Are you an heir apparent with a billion-dollar surname? Do you hold a degree from an elite university? Are you the wunderkind at your illustrious firm? Heck, do you have friends or family members in high places? Then congratulations: You have a good shot at being the next big thing in your industry.
For those you who can’t say “yes” to any of these questions – which is probably most of you – fear not: Failure to fit the stereotypes of business success doesn’t condemn you to a life of obscurity. In fact, many of the world’s most famous self-made millionaires actually come from quite surprising backgrounds.
Successful entrepreneurs rarely follow the beaten path, and it’s this subversion of the norm that often underpins their overwhelming success.
Don’t believe me? Here are five surprising signs that you might be the next rock star entrepreneur in the making:
1. You Dropped Out of University
Dropping out of university to pursue a dream can show bravery and a willingness to take risks, which are key qualities for any entrepreneur. Let’s not forget that Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and many other successful entrepreneurs were college dropouts who took the road less traveled to pursue their dreams. If you believe in an idea strongly enough that you are willing to drop out of school to pursue it, you could have the drive necessary to be an entrepreneur.
2. You Never Attended University in the First Place
Many successful entrepreneurs completely shunned university. Some didn’t even have the patience even for high school, preferring to get a head start by starting their businesses during their teenage years. Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Ingvar Kamprad, Coco Chanel and many more started their businesses pretty much out of high school.
3. You Just Don’t Fit in to the School System
For many ground-breaking entrepreneurs, the entire schooling system can feel like a straitjacket. Were you intelligent and curious at school, but disruptive and academically disinterested? Perhaps you are the next Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba who struggled academically and failed repeatedly at middle school. Ma himself says that most of his learning he was self-directed.
If you failed at school because you just didn’t fit into the system, you might just have the fiercely original mind and independent outlook that drive entrepreneurial success.
4. You Hate Authority and the Way Things Are
Research from Humantelligence found that many entrepreneurs start businesses because they despise authority and want to break rules. If you are the sort of person who hates the norm – and you have the emotional intelligence to channel that frustration into invention – then you have part of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
5. You Think Your Current Employer’s Strategies Suck
Do you think you can do better than you boss or even the CEO? Do you think your company’s products and strategies suck?
There is the danger that you are just being arrogant, but if you go beyond simply questioning the status quo and regularly put forward practical, innovative alternatives, then you have some critical entrepreneurial qualities. If you really do think you can do a better job than your employer is doing, then it may be time to put your money where your mouth is and go it alone as an entrepreneur.
Successful entrepreneurship is not reserved for the elite. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs were rebels, rejects, and dropouts whose fearlessness played a critical role in the climb to the top. If you hate the status quo, are passionate about finding an alternative, and have resilience in the face of challenges, then you may just be the next great entrepreneur.