Last year, Forbes ran a story that predicts the workforce will be 50 percent entrepreneurial in the next 10 years.
The story was in reaction to an Upwork and Freelancers Union survey that shows nearly half of millennial workers are already freelancing.
It also said the majority of workers will freelance by 2027, which set off a string of articles and discussions around the web about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone who freelances will become an entrepreneur, but we are very quickly moving to a world where people begin to take charge of their own destinies.
And, while you don’t necessarily work for yourself as an entrepreneur (you have employees and clients and vendors and partners to answer to), the idea that you call the shots and design your own flexibility is highly attractive.
A friend and I were just talking yesterday about how unemployable we both are.
I could lose both of my businesses and be bankrupt and I still wouldn’t go back to work for someone. Put on clothes and commute every day? No, thanks.
I’d take the risk to build something else. Fast.
Which is the base definition of an entrepreneur.
The dictionary describes an entrepreneur as:
A person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money or one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
Note both definitions have the words “business” and “risk”.
When you take on building a business and are willing to risk a few things to get there, you’ve become an entrepreneur.
But business and risk aren’t the only things that make one an entrepreneur.
According to Investopedia, you must also have the following skills:
- Passion and motivation
- Not afraid to take risks (there it is again!)
- Self-belief, hard work, and disciplined dedication
- Adaptable and flexible
- Product and marketing knowledge
- Strong money management
- Effective planning skills
- The right connections
- Exit preparedness
- Ability to question themselves
As it turns out, money management is one of those skills you learn really (I mean, really) fast.
You either learn it or you don’t have a business to be able to call yourself an entrepreneur.
Do You Have the Skills to be an Entrepreneur?
But the interesting thing about the rest of these skills is that they are not inherent.
They are things that can be learned, developed, and honed throughout your career.
If you are going to join the majority of workers who will freelance in the next 10 years, consider if you want to do that on the side or if you want to be an entrepreneur.
The following questions will help guide you:
- 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 like, 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. Be an accountability task master for yourself. Or let me do it! I’ll do it!
- 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?
If you answered “no” to any of these, don’t fret! It doesn’t mean you can’t be an entrepreneur or that you won’t be successful as one.
It simply means you have some skill development and learning to do.
Work on Your Entrepreneurial Skills Now
One of my biggest challenges has always been optimism.
Not that I’m not generally optimistic, but I’m also incredibly cynical.
So, when I looked at the interpersonal skills questions, I gave myself a C-.
I knew I had to work on not being so cynical, and on calming people who are emotionally upset.
At the same time, I hired Laura Petrolino, which ended up being one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.
I didn’t realize she would help me with my interpersonal skills, but she’s been invaluable from that perspective.
Not only does she look at everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) with rainbows and unicorns in her eyes, she has a very diplomatic way of handling conflict.
(She once sent me a mug she’d made for me with a rainbow and a gun on it—or rainbow killer, as I’m known around the office.)
In the past five years, she has taught me more about interpersonal skills than I could have ever learned on my own.
If you are going to join the freelance workforce and aren’t afraid of building a business and taking some risk, start on your entrepreneurial skills now.
Get the help you need. Continue your education. Find mentors and advisors who have expertise where you need skill development. And hire people who will make you a better entrepreneur.