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Be Willing to Accept High Levels of Uncertainty.

As we examine the four qualities of an entrepreneur, the best place to start is being willing and able to accept a higher lever of uncertainty. Many times, people believe being a risk-taker or an impulsive person is necessary to being an entrepreneur. While there are entrepreneurs who have these qualities and turn out just as successful as those who don’t, being an impulsive risk-taker can often lead you to more stressful times. There is a lot of planning, focus, and deliberation that goes into building and maintaining a business.

Yet, we look for a word or thought to describe just how it is that a person can leave a ‘good, stable job’ and jump into something as risky as starting a business of their own. What we see in entrepreneurs is not impulsiveness or the ability to take a chance at any wild odds: instead, it is comfort with a higher level of uncertainty.

Certainty is an odd thing. Being certain indicates something is sure and without a doubt. People generally like certainty, along with predictability and stability. Again, there is nothing wrong with any of these things and you can be comfortable with uncertainty while being a predictable and stable person.

One hard part with certainty is that it’s the known thing and that is far less scary than an unknown quantity. Think about how long you stayed at a bad job, or at least a job that just wasn’t doing anything for you anymore. Now, think about why you stuck it out for so long. Of course, there are always practical matters to consider, such having income to take care of responsibilities, but how much of your remaining there was due to it being easier to stay compared to hunting down and moving on something new?

There is a benefit to certainty: we know how things work, or least how they work most of the time. At most jobs, you have pretty solid knowledge about your schedule, the rate and frequency of pay, what your tasks are, how things function, and what the culture is like. Even in highly variable jobs such as straight commission sales, many medical professions, or on-call situations, you know the set up. It’s all part of the deal you signed on for.

Now, I know there are people out there who may be thinking “Not my job! My job is full of randomness and insanity,” even then there is a level of certainty. You know it’s going to be crazy and unpleasantly difficult. The badness is the known quantity.

When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there are many elements where things are uncertain. Getting and maintaining work, setting up competitive prices, launching products and ideas at the right time, developing effective marketing strategies, and managing expenses while correctly spending enough money are all uncertain and challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur.

Uncertainly also lies in the often erratic nature of schedules, pay, and how many people you will see that day. . Depending on what you do, you may be a ‘culture’ of one. You may spend days working 18 hours at a shot or set up a system that requires you to actually ‘work’ just a handful of hours each week to make ends meet. You might be part of a project that will provide you income for the next ten months when, just a few weeks ago, you were scrabbling for jobs and living hand to mouth. You might have bursts of being around people constantly or have a set up where everything is online and you are rarely in the same zip code as your clients.

Yet, there is a more human side to the matter of uncertainty. When you launch a business, you are putting yourself and your ideas out there and are facing real rejection. You need to convince people to sign on to you, your products, your business, and your ideas. It is the daily effort of making people believe in you and that can be a very uncertain thing. When you’re on your own, there is always the possibility looming over your head of having to call it quits before you want to. There is always the thought that your shingle may not be hanging out next year, based on either your decisions or just random events.

Taking management business decisions out of the mix, most people working for others know what they need to do to keep their job. The rules and requirements are laid out and, if adhered to, a person can keep clocking in each day. Entrepreneurs don’t usually have that comfort.

Everyone finds and faces different challenges when it comes to adjusting to more unknown quantities in your working life. In the end, to be happy as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing and able to deal with uncertainty that is greater than what you may have experienced in other lines of work.

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