Being an entrepreneur is a trial by fire and having the right environment is critical.
By Caitlin MacGregor (Co-Founder,

There’s a lot more involved in becoming an entrepreneur than simply waking up one morning and saying “I want to work for myself.” Sure, anyone can say they would prefer to work in their own company, rather than punch the clock for someone else, but saying it and being able to do it are very different.

Running a startup means tackling new problems daily and finding ways to overcome obstacles with as little time, money and effort as possible. Being an entrepreneur often means being an ardent student of how other businesses solved their own problems, and then adapting those solutions to meet your own needs.

What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs build things. They organize, coordinate, and motivate others; they see a problem requiring a fix and they create a solution.

Many born entrepreneurs started paper routes, lemonade stands, or other business activities as children. They may have even started clubs or organizations in school because they saw a need, or created their own summer jobs because they identified a hole in the community.

While certain entrepreneurial skills, such as identifying which ideas will be most successful, can be learned, the qualities that make someone a successful entrepreneur have been proven to be largely inherent. There is little data to prove that problem solving abilities, creativity, flexibility, task management and follow through – all essential elements of a successful entrepreneur – can be acquired.

Where Experience Comes into Play

Being an entrepreneur is a trial by fire and having the right environment is critical. Entrepreneurs needs the space to spread their wings, take risks, and bite off more than they can chew.

Gaining experience by working in a startup before deciding to go it on your own can give you invaluable insight into the inner workings of the startup environment. It can also teach you a thing or two about handling the inevitable ups and downs; pressure and uncertainty; and to quickly identify holes that need fixing.

At startups, there is often more work than there are people or hours to accomplish it all. It is an ideal environment to gobble-up as much responsibility as you can handle. There, you can test yourself to see how much you like the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and underpaid. Read: don’t start your own restaurant to see if you can stand the heat in the kitchen. Instead, see if you can handle someone else’s work environment first.

Compensating for Missing Qualities

Some people are just born with the natural ability/talent that makes them well suited to entrepreneurial pursuits; some aren’t. If you have a burning passion to start a company, but lack the desired characteristics, all is not lost. Compensate by surrounding yourself with entrepreneurial minded co-founders/employees.

Team dynamics greatly compensate for and balance weaknesses. As long as everyone on the team is a good problem solver, at least one member is highly creative and the other has the follow through, chances are your business will do well.

Colleagues have to understand and appreciate each other for their individual strengths, and be willing to compensate for each other’s weaknesses. If the balance of the team is off, then you are likely to have a crippling problem: all creativity and no follow through, or no creativity and all follow through, could be a recipe for disaster.


Most entrepreneurs are born with specific qualities that give them the ability to succeed in business. There are some entrepreneurs, however, who have found success by surrounding themselves with people who do possess the innate qualities of an entrepreneur, or those whose qualities and abilities complement and balance their own.

Curious if you have the innate abilities of a successful entrepreneur? Take the test and find out!

Women 2.0 readers: Do you believe that entrepreneurs are born or made? Let us know who you are and what you’re working on in the comments.

About the guest blogger: Caitlin MacGregor is the Co-Founder of, a psychometric pre-employment assessment tool. Previously having worked in two other early-stage startups, she became quite experienced in hiring (and firing). Seeing how broken the process was she decided to start working on a platform that would ultimately make the hiring process more efficient and valuable. Follow her on Twitter at @caitmacgregor.