Are you an entrepreneur ?


We are all different for good reasons. The world is better that way. To function best, society needs people of different aspirations, passions and proclivities.

It would be a mess if everyone were an athlete.

In fact, we need people who are best-suited as doctors to cure us when we are sick. We need the musically-gifted and the actors to entertain us. We need teachers to educate us . And we even need the beggar in the street to remind us of our blessings and incite compassion and humanity in us. It is what runs society, each and everyone following their passion and doing what they do best for the common benefit.

This universal symbiotic concept of higher social order is also present in economics as “comparative advantage”. It means that everyone benefits more if each focuses on what they do better than the rest. And just like we are not all musically-gifted, we do not all have the qualities of a successful entrepreneur. One might then ponder: “What does it take to be entrepreneurial ?”

As we are all different, to each their own story. Yet, here are some characteristics of an entrepreneur.

1-) An entrepreneur thinks different from the masses

Most successful entrepreneurs are rebels. They do not abide to a certain code of conduct just because everyone else does. I believe there are 2 types of people:

a-)There are those who like to be told what to do. These are the typical followers. Very often, they do not even stop and wonder why they are doing a certain thing. If you ask them, they will say: “it’s because everyone else is doing it”. These people can sometimes be your typical A -student who are very good at following the teacher’s orders.

b-) And there are those who question convention and think out of the box. These are the true independent thinkers. They are at the forefront of every innovation that ever happened on earth. Think about it, there is innovation because someone dared to challenge convention. These people are usually intellectually curious. They also tend to approach every problem from first principles. They do not assume a similar problem always has a similar solution . Instead they take their time and always think about a possible solution outside the norm.

2-) An entrepreneur likes to solve problems

What is entrepreneurship ? Some definitions assert that it is the process of starting companies. I do not agree.

I think entrepreneurship is all about solving problems to benefit humanity. When you find a real problem and start a company to solve it, you are an entrepreneur.

The wealth is nothing but the reward you get from society. It is a measure of the value you created, an indication of your contribution to the development of humanity. If you, however, start a company that does not solve a specific real problem, I call you a businessman, not an entrepreneur. In my mind, the later is more noble. The businessman is only interested in profit while the true entrepreneur cares about making things better.

3-) An entrepreneur is not afraid of risk

The entrepreneur understands risk more than your average individual. The truth, risk is everywhere. We cannot escape it. Living itself is a risk. You risk your life when you drive. You risk dying from food poisoning when you eat. You risk losing your creative genius when you go to school. We cannot escape risk. But we can learn not to let its fear take over our life. This is one secret only us entrepreneurs understand to the full extent. We never let risk thwart our interest in a project we believe in.

4-) An entrepreneur likes to take his destiny in his own hands

Everyone worries about their future. The fear of failure incites us to mitigate risks throughout life. We all want to succeed and enjoy the finer things in life. In a word, everyone is looking for freedom: freedom from financial worries, freedom from the fear of failure.

To many, school, diplomas and a job at a reputable company are the solution.

The entrepreneur, however, understands that the best way of dealing with fear of failure is to take his destiny in his own hands. That’s why true entrepreneurs do not waste too much time in school. They do not equate a job at Google with safety and freedom.

5-) An entrepreneur is tenacious

If there is a quality that makes the difference in entrepreneurship, it ‘s tenacity. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Likewise, companies take time to grow.

Things will be difficult.

You will be discouraged.

When nothing works, the weak-willed look for an exit. The skilled entrepreneur, however, looks for solutions . He welcomes the challenges.

6-) An entrepreneur has passion

If you do not have passion in what you do, you will be miserable. You have to be passionate about your idea to convince anyone to support it.

Besides, if you do not love your idea, you will lose all motivation to withstand the challenges that come your way.

7-) An entrepreneur is flexible

Technology is constantly changing. The market also. New ideas come up all the time and disrupt an entire industry, if not industries.

History provides us with countless examples of companies that were too stuck in their old habits to embrace the new. Such companies are destined for failure. The smart entrepreneurs however always keep an eye on the new technologies and trends. They implement necessary changes to their product or business model if necessary.

8-) An entrepreneur is always self-improving

To be successful at anything in life, self-improvement is a must. If you are not always learning something new and getting better at what you do then just give up. Successful entrepreneurs are always learning new stuff. They are always looking into a better way to do a certain thing, always looking to improve their performance. Eventually they mature and find what works best for them. Still, they keep learning new stuff. Usually, they are voracious readers.

9-) An entrepreneur thinks both short and long-term

I believe that the long-term strategy of a company is extremely important. Even in investments, the winners like Warren Buffett always think long-term. However, short-term is just as important. In fact, if you do not properly deal with the short-term, there will be no long-term. To be able to successfully execute on a 10-year objective, you have to first deal with the quarterly goal.

Now, do you think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur ?

Moussa Sarr,

Software Engineer and Entrepreneur

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