Maybe those dreams of becoming an astronaut or rocket scientist didn’t come true, but many successful business owners exhibited signs of the entrepreneurial spirit early in life. While you and your parents may not have picked up on them at the time, looking back it’s clear: You were a born entrepreneur.
Here are 10 signs that you’ve always had innate business ownership talents. You may want to look for these signs in your own kids and nurture their entrepreneurial tendencies.
Don’t worry if your kids don’t seem to fit the entrepreneurial mold. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs were high school dropouts.
10 signs you were a born entrepreneur
Looking back on your childhood, see if you exhibited these classic, budding entrepreneurial behaviors.
1. You never had to be reminded about your homework.
Procrastination and entrepreneurship are like oil and water. However, you had the makings of a small business owner if you were the kid who always buckled down to get that science project done in advance. Time management was never an issue, and you didn’t need a looming deadline for motivation.
If you spot this attribute in your children, they’ll likely continue along this positive path – and an occasional acknowledgment of their time-management prowess won’t hurt.
2. You loved group work.
You were the natural leader in any group project and had a knack for matching everyone’s strongest skills with the tasks at hand. To this day, you get a rush when putting together a dream team.
If you notice your child exhibiting leadership abilities, such as taking the lead with group projects, applaud their initiative but also look for signs of “bad leadership.” Nobody is a perfect-born leader, and micromanagement is better addressed early.
FYI: Entrepreneurs need high-performing teams to help make their visions a reality. Habits of high-performing teams include regular goal-setting, effective communication and a problem-solving mindset.
3. You were always picked first in gym class.
This doesn’t mean that a nonathlete who was always selected last for kickball can’t be a great entrepreneur. However, if you have various skills – including athleticism – you naturally stand out from the crowd.
Many successful entrepreneurs have a slew of diverse passion projects. The better you are at several things, the better your odds of operating a successful business. If you notice this about your child, teach them humility and modesty.
4. You never took the easy route.
Even if you could choose to take electives that were “easy” for you in high school, you mixed it up. You wanted to learn about accounting, woodworking and dance all at the same time. Entrepreneurs are compelled to learn about various things and not just rely on their strengths.
If you see that your child’s schedule looks like a mess with no real core, that’s a good thing. Check out what other electives are offered, and talk to them about how they’ll shake things up even more next term.
5. You knew when to call it quits.
Some children keep taking saxophone lessons for years because they don’t want to disappoint their teacher, parents or whoever’s acceptance is essential. However, if you decided to tell your caregivers you’re no longer interested in an activity once its term is up, that bodes well for an entrepreneurial future.
If your children sample activities instead of sticking to just one club or sport, respect their decision to try something new.
6. You always had your nose buried in a book.
Not all leaders are naturally extroverted. In fact, some of the best business owners are bookish, reserved or introverted. If you are quiet but studious, curious and talented in other realms, you can turn that into a great entrepreneurial foundation – especially in the digital age.
Don’t force your child to feel like they need to change their personality to be successful or liked; they can find success being entirely themselves.
7. You never settled for mediocrity.
You were constantly analyzing every aspect of yourself. As a result, you consistently worked to achieve greater heights in everything you did, including academics, sports and relationships.
Mediocrity wasn’t – and isn’t – an option. You must constantly strive for the next goal – even doing something that scares you.
You always pushed boundaries, had the confidence to make tough decisions and worked through all-nighters to better the world around you.
It’s crucial to note that “never settling” doesn’t mean “never failing.” Entrepreneurs can fail many times, but their setbacks only keep them from settling. Here are some successful examples:
- Before becoming a bestseller, Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek was rejected by 25 publishers.
- Richard Branson launched 400 companies before founding Virgin Galactic.
- James Dyson failed a whopping 5,126 times creating prototypes before the uber-successful Dyson vacuums were introduced to the market.
Encouraging your child to “never settle” doesn’t mean their schedule must be filled with high-profile events like skydiving and marathons. Even small, daily challenges can encourage creativity.
8. You appreciated feedback.
Consistent with self-reflection, entrepreneurs can take constructive criticism well. They see criticism as another task that needs solving. Plus, feedback from others can help them grow to become even more successful.
Children with this trait are good listeners, speak their minds and will eventually have the confidence to provide constructive feedback without being condescending to others.
9. You were organized.
Entrepreneurs need all the brainpower they can muster to solve the world’s problems and constantly improve themselves to continue fixing more issues. For all this, organization is key.
Entrepreneurs often wear similar clothes, eat the same foods, and have a scheduled daily routine. While it may seem boring to outsiders, entrepreneurs choose consistency to conserve brain energy. However, they can change their routines if they discover a better option.
If you spot consistency and organization in your child’s daily activities, it’s a sign they’re equipped to handle bigger things.
10. You had a hard time sleeping.
Born entrepreneurs are natural thinkers and may have a hard time winding down at the end of the day.
While being your own boss is the American dream, entrepreneurs often fall into lapses of insomnia. Running a business can boost workplace stress because of irregular paychecks, long hours and making all the decisions solo.
If you find yourself complaining to your friends that your child never sleeps, they may be accomplishing more than trying to throw a wrench in your day: They may have active brains that have a hard time turning off.
Tip: To work smarter – not harder – as an entrepreneur, and to create a positive work-life balance, take more breaks, delegate, and take care of your body.
Born vs. made entrepreneurs
While the debate over whether entrepreneurs are born or made rages on, the good news is that even if you don’t have “entrepreneur DNA,” you can still be successful at starting a business.
Entrepreneurs make a path for themselves. The road may be laced with failures, but they always get back up. They have a steadfast work ethic and the confidence to keep creating. Successful enterprisers engage in all aspects of their businesses, staying well-rounded and becoming lifelong learners.
You don’t have to inherit a business to run one successfully. While born entrepreneurs may have an easier time slipping into the role, made entrepreneurs leverage their passions, knowledge and experience to find solutions to everyday problems.
To quote American physicist Richard Feynman, “No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it.” So whether you fall into the born or made entrepreneur category, use your unique vision to create solutions to problems.
Larry Alton contributed to the writing and research in this article.