Ah\u2026 the joys of summer. That time of the year when people gather for backyard barbecues, children sign up to play in baseball leagues, and families turn their attention to summer vacation plans. Summer is also a time to reflect on the reasons why you decided to become a small business owner and declare independence from the traditional 9-to-5 workforce. So, why did you decide to declare independence? Was it because you wanted more flexibility and freedom in your life? Perhaps you were tired of working for someone else and wanted the independence that comes from working for yourself. Whatever your reasons,\u00a0think about how your personal declaration of independence has opened up and changed your life. What's your story? My Story In June of 2004, I finally did it. I handed in my resignation as an associate professor, and began packing up the formidable accumulation of books, music and files from four degrees and 24 years of academic life. Distilled onto one little piece of paper that began with the words \u201ckindly accept my resignation\u201d and ended with \u201csincerely,\u201d my academic career ended--and my life as an entrepreneurial woman began. Taking this step to become an entrepreneur seems, in retrospect, the most natural thing for me to have done. The trek from resigning from a prestigious academic post to starting up my own small business, though, had a lot more start-up woes than start-up goes. At first, I felt euphoric at the feeling of being liberated. Then, I was slammed by the twin emotions of panic and fear. Since I had always been a full-time, traditionally employed person, finding myself out of a job with no idea what I would do next was bloody overwhelming. From one day to the next, I couldn\u2019t tell whether I was feeling exhilarated at being free to do, be and have whatever I wanted, or shocked by disbelief as the reality of what I had done began to sink in. I felt 98 percent excited and 2 percent scared, or was it 2 percent excited and 98 percent scared? I just didn\u2019t know! This is what I think makes taking charge of your own business so intense for us all. Entrepreneurship: Is It for You? Becoming an entrepreneur and small business owner is not for everyone. For many people, the very thought of not having a steady paycheck is enough to put them off. For others it\u2019s the cost of starting a small business (paying for health insurance, Social Security and other future needs) that becomes too much of an investment and risk. For some it\u2019s the stress of working in isolation, the lack of knowing where to turn for feedback and support, the endless distractions and the challenges of being, at least for a time, a one-person show that send them running for the door. For the fortunate few who feel the call of the entrepreneur, however, this is about as exciting a time as it gets to start up and launch your new business! Top 10 Characteristics of Entrepreneurs Fortunately, psychologists, sociologists and historians have been studying the behavioral characteristics and traits of successful entrepreneurs for long enough to have come up with a composite list of attributes and characteristics. Read the list and mentally keep count of how many times you said, \u201cYes, that\u2019s me!\u201d You have a strong desire for autonomy, to be your own boss, and to live life on your own terms. You are an independent self-starter, not needing or wanting others to tell you what to do. You have a powerful drive to make money and accumulate wealth. You are a calculated risk-taker with a higher-than-normal tolerance for failure; maybe you even consider failure a non-issue. You like to be in control and call the shots. You are highly self-motivated and are indefatigably fearless when it comes to getting the job done. You had childhood experiences as a budding entrepreneur and/or entrepreneurial parents, grandparents or relatives. You have a high level of energy that is sustainable over a long period of time. You are creative and innovative, a strong decision maker, and able to think quickly on your feet and set things in motion. You are a big-picture thinker, capable of seeing how things relate to each other. So, How\u2019d You Do? Did you see yourself in this list of characteristics? Entrepreneurs are extraordinary people. They value freedom, autonomy, independence and control. They are creative, driven self-starters. They have courage and conviction in spades and don\u2019t see failure the same way that other people do. They are remarkable in their inner toughness. Their strength helps them rise above self-doubt, apparent failures and the din of their critics. They value themselves and their ideas so much that they decide, once and for all, to make their own personal declaration of independence.