Do you have visions of owning your own business someday?? Then you just might be an entrepreneur.
However, even if you fantasize about becoming your own boss, that doesn’t mean entrepreneurship is the answer— according to Gino Wickman, the innovative mind behind the groundbreaking Entrepreneurial Operating System, founder of EOS Worldwide, and author of the bestselling book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.
Gino wrote his most recent book, Entrepreneurial Leap: Do You Have What It Takes to Become an Entrepreneur? as the ultimate resource for budding entrepreneurs. It’s packed with wisdom that only someone with decades of business-building experience—someone like Gino Wickman—could offer.
As a business owner who has benefited from Gino’s expertise myself, I was thrilled to chat with him about everything entrepreneurship. Throughout our conversation, he discussed how aspiring entrepreneurs can learn if that life is right for them, and if so, what they can do to jumpstart their journey.
Are You Really an Entrepreneur? Confirm It!
Want to find out if entrepreneurship is right for you? Gino simplified this process by creating three important steps that any entrepreneur-in-the-making should take before making the big leap.
First off, it’s critical to actually “confirm” that you’re truly built for entrepreneurship. Frankly, Gino says it’s not the right for everyone, no matter how much you want it. He’d rather people accept their own destinies sooner than later—even if it’s not as an entrepreneur. He’s even developed an online assessment to help people determine if it’s right for them.
“I know it will break some hearts and that is not my intention,” Gino says. “But, increasing the success rate is also helping someone understand that they probably should not be taking the leap.
“You’re born with these traits. They can’t be taught. You have them, or you don’t. Lots of people want to be entrepreneurs. So, the idea is to do a self-discovery and discover if it’s right for you.”
So, what are these traits? Gino has found that there are six. They must be visionary, passionate, a problem solver, driven, a risk-taker, and responsible. “A true entrepreneur possesses those six essential traits,” says Gino. “Again, you’re born with them. They can’t be taught.”
Let’s break down these six traits into more detail:
A visionary is the person with overflowing ideas. They also envision how to make these ideas work. “You have the uncanny ability to connect the dots,” says Gino. “I always say somebody that possesses the visionary trait is able to see around corners.”
Passion both propels companies to the top, and pushes you through the toughest times. “When I look at successful entrepreneurs,” Gino says, “I really believe that at the root of their success is passion. Exactly where that passion lies remains up to you. It could be a passion for the product, service, desire to build an amazing company culture, or client experience.” Passion is your fuel.
No matter the issue, you’re always prepared to jump in and fix it. “Whenever there are setbacks,” Gino says, “you default to leaning in and solving it. When other people see problems, you see solutions. Every cloud has a silver lining to you.”
Don’t confuse being driven for passion. Passion is all about love for your service, product, clientele, etc. In contrast, drive is all about that competitiveness and desire to win. “You have this internal fire,” says Gino. “You’re self motivated. You hustle.”
There’s nothing safe about business ownership, so true entrepreneurs must feel comfortable taking risks and making hard decisions. “You don’t freeze when it’s time to make a tough decision,” Gino says. You’re also comfortable with the fact that sometimes, those decisions will be wrong.
Even the best entrepreneurs make bad decisions. What would you do if you made one? “There are two types of people in the world,” Gino says. “There are people that take responsibility when something goes wrong. Then there are people that default to blaming everyone else. True entrepreneurs take responsibility.”
If you genuinely possess these traits, at the very least, you were born with the right parts to make a great entrepreneur. That’s wonderful. But, that’s not all it takes to succeed.
After all, just because you have the right DNA for effective entrepreneurship doesn’t mean you’re going to like it.
A Glimpse At Your Entrepreneurial Future
Before anyone dives into building a business, Gino wants them engage in the second step of his process: Glimpse.
With over 25 years working with entrepreneurs, and as one himself, Gino knows the truth about business ownership. It’s an incredibly tough, relentless career choice. Even with all the right ideas, people, and passion, many companies still fail. And those that do succeed rarely become household names or Silicon Valley icons.
“I want to make sure that entrepreneurs-in-the-making realize that there is more to entrepreneurialism and starting a business than tech apps and billion-dollar unicorns,” Gino says. “That’s like, two percent of all the business options.”
In short, he wants every aspiring entrepreneur to get a realistic idea of what they’re getting into—the great days and the terrible ones.
The Entrepreneurial Nightmare
Let’s tackle the bad news first. If you can’t handle life as a business owner at the worst of times, then you’ll never make it to the better days.
“This is the unfortunate reality that most entrepreneurs live,” says Gino. “Being an entrepreneur is not all it’s cracked up to be.” Gino then digs into one possible nightmare scenario that most entrepreneurs will experience at some point in their careers. For others, it may encompass their entire career.
Gino describes a life of always waking up in the early hours just to catch up on work. They get to the office well before the workday technically begins. Once employees start arriving, they’re all disengaged with zero passion for the company. “They’re just showing up for a paycheck, looking to punch out at five, and get the hell out,” Gino says.
Without passion, the business owner is forced to pick up the slack and essentially do their employees’ jobs. “As a result,” Gino says, “They’re working 24/7 and burning the candle at both ends.”
Imagine an angry family at home, a non-existent social life, and perpetual exhaustion. They’re also barely making any money since burnt out leaders and apathetic workers likely won’t offer adequate services, products, or attention to clients.
“Sadly,” says Gino, “that’s the life that most entrepreneurs live. But then there’s the dream—and the dream is real.”
The Entrepreneurial Dream
Thankfully, that horrifying nightmare doesn’t have to be your future. For over twenty years, Gino has been helping people make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.
In this reality, the entrepreneur wakes up and heads to the office at their ideal time. When they arrive, every employee is engaged and excited for the day ahead. Their leadership team is full of passionate problem solvers who regularly come together to collaborate and prioritize the company’s needs.
They’re also turning a sizable profit that they can then distribute to themselves, their partners, and their team members.
They also have the space to continue thinking about their future for their company. Rather than struggle to stay afloat, they possess the energy and headspace for regular innovation.
“Then,” Gino says, “that entrepreneur shows up at home at the end of the day with plenty of energy and time for friends and family. There are the two scenarios. You choose which one you want.”
Think you’re ready? Great! But before you officially set off, Gino has advice on taking the entrepreneurial leap the right way.
The Path of a Successful Entrepreneur
You’ve now Confirmed that you’re an entrepreneur-in-the-making and caught a Glimpse of your business-owning future. Still in? Then it’s time for part three as you officially start down the “Path” of entrepreneurship—and it all starts with a vision.
Build Your Vision
Every great company has a vision. Gino says any aspiring entrepreneur must uncover their initial vision before launching their business.
This isn’t to say that every last detail should be mapped out. In fact, he’s quick to say that the majority of successful businesses don’t start with an in-depth business plan. Instead, your vision is the foundation that everything else builds upon.
Gino developed a set of thought-provoking questions designed to help entrepreneurs find their unique vision. “You’ve got to have a clear vision,” he says. “You owe this to your customers, your employees, your people and yourself.”
- What are you passionate about?
- What want or need are you fulfilling for your customer or client?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What’s the pricing structure for my product or service?
- What’s the most important goal to accomplish in the next 10 years?
- What will the business look like in three years?
- What do I have to accomplish in the first year?
- What are the 3–7 most important things to be accomplished in the next 90 days?
Now, find a quiet place, focus on the business you envision, and spend a couple of hours writing out your answers. “There’s your vision,” says Gino. You’ve just built the first stepping stone towards making your dream a reality.
At least once a year, but preferably every quarter, Gino suggests updating your vision. This is a living document. When asked how often he thinks about his visions—and more specifically his ten-year goal—Gino responds, “I see that goal in vivid color every night.”
And what is this ten-year goal that Gino thinks about every night? “Impacting a million entrepreneurs-in-the-making,” he says. Though this new journey of his has just begun, I think he’s already well on his way.
Learn More from Gino Wickman
This article just scratches the surface of Gino’s entrepreneurial knowledge. I highly recommend that anyone interested in entrepreneurship pick up Entrepreneurial Leap, and follow this one-of-a-kind business visionary.
If you’d like to hear our entire conversation, listen to all three parts on the donothing podcast. You’ll learn why he’s a huge advocate for mentorship, if he thinks aspiring entrepreneurs should attend college, what other critical mistakes business owners make, and so much more.
Also, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as have you keep up with my company imageOne. Learn about my mission to show business leaders how mindfulness can transform you and your business at www.donothingbook.com.