The Mind of the Entrepreneur

Another extremely successful entrepreneur and ever-younger looking face has popped up on your TV. You blurt out to the person next to you, “that could be me”. But could it?

Most likely, you know at least one person who works for a start-up. With the growing tech industry and Silicon Valley startups paving the way, it’s not as far-fetched of an idea as it used to be. With the internet and social media as tools, it’s easier than ever before to get new products or business out into the world. Enormous amounts of wealth are being made and it seems to be in grasps. Among my friends, most of us have at least considered starting or working for a small company. But in reality, it’s not easy for most to take such a financial risk. Some see vast potential but others see glaring warning signs. We all can dream but what are the personality traits of the people who do make that leap into entrepreneurship?

Foremost, you have to be an optimist to be an entrepreneur especially based the impending failures and odds of success. Barry Moltz, author of the book, You Need to Be a Little Crazy says, “It is not a question of whether you will fail as an entrepreneur, it is simply a question of when and how.” People who deal with failure well are more willing to risk investments. Entrepreneurs have an innate need to achieve and have a higher threshold when it comes to throwing in the towel. Some see this as unhealthy behavior but they may argue it’s all worth it if the risks pay out. According to researchers, people who are energetic, motivated and creative are more likely to become entrepreneurs. Their desire to be their own boss can be large reason why they have started their endeavor. The best have strong leadership qualities and every successful business has one at the helm. Entrepreneurs think large and dream big but their personalities may backfire. Under the surface, there are psychological issues that can become barriers as well.

Small business owners are generally satisfied with the choices they’ve made. Although in a recent Gallop Poll, the majority would not recommend starting your own business to a young person. Entrepreneurship comes with great stress and this can cause some serious health issues. Stress on the body increases risk of cardiovascular disease. Additional issues can build from neglecting health, diet, exercise and sleep. It’s a tough living, especially in the beginning when there’s less stability and more at stake. Michael A. Freeman, psychiatrist and former entrepreneur, says based on their personalities, entrepreneurs are also “more likely to have stronger emotional states.” Thus they are more prone to depression, significant anxiety and suicidal thinking. If you are looking for help with your depression, the best solution to is to seek a mental health professional and look for support among family and friends.

The likelihood of taking a life plan risk is a situational and environmental factor as well. From what I’ve observed as a second generation Chinese American, first generation immigrants can feel a need to make a foot hold. There’s more at risk if you’re coming from another country. Not only are you thinking about immediate success but the financial success for the future generations as well. In this situation, one might be more likely to opt for a safer career. It also depends if you live in a supportive environment that nurtures entrepreneurship. Urban areas that provide things like loans, business services, and the presence of universities and training encourages entrepreneurs. Finally, there are those who are under less risk due to a financial safety net. Someone who already has established a successful business, or has a nest egg from inheritance or previous work experience is more likely to branch out and invest their money in higher-risk situations.

Entrepreneurs are the people who say, “I have a better idea,” whether they actually do is another question. Not everyone can be a visionary like Elon Musk, the real life Tony Stark. Entrepreneurship is difficult and many don’t find the success. Not only do they take on financial risks but health risks too. Risks are essential to innovation though. We can’t further society without those bold enough to take them.

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