The word “Entrepreneurship” is derived from ‘entreprendre’ which means ’to undertake’. Applied to the business world, Harvard Business School defines entrepreneurship as “the process of creating or seizing an opportunity and pursuing it regardless of the resources currently controlled.”

A more descriptive definition comes from the ILO Entrepreneurship Manual. The authors define entrepreneurship as “The art of identifying viable business opportunities and mobilizing resources to convert those opportunities into a successful enterprise through creativity, innovation, risk-taking and progressive imagination.”

There are many opinions on what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the handmade industry. Even the experts do not agree on all the details. However, here are 6 behaviours that are common among successful makers:

They seek out opportunity

Champion makers search hard to find consumer needs and address them profitably. Artisans need to make sure that their creations are wanted and of value for their shoppers. They also must improve existing products and processes to address evolving consumer needs and to identify new products that shoppers may want.

They persevere

Perseverance is about not giving up, even when things get tough, complicated, or when frustration sets in. One month of below expectation sales does not indicate your business will implode. One dissatisfied customer does not mean that all other people will now stop buying your product. No one can predict how long it will take an artisan business to generate significant profit. However, most experts agree that profitability is rarely achieved through a sprint and more commonly a marathon. By the way - Twitter needed more than a decade to make a net profit.

They are willing to take risks

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Risk is an integral part of any business, because we can’t reliably predict the future. As an artisan entrepreneur, you have to test the waters. Try a new product, new colours, new price point, new collaboration, new marketing strategies, or a craft-show you did not attend before. Still, you should carefully evaluate your risks. The Nooks do offer artisans an opportunity to manage the risk of entering retail. You need not sign a 3 year retail lease for $5000 per month. And you need not generate $10,000 + per month in revenue. You can start small, learn, and grow safely, without breaking the bank or losing your proverbial shirt.

They are goal oriented

They set targets to define their progress. That way they know when they have reached their goals.

They work hard

Only 5% of business owners work less than 30-hours per week. Most, especially those who are new to entrepreneurship, or are starting a new business work 50 – 60 hours per week, often more. If the initial scale of your business is smaller than full time, for example as an on-the-side venture or part-time, you might not have to invest 50+ hours a week. However, when you work on achieving your vision you need to be focused and relentless, regardless of scale.

They have foresight

Planning is about making decisions about the future of a business. It becomes your game plan and defines what you do, when you do it, where to do it, how you do it to do, who will implement, which resources are needed, and what your costs are.  Intelligent entrepreneurs want to:

- Have a road map & direction for business activities

- Focus effort on where it counts

- Define the steps that will drive sales

- Establish a consistent strategy platform from which their business can operate. Planning is essential.

Starting an artisan business, growing it into a healthy enterprise is not an easy task. But it has been achieved thousands of times.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”