Power Players

Kevin O'Leary: How to tell if you have what it takes to start your own business

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Kevin O'Leary: Here's what sets entrepreneurs apart from employees

As the star of ABC's "Shark Tank," Kevin O'Leary has a decade of experience assessing entrepreneurs who walk into the Tank. And he's learned the inherent difference between those people who are meant to be their own boss and those who are meant to be employees.

"It's all about how you see yourself in the future," O'Leary tells CNBC Make It. "If you're willing to sacrifice your family life in your 20s and 30s – you'll have no free time — and you're willing to work 25 hours a day, eight days a week, then you're an entrepreneur."

O'Leary, who founded his own software company in 1986 and sold it to Mattel in 1999 for more than a reported $4 billionalways tells aspiring entrepreneurs they should be willing and ready to work all the time in order to be successful, and to "forget about balance."

Because of that, for some being an employee is the right choice, O'Leary says. The workload of an employee is much more manageable.

"Being an employee, particularly a good one, allows you free time on weekends or to go to baseball games for your kids or to do things during your two- to three-week holiday that no entrepreneur ever gets, particularly when they're working so hard," he adds.

For entrepreneurs, the goal is for all the hard work to provide freedom later on.

"The reason you do it is to provide freedom later in life," O'Leary says. "Freedom in a way that no employee ever gets, because when you're an employee, you work for somebody else."

For O'Leary, success as an entrepreneur now allows him to pursue his passions, like photography.

"You don't do entrepreneurship for the greed of money," he told CNBC Make It. "Because what does it mean to be wealthy in America? [It means] you're personally free. That's what's important."

"The way to look at it is freedom," O'Leary explains. "How important is freedom to you later in life? If it's very important, try the entrepreneurial path. It ain't easy, but boy it's worth it."

Don't miss: Kevin O'Leary on college admissions scandal: 'I'll tell you who you really screwed: Your kid'

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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