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by Barbara Brabec
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Are You a "Self-Employed Individual"
or an "Entrepreneur"?

An excerpt from HOMEMADE MONEY

by Barbara Brabec

Have you ever taken one of those entrepreneurial quizzes to see if you've got what it takes for success? If you have, and got high marks, congratulations. But if your score was disappointing, don't take it to heart. Some of these tests are not all they're cracked up to be, and while they're meant to be helpful, in some cases they tend to discourage good people with a lot of potential.

Although I've been profitably self-employed for most of my life, I've never felt comfortable with the entrepreneur label. Awhile back, when a highly-rated entrepreneurial quiz was making the rounds, I took the test just for the fun of it. As an internationally-known author, speaker, publisher and home-business expert, I figured I'd score high. Imagine my surprise when the test revealed I was "unlikely to succeed."

This information was both amusing to me and useful because it gave me interesting perspective on the difference between classic entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals like myself. While I have many entrepreneurial traits, there are two I lack, which set my score back.

First, I tend to be inflexible; second, I care too much about the feelings of others. The classic entrepreneur, you see, operates in a flexible and spontaneous style, but like so many others who have started businesses at home, I am more comfortable with a planned, predetermined way of life, both at home and in business. I set guidelines and timetables for my business and I don't like to leave things up in the air. I am less willing to change course in a venture after it is underway, and once I make up my mind on an issue, I'm not easily swayed from my opinion. (Mother always said I was bullheaded, just like my father.)

These things set me and thousands of other successfully self-employed individuals apart from the classic entrepreneur who typically has an impersonal, logical approach to business. Unlike typical entrepreneurs, homebased business owners tend to be caring individuals who are truly concerned about the needs of others, and their commitment to providing worthwhile products and services is important to their success.

The test I took did confirm that I'm a "go-getter" who understands the importance of finishing tasks thoroughly and on time; and that I'm disciplined and have learned the secrets of managing my time effectively. (Stated philosophically, this means that each day of our lives we are faced with many situations in which we must choose between self-discipline and self-gratification. The choice is not always easy.) A cautionary note on my test said, "Because of your nature, you may have to temper your desire to do everything yourself , so make an effort to delegate responsibility." (Oh, if only it were that simple, as new home business owners soon learn.)

My major entrepreneurial weakness has always been my difficulty with my "outer sphere adaptability." In other words, like most people, I prefer to work in my own "comfort zone." Although I couldn't have attained high visibility in the home business industry without stepping outside my sphere on many occasions, this is not to say I've ever felt comfortable doing it. As your business grows, you, too, will find many opportunities outside your immediate comfort zone of friends, contacts, and resources, and you'll have to explore new territory, too, whether you call yourself an entrepreneur, freelancer, self-employed individual, or plain vanilla "home business owner." So get used to feeling uncomfortable. It's a natural part of being in business for yourself. 

Or as the well-known quilt designer and author Jean Ray Laury says: "If you are being pulled out of your comfort zone, out of your area of competence, you are being challenged. Anything that challenges tends to push us to the extremes of our abilities . . . and that 's when we discover things about ourselves."

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