No one is born an entrepreneur
Zhuazhou is a Chinese ritual held during a child’s first birthday celebration, where parents choose objects that symbolize certain careers or personality traits that they hope their children will follow or have as adults – a stethoscope for a doctor, maybe a ruler for an engineer, or a pencil for a writer. The one-year-old is then set free to crawl or hobble over to choose one of the objects that will predict the career they will have.
An entrepreneur is defined as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.’ As straightforward as it may seem - it is far beyond that.
Probably more than any other profession, being an entrepreneur is the one that needs the most variety of skills and knowledge. You do not work as an entrepreneur; you are an entrepreneur because you cannot be anything else. Entrepreneurs feel trapped in any job other than being an entrepreneur. They will sacrifice time with family and friends to be an entrepreneur.
Perhaps no one is born to be an entrepreneur. However, I believe that you need to be born with certain personality traits that are essential to be a successful entrepreneur.
So, what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? What is learned and what is innate?
The five essential traits you need to be born with are:
Motivation: Entrepreneurs need to be motivated; they need endless motivation to keep going and not give up on their vision. Despite various obstacles, drawbacks, hardships, doubts, and rejections, they need the motivation to keep them going. Motivation and ambition go hand in hand, and these are innate traits that you need to be born with.
Passion: This will drive motivation. If they are not passionate about their idea, then it will never work. They will not be able to see it through to success. Passion also gives the courage needed to go after what you want to do, giving up on the security of a constant income.
Humility: Successful entrepreneurs are not above doing any job required, especially until they can get the staff and support they need. They do not have the arrogance that keeps them from doing any job needed. From deliveries to packaging, they are ready to do anything necessary for their business.
Creativity: This is needed in big doses as it is needed in different contexts. As an entrepreneur, you need creativity mainly for two things – coming up with original ideas and for problem-solving. It is critical for finding different solutions to a variety of unforeseen problems as they arise. Being creative will allow you to stay ahead.
Eagerness to Learn: An entrepreneur will never give up on an opportunity to learn, and realizes that without learning, there is no advancement. They also realize that there is always something new they can learn; that no matter how much they know, they definitely do not know it all.
These are the traits that a person needs to be born with in order to be a successful entrepreneur. They cannot be taught, and even if you do try to learn them, it might be going against your grain, which will reflect in your work if you choose to be an entrepreneur. For example, if you are not a naturally motivated person, every day you will have that added struggle of motivating yourself, in addition to the mountain of existing struggles that you have as an entrepreneur.
Of course, there is plenty of concrete teachable knowledge that needs to be learned by an entrepreneur, such as business, finance, marketing, strategy and economics.
Other essential skills that can be learned are public speaking, networking, leadership, communications, strategic thinking, critical thinking and analytical skills.
But probably one of the most important things for an entrepreneur to be is a risk-taker. PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor, Peter Thiel, gave Mark Zuckerberg a piece of advice. He said, “In a world that’s changing so quickly, the biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.”
Whether you are born a risk-taker or not is debatable. Some people find themselves in situations where they have no choice but to take a risk. However, an entrepreneur is a serial risk-taker, and this goes back to being a certain type of person born with the innate traits needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
Some people believe you are born a blank slate, and whatever it is you become, it is because of learning and working. Other people believe that you are born to be a certain thing in life, and whatever happens, life will lead you to that.
If a Chinese child on their first birthday chooses a celery stick, it means they will be hard-working - perhaps that should be the object that is chosen by a future potential entrepreneur, an entrepreneur needs to work tirelessly for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day, no one is born anything. The beauty of children is their unlimited potential. Anyone can learn anything if they have access. However, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, you can probably learn everything, but it still takes a certain type of personality with specific traits to be a successful one.
About the author
Sima Barazi Haroun is the founder of Boom & Mellow, a multi-brand accessories and jewelry store. With over two decades of experience in the retail industry, Sima is passionate about entrepreneurship and has founded several successful multi-brand stores, and connected women in Dubai to jewelry and fashion from across the globe.