This article is also published on

We hear the word “entrepreneur” more and more these days, especially amongst younger audiences. Growing up in the golden age of technology and rapid global development, we teens and young adults are itching for innovation, eager to create the next big thing. But what exactly does it mean to be an “entrepreneur?” How can one break into business, and more importantly, how can one succeed? Worry not. I’ve heard many of these questions and discussions bounce around—they’ve also swirled around in my own head more than once—so I’ve collected a list of tips and insights into the lifestyle of an entrepreneur so that YOU can know exactly what to expect and prepare for. Read on to find out more!

The Basics

If this is your first time even hearing the word “entrepreneur,” that’s perfectly fine! Simply put, an “entrepreneur” is someone who creates businesses and embarks on new business ventures, sometimes with others. When you decide to be an entrepreneur,” that just means you are setting up a new business. Have you ever brought homemade bracelets to school to sell for a quarter each, distributed your snacks to friends in exchange for something else of value, or maybe even charged people for some casual dance lessons? That counts, too!

Fun fact: economists have always struggled to truly lay down an all-encompassing definition for “entrepreneurship,” so as an entrepreneur, you can really make the lifestyle and job whatever you’d like. Generally, entrepreneurs take advantage of resources, labor, and capital to build and market their own businesses, hire workers, and hopefully profit.

The Risks

As you may already know, entrepreneurship is widely perceived as a largely “high-risk/high-reward” field. A study by American Express OPEN reports that most of the full-time self-paying entrepreneurs were making around $70,000 every year, and some even hit it off really big and earn much more—think Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. The catch is that it’s very difficult to get there.

Alongside the obvious dangers of your business venture failing and losing you a lot of money and resources, not to mention the market losing out on the benefits of your new idea, going into entrepreneurship poses other risks to your personal life and well-being. Starting up a business takes time and energy, and especially in the beginning, you are likely to struggle financially and accumulate debt as well as stress. Your relationships may suffer, especially if your loved ones are not as invested in or understanding of your commitment to your enterprise. Even if your company does take off, the struggles don’t stop; you always need to be aware of scams and cybercrime.

This is by no means written to discourage you from pursuing entrepreneurship. Before diving straight in, it’s critical to understand the full scope of both the risks and benefits of your decision to enter into the industry. Luckily for you, success might be difficult, but it’s not impossible! There are a few core traits of good and successful entrepreneurs that you can adopt in your daily life, and hopefully they’ll help carry you further in your career!

The Key Traits

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you are aiming to achieve “self-made” success. You want to be someone entirely in charge of their own livelihood. You will be your own boss, as well as the boss of your employees, and the success of your business(es) rests on your shoulders. So, how do you do it? First and foremost, you must be willing to take the risk. Are you still feeling ambitious and determined and ready to fire, even after reading through all the risks described in the previous section? Do you feel a drive to pursue your goals, even when faced with countless adversities? Can you handle negative situations with patience and elegance? Then entrepreneurship may be for you!

Secondly, and arguably just as important, all successful entrepreneurs need to be innovative and creative. Your consistent overarching goal is to create something that the world hasn’t seen before, something that will attract national and global attention and grab the interest of potential hires, sponsors, investors, etc. An entrepreneur’s creativity allows them to plot effective business strategies and inspire people to get involved with their enterprise. Do you have a clear map in mind of where you want your company to be, and how you’re going to get there? In other words: do you have a vision?

As an entrepreneur, you also need to have a lot of self-discipline—much more than the average person. After all, you’re completely responsible for all of your progress, projects, team management, and so forth. “Self-discipline” encompasses many different behaviors, such as endurance, forethought, restraint, perseverance, and keeping a clear mind even in the midst of inconvenience, conflict, and high-stakes decisions.

Finally, because you’ll inevitably be working with a lot of people—and a lot of VERY DIFFERENT people at that—you’ll need to have a strong sense of empathy. Being able to truly understand and feel what other people are feeling, especially if they are working closely with you, will aid you greatly in company management and marketing.

The Education

Having read up to this point, you may be wondering: this all sounds great, but how do I actually break into entrepreneurship? Do I have to go to school for it, or take any outside classes? 

You can go to school for it if you want to, but it isn’t the only path to success. If you’re planning to attend college, not every college has an entrepreneurship major—but many do (Note that the entrepreneurship major is different from the business major). Even if you get your degree and then decide you don’t actually want to start your own company (yet or ever), having a degree in entrepreneurship under your belt can come in handy in a variety of other ways. You’ll have gained valuable skills in effectual reasoning, business management, fundraising and marketing, researching and reporting, and company recruiting. You can still land a great job doing mid-level management or sales, and maybe even as a teacher—not necessarily OF entrepreneurship, but just introducing core subjects to students through the LENS of entrepreneurship. So, if any of these fields appeal to you, it might be worth it to try working towards an entrepreneurship degree!

Another possible path to take is “going to school” for entrepreneurship, but not necessarily majoring in it. Business, finance, marketing, economics, communications, and even subjects like computer science and environmental science, are all great major options that teach relevant skills. Business is an especially competitive and popular major, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs, because it gives the advantage of upward mobility, and hones skills necessary for effective marketing, networking, and strategizing. If you want to get a degree, but not in entrepreneurship, you could also major in the field that your business wants to break into, whether that be art or editing or accounting; whatever your university has available.

Lastly, another answer to the question, “Do I need to go to entrepreneur school” is: absolutely not! As you probably know, many entrepreneurs have been able to reach success without finishing school. Obtaining a major can certainly be helpful, especially if your foray into entrepreneurship doesn’t end up working out, but it’s not necessary at all for success.

If these traits and tasks sound attractive to you, then maybe entrepreneurship is for you! At any rate, it may be worth it to try out a small business venture with a couple of friends, and see if you have what it takes to become a full-fledged entrepreneur.

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Leave a Reply