Here's a test of whether your entrepreneurial aspirations are the real deal: Imagine how you would react if the first 20 people who heard your idea shot it down, or if you failed at your first five attempts to make a go of it.
If those scenarios sound discouraging to you, then chances are you aren't cut out to be an entrepreneur. On the other hand, if you didn't scare that easily, you just might have what it takes. Here are some questions that can help you further assess your aptitude.
1. Do you believe?
It may sound corny, but it really does start with believing in yourself and your business idea. To hear researcher and author James V. Koch describe it, the classic entrepreneurial personality seems to combine the self-confidence of Muhammad Ali with the sunny-eyed optimism of Little Orphan Annie. Koch, who is a professor of economics and president emeritus at Old Dominion University, co-wrote with James L. Fisher, "Born, Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality," based on a comparative study of more than 200 CEOs.
"We ran into entrepreneurs who had failed four or five times in a row, and they were absolutely convinced that this next time they were going to strike gold," Koch says.
That confidence ties into another essential entrepreneurial trait: the willingness to take risks.
"You take someone like Thomas Edison, who had all kinds of failures, or Walt Disney, just to take two prominent names," Koch says. "They weren't easily discouraged. They were willing to take risks."
2. What's your motivation?
Even above making money, entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to do "something of significance," says Jon Down, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Portland in Oregon.
"They don't view what they're doing the way a lot of people may view their jobs -- as a means to a paycheck that allows them to do other things outside of their work," Down says. For the entrepreneur, the work itself is the goal."
3. How do you see the world?
Bill Wagner, author of "The Entrepreneur Next Door," says successful business owners tend to be "more strategic in their thinking ... more big-picture oriented," as opposed to being more tactical and focused on details. That wide-angle perspective comes in handy for handling the broad range of challenges that will fall squarely on their shoulders as company chiefs.
"They have to have the ability to walk into almost any environment and figure it out," Wagner says. "They have to have an ability to strategize, to be innovative, a good troubleshooter and problem solver. They have to have the ability to see a solution before most other people even recognize that there's a problem."
Next: Ask yourself what you're getting into...