Some people believe that the life of an entrepreneur is hard. They also tend to believe that entrepreneurs are born and not made. This is simply not true.

The main difference between an entrepreneur and an employee is their mindset, and has very little to do with their innate abilities, talents or smarts. Those who learn to act, fail often, learn from their mistakes and persevere have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs.

Presented here are nine essential qualities entrepreneurs should understand and cultivate in their work life:

1. Do what it takes

Businessman with the notebook 3Credit: stock.xchng - Ambrozio [Image ID: 1362248]Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers and solution-seekers. When something looks as though it's not going to work, entrepreneurs still look for ways to make it work. More often than not, this also translates into helping others.

From attending conventions to acquiring the tools they require for their business, entrepreneurs don't mix the problem-solving process with their decision-making process. Once a decision is made, they do anything and everything in their power to follow through with their commitments.

2. Stay consistent

Traditional businesses are usually open five days a week. Entrepreneurs are open seven days a week. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are open 24 hours a day, but it does mean that they prioritize and put work above other less important things in their schedule.

Consistency builds momentum. Even a small amount of focused daily effort can help move a business forward. Commit to daily activity, even if it's small.

3. Work hard

As an entrepreneur, you can't be afraid of hard work. This doesn't mean that you should work so hard and so ferociously that you're tired all the time, hate your life and never have time for anything else. Still, if you know the end result will be worth it, you'll be willing to make sacrifices along the way.

Cut the fat off of your life. Limit the amount of time you spend on things like entertainment (TV, movies, video games, surfing the internet) and email. Also, consider putting limits on the time you spend with people that aren't invested in their own future and particularly your future.

4. Make a long-term commitment

People often try a bunch of things only to give up on them later. Businesses often don't work for those who only give them 30 to 90 day trials. Entrepreneurs are willing to commit for the long haul, and anticipate investing at least five to 10 years of their time before seeing a return on their efforts.

Though entrepreneurship isn't always "safe and secure", especially in the early years, it does give you the opportunity to generate considerably more income than you could in traditional employment. It also has the potential to give you more freedom of time.

5. Cultivate focus

Many new entrepreneurs are seekers or lookers. They either spent or still spend a lot of time looking for business and investment opportunities.

However, once you decide on a vehicle that you believe produces the kind of results you're looking for, it's important to develop focus. In my experience, lookers don't automatically become non-lookers. After going through a stage of expansion, it can be hard to scale down again.

But I have also found that developing the right mindset will keep your projects in perspective. You'll learn to commit to and prioritize high impact activities, and put off or shed the low impact ones. When everything goes through the filter of "five to 10 years", you'll find yourself wasting less time on things that sound fun but you can't see yourself doing for a longer period of time.

6. Keep your business finances separate from personal finances

Once you start making some money from your business, it can be tempting to mix it in with your personal finances. It can be tempting to spend it on something you want right now. However, this would be a mistake.

The money you earn from your business - especially in the beginning stages - should be reinvested back into your business. If there is a need to hire an employee, purchase additional supplies or invest in marketing, this is where the funds should go.

Entrepreneurs are generally good at practicing delayed gratification; not dipping their fingers into their future assets too early.

7. Grow yourself

Leaders are readers, right? As an entrepreneur, you are the leader of your company, and if you don't have any employees, assistants, partners or coworkers yet, you are still the leader of yourself. You have to be able to lead yourself well if you want to lead others.

Delving into good self-development books and audios should become a daily habit. Attending conferences where you can learn more about your industry and learn from successful people should also be a priority.

8. Get out of your comfort zone

As an entrepreneur, your comfort zone is not your friend. Most successful entrepreneurs have gotten good at developing relationships and building networks, and they didn't build those networks sitting in front of a TV or waiting around for the next call.

I have also heard it said that the amount you can expect to get paid from your efforts is in proportion to your willingness to get out of your comfort zone. This is a habit you can cultivate in your life as much as reading or listening to audio.

9. Choose your association

Birds of a feather flock together. You are going to become the average of your five best friends and the books you read. If that sounds scary to you, you're probably not getting around the right people (or reading the right books) yet.

This doesn't mean that you should outright disown your family and friends, but you'll want to spend more time with likeminded people who want more out of life. If you can find a mentor who is willing to work with you, that's even better.