Flickr photo via Chris M.

I meet a lot of people who want to be an entrepreneur, but don’t really have the signs that they’d make a good one.

See, the first thing you have to understand about being an entrepreneur is that it isn’t sexy. You aren’t really working for yourself.  You’ll have to build a business from scratch. The sacrifices will be huge…but so are the rewards.

That’s probably why lots of people are attracted to it. But only true entrepreneurs will endure it.

So if you are wondering if you are an entrepreneur at heart, these seven signs should help you out:

Fired from every corporate job?

Are you an ambitious, driven man or woman desperate to contribute to a company only to be frustrated or ignored. You want to help the company become bigger and better and have lots of ideas on how to do that…

But it just seems nobody cares.

Author Neil Patel

You also have lots of comments about how the company is run, recommendations on how to improve it and suggestions to make people more productive and profitable. The trouble is the corporation is going in one direction and doesn’t care what you have to say about it.

To make matters worse, you’re outspoken and confident with your ideas. But when you tell somebody they are wrong it doesn’t go over well as you are in a place that doesn’t tolerate conflict.

If you don’t get fired, you’ll at least be disciplined for your overbearing and passionate commitment to innovation. And probably more than just one time. More than likely you’ll figure out that you should probably leave before you do get fired.

Ideas won’t stop coming

Speaking of innovation, you will also know you are an entrepreneur if you are constantly generating ideas.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night scrambling for a piece of paper because you just thought of the perfect idea to fix a particular problem?

Are you constantly using the voice memo feature of your phone while you are driving into work?

Do you find yourself writing on the steamed-over shower door? Are you always writing on the back of napkins? Do your friends ask you to slow down because you are overwhelming them with your ideas?

If so, then you are probably an entrepreneur.

Security and peace doesn’t concern you

Do you like challenges and risks? Entrepreneurship might be for you (Everest photo via Wikipedia)

If you’re an entrepreneur, you are probably a risk-taker. You’re not really interested in the same old thing and you get bored really easy.

You may like to gamble with big money or bungee jump off of the side of 200 foot high bridges. Perhaps you think climbing Mount Hood is okay, but climbing Mount Everest…now that’s cool! 

Adventure is clearly in your blood!

You also like the attention of the press, the tension of the deadlines, the traveling and the busy office. You are truly energized by all of this. In fact, you probably think you’d die if you didn’t have all that stress.

If that describes you, then you are probably an entrepreneur.

You are on the right side of crazy

Entrepreneurs are a little crazy (Bill Murray in What about Bob?)

It’s said that investors look for people who are on the edge. I don’t know if there is any truth to that, but if you look at the people who are successful entrepreneurs, they do tend to be a little crazy.

Think about it…entrepreneurs come up with crazy ideas. They are the ones looking at the establishment and saying: “This is not right. We can do it better. Way better”

They’re solutions seem a little silly, but they don’t care. They’re also a little crazy to think that they could pull it off.

Fortunately we live in a country that encourages innovation, but even so, people can still think your idea is dumb. You have to be a little thick-skinned and crazy to forge ahead in spite of that negativity.

Take recent startups like Airbnb, Stripe or Hipmunk. The founders behind these companies saw better ways to satisfy people’s needs… ways that other people did not see, or if they did, did not have the courage to pull it off… and did whatever it took to satisfy those needs.

You like making money

Entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily greedy, they just like making money. You could say they are motivated by the thought or challenge of making money.

Most entrepreneurs I know had this desire to make money from a very young age. I know that I did. I was a sophomore in high school when I caught the bug. I was making six figures before I graduated, and while I let it go to my head for a little while, I realized it wasn’t so much the money that I enjoyed, but it was the challenge.

This is true for entrepreneurs. If you are one, you tend to look at things with an eye for profit. You have a good head for numbers and you can smell a good investment a mile away. People also probably come to you for financial or investment advice.

You live in an entrepreneur friendly environment

The crowd at a past Ignite Seattle event. (Randy Stewart photo, via Flickr.)

Entrepreneurs are drawn to other entrepreneurs. They enjoy rubbing shoulders with like minded people. If that’s you, then you probably already live in a startup-friendly city like Seattle or Silicon Valley.

Being in the right place with the right people can help turn your idea into a business. You have to be in the center of where everything is going on. If you live in an entrepreneur-friendly city, you are bound to run into investors, influencers and media people when you go out for coffee or a cocktail after work.

It’s not enough being 30 minutes away. You have to be in the center. Otherwise you won’t be included in many things.

If I wasn’t in Seattle I wouldn’t be involved in as many angel investments. Or if my mentor didn’t live above me, I wouldn’t learn nearly as much from him.

You cannot find anything else to do

You know that you are entrepreneur when you’ve heard all the warnings about this lifestyle and still want to do it. What kind of warnings am I talking about? Well, here are a few:

  • Punishing 80-hour work weeks
  • Grueling stress of trying to hit deadlines so you don’t upset your investors
  • Hair pulling that comes with managing people day in and day out
  • Gut-wrenching uncertainty that your product will actually do what you say it does
  • Ugly response you’ll get from customers on launch day

Wanting to become an entrepreneur deserves some serious soul searching. There are a lot of sacrifices if you choose this lifestyle and you need to know if you have the right personality to deal with it all. In fact, if you can find something else to do with, I’d recommend it.

However, I really don’t think people choose to be an entrepreneur. I actually believe that it chooses you. If you are meant to be an entrepreneur, you will find your way into it.


Being an entrepreneur is more than just working for yourself. It’s working to build a profitable, sustainable business that another person or company eventually wants to buy or you’ll have to take it public. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll know it.

What other signs indicate that a you might be an entrepreneur?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.

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  • Harsh Mahajan

    Well i dont know whether i have all the qualities which the author says but i truly love to take risks, do some crazy things, take risks, making money n ya m little work addicted person so i hope i become successful entrepreneur someday…

  • Marco

    I think these are all signs that you might want to be an entrepreneur. Def not indicative of you being a good fit for entrepreneurship. Went to school with tons of folks who had these qualities took a brief swing at entrepreneurship and then ran for the hills once they realized they couldn’t eat out every night anymore. Conclusion: most of them went back into finance.

  • Shailesh Tripathi

    Really cool Neil sir, You are at your best when the subject of entrepreneurship comes on your mind. I’m impressed from all and also the pics elaborating ideas.

  • Michael ‘Luni’ Libes

    #8, You don’t give up.  You are an eternal optimist.  You don’t take “no” for an answer.  You accept criticism, and turn it into new ideas and new paths forward, instead of any thoughts of giving up.

  • Steven Chayer

    Oh boy, you got me pegged!  l am an entrepreneur and I am blessed with every single quality you’ve listed.This is the second article l’ve read of yours nor. Patel and I enjoy your writing very much.  Keep on contributing, please.

  • Travelersintech

    I am surprised that you would mention an app that has a cartoon character, a map, a Gantt chart and a data entry hotel search – that has all been done many many years ago. In fact most of it is quite 80’s technology.  Not sure why investors fall for this or why it would even be on the “innovative” “geek” or any other tech keyword list for that matter. 

  • Jag

    This is fcking so true. Am stucked in fcking Europe the Continent for sigar-shops

  • Ileezhun

    Loved it. First of all the first one applies to me first. And 2,3 and 7th as well. I was confident enough with what I’m doing right now. But at the bottom of my heart, I was feeling a little shaky. But I must admit, after reading this post, I’m feeling a lot more motivated. 

    P.S. I specially liked that “Keep writing ideas and solutions coming to your mind on any thing which come to your hand.” I’m having that habit since long.”

  • Shailesh Tripathi

    Its good to feel like an entrepreneur and start working on dreams. Neil is always clear to his ideas on entrepreneurship.

  • Sharing Digital Way

    Who knows a entrepreneur better than a entrepreneur itself. Its like same to same understanding.

  • Bill Simmel

    Good article, but I think you are highlighting the “casual effect” of wanting / being an entrepreneur, You neglected to cite quite a few other signs:

    I think you also need to mention – you are willing to work endless hours, 7 days a week and possibly not make a dime in the birthing stage of your business. Also, how friends will tell you how crazy you are and how you will probably disconnect from many friends because the hours your “put in” do not allow a social calendar. 
    And of course, you must learn to operate on little sleep because you are working when you should be sleeping ,and when you do decide to nap you cannot shut off your inner entrepreneur. 

    Being an entrepreneur is very hard work and it is not a title for those who just want to be their own boss or “like” the term entrepreneur on their resume. When you are an entrepreneur you soon realize you are the top box on the organizational chart, unfortunately many times it is the only box – that makes you the boss, worker, manager,dreamer, and of course you soon learn one thing -that axiom it is lonely at the top is ALWAYS present.

    Become an entrepreneur for all the right reasons, not simply to fit the perceived lifestyle.

  • Artiste

    Neil, what’s your twitter account name, I would love to follow you. There is so many Neil Patel on Twitter…thanks!

  • Daniellegoodacre

    Could have been written about me. Laughing very much! I thought I had issues but it now all makes sense!

  • Vanishadee


  • Eda

    80 hrs? easy

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