurs in the first place.

1. Need for achievement

"The notion of challenge is an important one for entrepreneurs. They often have a strong need to set objectives and achieve specific goals. They will naturally take measures to meet these goals and will want rapid feedback on their achievements," he believes.

2. Need to influence

"Often entrepreneurial types want to influence people and the course of events. Making money may be one motivator but ultimately entrepreneurs want to make an impact on people through their businesses. They may also want to shape the course of events by, for example, buying another company or moving their business to China."

3. Autonomy

"Another motivator at the root of entrepreneurship is the desire to be independent," says Gasse. "You want to be your own boss and feel in control of your destiny. Independence is a strong driver for people who want to set up their own businesses and pursue their dreams."

Some key aptitudes that shape entrepreneurs

Along with these motivating factors, Gasse contends that entrepreneurs also have specific aptitudes that make them more likely candidates to set up their own businesses.

Among these are:

1. Perseverance

"Business owners are usually determined to get past obstacles and see a project through its completion despite setbacks. They will overcome their frustrations and problems and persevere," says Gasse. "Given the challenges of today's complex business environment, this aptitude is at the top of the list."

2. Self-assurance

"Entrepreneurs show self-confidence and trust their instincts. This self-assurance helps them through difficult times and pushes them to achieve tough goals," he says. Without that self-assurance, people hesitate and aren't so willing to take calculated risks, he adds.

3. Creativity

Another aptitude that Gasse emphasizes is creativity. "This is particularly true when it comes to the ability of an entrepreneur to creatively identify business opportunities. Entrepreneurs instinctively see gaps in the market and can find unique products and services that meet a demand," he emphasizes.

4. Tolerance for ambiguity

"Entrepreneurs are comfortable with ambiguity, and capable of making decisions even when they don't have all the information they need. For example, you might be selling products or services in a relatively unknown market. This level of uncertainty can be very stressful for most people but entrepreneurs learn how to work around it," he believes.

5. Attitude toward failure

"Many business owners have a long history of failures and accept these as part of the learning experience," says Gasse. "Rather than view failure as a catastrophe, an entrepreneur will learn from his or her mistakes and what to avoid the next time around. They'll pick themselves up after a failure and start over."

6. Action-oriented

"Entrepreneurs don't rest on their laurels and are driven to accomplish their objectives through concrete action," adds Gasse. "They want to get down to work and won't put off difficult tasks until later. That strong desire to tackle their objectives and see quick results often characterizes people who want to run their own companies."

Before you get going

If you see that you have the necessary motivators and aptitudes to become an entrepreneur, Gasse recommends that you first get a clear business plan in place. "It's important to not think of your business plan as simply a way to attract financing. It's much broader than that. Ideally, a business plan is a real roadmap that shows where you are going with your company. It should demonstrate that you've done your homework, understand your market and that you can actually generate business. Once you have that plan in place, you can move more confidently ahead."