Q&A: Out with the doubt

Robert Franklin
of Floreat, Western Australia asks:

I’ve been toying with the idea of going into business for an embarrassingly long time. I’m starting to feel like it’s now or never. So, my New Year’s resolution was to work out if business is for me. What type of person goes into business? What background offers a better chance of success and why?

Kenelm Tonkin
, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers:

Occasionally surveys of business owners do reveal some common threads in their backgrounds. If a rule of thumb could be applied, and this is difficult, entrepreneurs tend to be in their 30s when they start, with a decade under the belt working for others in a variety of jobs. They tend to have strong emotional support at home and an assertive personality. There are plenty of exceptions and the truth is that entrepreneurs are drawn from such varied backgrounds.

Whether these differences are in age, gender, experience, income, education, ethnicity, family, class, location or industry, two things are certain: entrepreneurs neither “toy” with the idea of going into business nor start by “finding” themselves through a New Year’s resolution. They are obsessive, driven and stubborn. Emeritus professor Howard H. Stevenson of Harvard Business School condensed the entrepreneurial trait like this: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

For me, the key phrases are “pursuit of opportunity” and “without regard”, in that entrepreneurs act and do so in a visionary, almost defiant manner. They imagine, then do. For them, the fun is seeing if a seemingly impossible dream can be made true. It is the scratching of a persistent, creative itch. The satisfaction is in being told it can’t be done, but doing it anyway. There’s something obstinate yet admirable about the entrepreneur’s boldness.

Procrastination and doubt are simply not good places to start a new year, let alone a new venture.
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