It was 9 p.m. Friday in the middle of summer. The weather was perfect. My friends were out on the town, having fun and taking pictures they’ll have to explain in future job interviews. I was holed up in my tiny apartment typing away. Why? Because I was becoming an entrepreneur.
Ask anyone what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and you’ll hear a variety of responses: a great business plan, access to capital and a bunch of other phrases straight from a college PowerPoint presentation. But when you talk to those in the trenches who are pursuing their entrepreneurial dream every single day, the answers are different: passion, purpose, grit and being a little irrational—because these character traits are essential.
“Most businesses fail.” Your mom told you that. “Get a job with benefits.” Your dad told you that. “Your business will never make it.” Everyone else told you that. But true entrepreneurs push on anyway, because we have to. It’s what feels right.
If a desire to be an entrepreneur keeps you awake at night, try these three free ways to see if you have what it takes:
1. Pitch your business idea to 30 people. Not five or 10, but 30. If presenting to 30 people seems ridiculous because you know most of them will be unenthusiastic, no need to read any further. A typical business owner will receive hundreds of rejections his or her first year. If you can’t let go of rejection quickly, you’re better off sticking with a steady paycheck and online dating.
2. Make the first investment. For each of the next two weeks, commit to working an extra 20 hours. Spend those extra hours becoming an expert in your new venture. Identify your competitors. Learn about your customers. Map out the first 90 days of your new venture. If it’s right for you, you’ll grow even more excited (to work another 20 hours the coming week)!
3. Interview 10 entrepreneurs. Ask these people—all of whom started a business at zero revenue—about the good, the bad, the ugly and the inspiring. Interviewing entrepreneurs changed my life and gave me a new appreciation for “big hat, no cattle.” The wealthiest entrepreneur I met lived in the smallest house (and still does).
After 17 years as a business owner, I can tell you it’s simple to become an entrepreneur. Anyone can print business cards that say CEO or founder. It’s tough to stay an entrepreneur. Staying an entrepreneur means you pushed through all the challenges, naysayers and distractions without giving up on yourself or your dream. I know you can do it.
All I ask is that, once you make it as an entrepreneur, you share your experience and story with others. Hearing an entrepreneur’s story changed my life and inspired me to take the path I live today. And, yes, I still work some Friday nights. But now that I’m the boss, I can fire myself, too!