Being an entrepreneur takes a commitment that not all can make

There is an age-old business and humanity question that frequently comes up in business journals and college classrooms: Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Invariably the question really never gets answered and is a mix of subjective analysis. I am not sure I know the answer either, but feel that it requires certain born traits as well as a lot of life experience that shapes desires, risk tolerance, ambition and passion.

I think an entrepreneur is born with certain valuable traits and intelligence, with the balance a matter of one’s life experiences.

I would handicap this at 20 percent born traits and 80 percent life experiences. I see a lot of people who want to be entrepreneurs, but just don’t have the necessary elements to make it happen. What are those traits necessary to be an entrepreneur?

Again, you’ll get a lot of different and varied answers. But to me, they need to include some basics:

  1. A risk taker — one is who not intimidated by taking calculated risks.
  2. A certain confidence (and maybe even a bit of arrogance).
  3. Ambitious and relentless in pursuit of goals.
  4. Takes initiative and acts decisively.
  5. Embodies a life force of independence.

Keep in mind that merely having these abilities won’t guarantee success.

That’s a whole different analysis. There are also many entrepreneurs that have taken different paths within the entrepreneurial sector. For example, are you the type of person who is a natural franchisor or would you rather be the franchisee type?

Both are entrepreneurs, yet very different. What is appealing to someone is disdained by others. Personally, I feel I can only be the franchisor — the person developing the concept, setting up the rules and controlling more of the game. Others would rather know the rules upfront, limit the downside and have a better picture of the game.

Your path can be determined by looking inward and being honest with yourself. Many people are pushed into being entrepreneurs because of outside influences and circumstances not necessarily under their control and usually the result of downsizing or layoffs from a larger company.

They quickly learn the value of the perks, safety and security of a non-entrepreneurial vocation and lifestyle. Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. I am not saying that one is better than the other.  What is important to know is what traits or philosophical views you have that suit you to be one or the other.

Which jobs thrilled you and which ones disappointed? Is one in the hand really better than two in the bush What are your dreams? Do you really want responsibility and burden? When you are home, what do think about?

As an entrepreneur, I can tell you that my work life stays close to me even when I am home and on vacation — not something I am proud of.  Ask yourself some hard-hitting questions and you’ll know and understand yourself better and be able to plot a truer course for your life.

Steven L. Marks is founder and CEO at Main Street Gourmet