The term ‘entrepreneur’ has become embedded in our daily lingo and well known British entrepreneurs have assumed the same sort of celebrity status as footballers, actors and reality TV show participants.
Partly as a result of this exposure, becoming an entrepreneur has become a legitimate and - for many young people - a preferred career choice when leaving college or university.
Other reasons for the explosion in the number of young people starting out as entrepreneurs include the very practical one that there are fewer jobs in traditional industries and so there is growing graduate unemployment. This group are more eager to have control of their working lives and seek to achieve acceptable good work/life balance from the very start of their working careers. The huge advances in technology means that it is also cheaper and easier than ever to launch your own venture and grow it quickly and potentially globally.
So there is much in the young entrepreneur’s favour. We are all budding Mark Zuckerbergs with the potential to make billions if only we take the plunge with that brilliant idea we have been nurturing in the back of our mind. However, and this is the crucial point, for every business that succeeds, thousands of others will fail.
Every day at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation I see hundreds of profiles of aspiring young entrepreneurs. I am also lucky enough to meet equal numbers of successful entrepreneurs, many who are household names. From my perspective I see a number of traits that successful entrepreneurs have in common.
They are, without exception, obsessive and single-minded about their vision.
They are hugely resilient. Many have failed with businesses previously. Few make millions the first time around, but what a really successful entrepreneur does is learn from those mistakes, brush themselves off and start again with more knowledge and a better chance of success.
They will take risks and a leap of faith where more cautious souls would back off.
They are very good at networking and have a wide circle of people they can go to for help and advice.
They are excellent communicators and superb story tellers
Finally, they have huge self belief.
If you have all these qualities or are likely to develop them, becoming an entrepreneur may be the role for you.
The rewards can be abundant, but if you are not prepared to fail at least once and possibly several times in pursuit of your dream and you don’t have a total conviction about the merits of your business concept and your ability to make it happen, then pick a different career path because you will not succeed as an entrepreneur.
Neeta Patel is CEO of The New Entrepreneurs Foundation