Section One: Entrepreneurial Characteristics


People with entrepreneurial qualities and skills tend to enjoy the challenges, the hard work and the success of self-employment. This section will help you determine which entrepreneurial characteristics you possess.

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Successful entrepreneurs are usually described as follows:

Innovative, creative
Flexible, versatile
Positive thinkers
Moderate risk takers

It is important to assess your own entrepreneurial characteristics. Every person is different and will have certain entrepreneurial characteristics that are stronger and others that are less developed. An honest assessment of your entrepreneurial characteristics can help you to identify your strengths and to identify areas that need improvement.

Click on Worksheet 1.1  to assess your own entrepreneurial characteristics.



The Deadly Dozen – Entrepreneurial and Small Business Myths


Myth #1
I’ll be rich from starting my own business.

Most business owners do not become rich. In fact, a recent report by The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses indicates that median family incomes of employers and self-employed individuals was $39,349 compared to $52,092 for families headed by paid employees in 2005.

Myth #2
I’ll have more control over time.

While it is true that small business owners control their time; customers, employees and other business demands often dictate when work is done. The end result is that small business owners often have little control over their own time.

Myth #3
I can get grants and incentives from the government to start my business.

The government does support small business development and encourages new business starts. Governments recognize the growing importance of small businesses to the economy. However, government support of small businesses is often by providing information services to individuals considering small business as a career. There are very few financial incentives – or grants – to assist new entrepreneurs from the public sector.

Myth #4
I’ll be successful in business because I can undercut my competition and offer better quality and service.

Many new business owners underestimate their competitors= strengths. It may be easy to recognize weaknesses in other businesses but the competition exists because they are doing something right. Small businesses are rarely able to compete on price, quality and service against larger, and more established businesses. Small businesses often excel at quality and service but need to charge as much or more than their competitors in order to remain profitable.

Myth #5
Market research is a waste of time.

Failure to conduct thorough and complete market research before starting a business is a recipe for disaster. Business concepts need to be researched to determine whether a bona fide market opportunity exists. The strengths of the competition need to be analyzed and strategies developed to ensure a competitive edge.

Without research, the entrepreneur is flying blind with little or no information to make informed business decisions.

Myth #6
Because I’m a small business owner, I can make quick decisions and take advantage of market opportunities.

Small business owners can often recognize market opportunities and decide to pursue them quicker than larger competitors.

However, small businesses often lack the necessary resources – capital, marketing plans, sales expertise, and distribution channels – to capitalize on these opportunities. Consequently, large companies with more resources are often more effective at capitalizing on these opportunities even though they may be slower in making decisions and entering the market.

Myth #7
I can do everything myself.

Perhaps it is over confidence or simply the attempt to save money that drives many small business owners to believe they can do everything themselves. Rarely does one person have the diverse talents and skills to do all the tasks required in operating a small business. Successful entrepreneurs actively seek out the expertise and advice of others to assist them.

Myth #8
I can balance my work and home life more effectively by being my own boss.

The demands of owning and operating a small business often require entrepreneurs to work longer hours than employees. This can make it challenging to balance business demands with home and family responsibilities.

According to a recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, twenty-six per cent of business owners usually work more than fifty-five hours per week compared to only three per cent of paid employees.

Myth #9
Starting a business is easy.

Starting a business is very demanding – emotionally, financially and often physically. It is demanding on the entrepreneur, friends and family. Entrepreneurs frequently have less time for family and leisure activities.

Myth #10
Customers will want to buy my product or service based on the product or service itself.

Products and services require carefully constructed marketing plans and sales strategies before they are accepted and purchased by customers.

Myth #11
I can save money by starting to operate my business from home.

Keeping start-up costs under control is critical for new businesses. Consequently, many entrepreneurs are tempted to start their businesses by operating from home to save money.

However, the savings on facility costs can often be offset by the increased marketing and sales efforts associated with operating a business from home. Moreover, the many distractions at home can lead to less efficient use of time.

While operating a business from home may be suitable for some, beware of the hidden costs of the home business.

Myth #12
I don’t need a business plan.

Starting a business without a business plan is like starting a journey without a road map. The process of preparing a business plan allows the entrepreneur to make strategic decisions about the business before starting. This minimizes the possibility of costly errors once the business is launched.