I was at dinner with a friend the other night and she mentioned an invite she’d received to spend New Year’s Eve “rubbing elbows with entrepreneurs.” I joked that if she came to my house on New Year’s Eve, she could rub elbows with entrepreneurs there (I thought myself quite hilarious when I said that).

It made me stop and think, though. How many entrepreneurs are in Chicago? Are we soon to become a hot bed for start-ups and technology companies?

Boulder, Colo., reportedly is a hotbed for tech start-ups. And who can blame those entrepreneurs? I’d want to live there, too.

Austin, Texas, with the annual SxSW, Whole Foods, DellLivestrong, and others is another hotbed.

Is Chicago soon to be added to the list?

An economy like we’ve had in the past few years is a great time to see whether or not people have what it takes to become entrepreneurs. Not only do people who are laid off find innovation in crisis, but their skills are quickly tested.

Skills such as persuasion, leadership, and personal accountability.

Entrepreneurial Skills

A recent study from Target Training International shows those three key traits, among others, are what makes an entrepreneur.

In fact, they say if an entrepreneur excels in these areas, there is a 90 percent likelihood they will build not one, but multiple organizations (otherwise known as serial entrepreneurs).

The study goes on to say:

In contrast to ephemeral notions that entrepreneurial success comes as a result of perfect timing meeting brilliant ideas in a cosmic moment of alignment, this research indicates entrepreneurially successful people are successful for a reason — that many of them highly display certain personal skills.

Do You Have the Skills?

The interesting thing about this study is it highlights skills that are not inherent. They are things that can be learned, developed, and honed throughout your career. If you have the inkling to build companies from scratch, consider these things.

Persuasion. Can you convince people to join your mission? Do you deliver powerful presentations? Can you get people to say yes to implement, what may seem, crazy ideas?

Leadership. Do people take risks to support your vision? Are you competitive? Have you been criticized for being too competitive?

Personal accountability. This is a big one. I hear my peers say quite often, “I can’t grow because no one is there to hold me accountable.” You have to do this one on your own. Are you recognized for achieving results when others could not? Are you criticized for holding people accountable (we have a client who calls me the accountability task master).

Goal orientation. Do you set SMARTER goals? Are you known for overcoming obstacles? Are you most productive when working with others to achieve goals?

Interpersonal skills. Do you get along well with people? Do you consider other people key to your greatest accomplishments? Can you calm people who are emotionally upset?

These are the types of questions the study asked to discover the key traits associated with entrepreneurs.

If you didn’t answer yes to each of these questions, don’t fret! Because these are all learned skills, you now have some goals for 2013.

A version of this first appeared in my weekly Crain’s Chicago Business column.

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Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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