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Entrepreneurship: Do you qualify for the ride of your life? The 8-point test

Published: Monday, Oct. 1 2012 6:35 p.m. MDT

Editor's note: This article written by Alan Hall originally appeared on Forbes.com and is being reprinted with his permission.

I recently received an email from a young executive in Mali, Africa, in response to an article I'd written for Forbes. She asked, from a land far away, "Can everyone be a successful business builder? Is it a realistic notion?"

"Surely not everyone can succeed at this most difficult endeavor," she wrote. "Why do some flourish and others fail? Clearly, the odds of high achievement are challenging."

I liken award winners to a ride in a supersonic F-16 fighter jet. A few years ago, the U.S. Air Force invited my daughter Megan to fly in one of the ThunderBird's magnificent aircraft in the clear blue skies high over the Wasatch Mountains.

According to the pilot, the plan would include a barrel roll before landing. Just prior to the last maneuver, however, the base commander said there would be a change in plans. The giddy passenger wasn't feeling well. Apparently during this amusement ride from Hades, Megan had lost her lunch several times during the steeply banked turns.

At touchdown, the boisterous cheers of the spectators welcomed her home. It was several minutes before an exhausted and wearied aviator disembarked from her aircraft.

Once she was composed, I asked what she'd thought. "Dad, it was the most exhilarating experience of my life, but at the same time the most frightful," she said. "I will never forget the excitement and awe of flying so fast across the sky. There is nothing like it."

High-speed flight and entrepreneurship have much in common. It's my belief the list below represents the personal attributes of high-soaring entrepreneurs, as well as great pilots.

1. Successful entrepreneurs have an overwhelming desire to succeed.

Without a doubt, distinguished entrepreneurs have a passion to build a flourishing enterprise. They think about it constantly. They are obsessed with a dream and pursue it unflaggingly.

2. Business builders possess fortitude.

They are courageous and they exhibit true grit. They have an indomitable spirit that drives them to reach beyond themselves. They are fearless.

3. Award-winning founders are willing and able to take a risk.

They understand the cost/ benefits of engaging in what's unknown. They have a peculiar faith to try, no matter the odds.

4. Successful entrepreneurs are highly resilient.

These individuals are flexible and can pivot as needed. They can stay motivated and fulfilled even with the deep lows and euphoric highs of starting and growing a fluctuating business.

5. They are persistent.

These overachievers never give up. They overcome every barrier. Quitting is not an option for them. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

6. They are prepared and have organized their efforts.

They can spend a sufficient amount of time marshaling the required resources to complete every task. They have the skills to carefully manage the components that lead to the achievement of goals.

7. They have a clear and thoughtful plan.

Great entrepreneurs know what they want to achieve and have a roadmap to follow. They have every detail carefully outlined and they have a precise checklist.

8. They enjoy support from others.

Successful founders have support from family, investors, vendors, employees and customers. They are able to nurture critical relationships with people who are willing to provide the assistance they need.

As you read this list of characteristics, can you answer yes to each point? If so, there is a very high chance that you, too, may be the next great innovator with a high-flying business.

As to our reader's question: Can everybody become an entrepreneur? No — not everyone is suited for the life of an entrepreneur. However, every business and every employee can benefit from increasing their entrepreneurial skills. Increasingly, entrepreneurial companies are becoming the lifeblood of our global economy and are becoming a progressively greater source of new jobs. Wherever you fit best in this growing and evolving equation, I look forward to helping you to prepare. And I wish you the best in your own exhilarating journey.

Do you have stories to tell? Additional questions? Feel free to contact me through this column, through www.AlanEHall.com or via @AskAlanEHall.

Alan E. Hall is a cofounding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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