A recent ABA article talked about attorneys as entrepreneurs. The economy and quality of life concerns have both given rise to more attorneys “hanging out a shingle” as more attorneys, either unable to get a job in a firm or were laid off by firms forced to downsize, were drawn to starting up their own practice. The article had one interesting insight about a quality of most entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurs do not like risk. They seek to minimize risk in pursuit of their idea.” I gave that some pause because we generally think of entrepreneurs as risk-takers, people who throw caution to the wind. However, I work with entrepreneurs every day. They come to me to understand the potential pitfalls and to manage the perceived risk. They are willing to take risk if they see a reward for their effort and they feel there are steps they can take to control or minimize the risk. This is where an attorney can do their best work and provide significant value and return on investment (ROI). An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
Are you thinking of starting a business? Do you have what it takes? There are other qualities that most entrepreneurs share. Ask yourself these questions to explore if you have an entrepreneurial streak deep down:
Do you see opportunities or constraints? Entrepreneurs see “probortunities.”
- Are you optimistic? Tenacious? Entrepreneurs are willing to work hard, even in the face of challenge, because they see a positive outcome in the horizon.
- Are you comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty? Do you wake up wondering where the day will take you? Entrepreneurs are flexible and able to react to new situations without panic.
- Do you like or dislike rules? Entrepreneurs dislike rules, while most people find the presence of rules comforting.
- When presented with a crazy idea, do you look for value or dismiss it? Do you like to do things the orthodox way, or do you find yourself forging new paths? Do you question why things are done a certain way instead of just doing it that way because everyone else does?
- Are you passionate about your product or service? If you believe in your mission, failure is not an option.
- When things go wrong, is your first reaction to find blame or find a solution? Entrepreneurs are fixers, not blamers.
Consider these qualities and see where you stand. If you find yourself lacking in some of these areas, think about ways that you can cultivate them. It may be taking a class, reading a book, or consulting with successful entrepreneurs in your network. Consider it part of your professional development and make it a priority project.
What other qualities do you find in entrepreneurs? How do you find those qualities attributing to (or inhibiting) the success of the business?