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5 Signs You Were Born an Entrepreneur

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 2/03/2016 Khuram Hussain

Are entrepreneurs born or made? Many of the qualities that combine to create an entrepreneurial mindset are not always viewed as positive attributes, particularly during childhood, adolescence and while in formal education. But these specific signs demonstrate that an individual has the early makings of a self starter, and someone who may end up carving their own path outside the traditional corporate system. These qualities in a person's character emerge early, and entrepreneurs will identify with having these signals of their future career, from a very young age. When you look back on your childhood do you recall demonstrating these key characteristics?
1. Disregard and questioning of authority.
This is a big one. An entrepreneurial mindset means constantly questioning why, not being comfortable with the current system, and seeking alternative solutions. These qualities do not rest easy with others in positions of authority and entrepreneurs in the making often find themselves dropping out of school, frequently in trouble with teachers, or frustrated by the seeming lack of imagination within traditional education. Such notables as Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Coco Chanel, Oprah and Sergey Brin actively shunned schooling in order to listen to their own authority.
2. Appetite for risk.
It may not be something admitted freely by well known CEOs but among founders there is a strong appetite for risk, and not necessarily within society's rules. This appetite can be demonstrated in multiple ways. When building a company it's the choice to give up security and financial stability in order to roll the dice and pursue your vision. But prior to starting a company, entrepreneurs will have showed active signs of risk taking. In short, when looking for attributes of an entrepreneur in the making, what is traditionally seen as risk taking behavior will very often be prevalent.
Elon Musk is a perfect example of risk taking behavior defining the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2008, at the lowest point for the U.S. economy, Musk's electric car company Tesla, seemed close to destruction. Rather than closing the doors to the business, Musk doubled down and invested personally his last $35 million in cash. This seemingly irrational risk paid off and Tesla is now a $2.5 billion company, and held up as a leader in sustainable energy solutions.
3. Belief in new possibilities outside of rules and societal structure.
A quality that sets founders apart from their peers is the 'anything is possible' mentality. Where many have a need to find coherence with reality, rules and set behaviour, entrepreneurs are comfortable asking 'what if...?' It is this ability for creative problem solving combined with an aptitude to disregard commonly held beliefs and search for higher ground that means entrepreneurs become trailblazers by creating new verticals and disrupting long established industries. By playing by the rules and sticking to what already exists, an entrepreneur recognises that the upside is limited. Only by imagining entirely new structures and platforms is opportunity limitless.
4. Empathy.
To build a product or solution useful to thousands and even millions of people, an entrepreneur must be empathetic. Not only do you need to put yourself in your user or customer's shoes, but to anticipate their preferences and reactions ahead of the market. At a young age this can be viewed as intuition, having strong gut instincts and the ability to read others. It is an innate quality that can be developed although not necessarily learned and certainly comes more easily to some. While Mark Zuckerberg may not strike everyone as the most empathetic of entrepreneurs, he was able to skillfully preempt human desire, and even obsession, for an entirely new behavior which came to be called social networking.
5. Story telling.
When you were young were you able to convince others to come with you on made up adventures? Were you able to get out of trouble using the powers of your imagination and story telling? These qualities later manifest as charisma and the ability to compel others and lead. This becomes truly important as startup fundraising, team building and partnerships are in practice emotional rather than rational. A top entrepreneur will know how to convince an investor to commit, an employee to jump ship and join his or her team, and an established partner to take a bet on a young company. Where economics exists in theories, life and entrepreneurship exist in practice and much comes down to the persuasive nature of a good CEO, rather than the rationale or logic involved.
For example, you are an angel investor and are aware that 92% of startups fail in their first three years. But charismatic founders with strong narratives are able to surmount the odds and raise money based on creating excitement among investors. This is almost wholly emotional. Logic and rationale play a smaller role than you may anticipate, and how an entrepreneur makes their audience or investor feel becomes all important.
Do you agree? Share in the comments whether you believe entrepreneurs are born with these specific 5 qualities.

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