What does it take to be an entrepreneur?
Everyone is an entrepreneur these days. You can do courses in entrepreneurship, you can even get a degree in it or a doctorate if you really want to. But what makes an entrepreneur?
In my experience, entrepreneurs are not found in the classroom. They may emerge from a classroom or find themselves in one at some point in their lives, but they are not produced in a classroom. The skills of entrepreneurship reside in the imagination. I’m not sure about you, but I have never attended a class that specialises in imagination.
Every single business on the planet began in someone’s imagination somewhere. The seed of the idea was planted through experience and perhaps through formal learning. This seed of an idea could well have been planted in the heads of many people, but it took the entrepreneurial thinker to bring it to life.
What is it that goes on inside the head of such people that causes them to bring the idea to life and other people to let it remain dormant in their minds?
I believe there are a few key ingredients needed to nurture such seeds. And they don’t include money, opportunity or formal education.
The first one is:
Belief. Entrepreneurial thinkers need to have the belief that their idea can be brought to life. They need to be able to feel that it will be a success and have a sense that people will want to buy what it is that they are creating. You’ll notice that initially there is no hard data. The entrepreneurial thinker acts on gut feeling in the early days and will gather data later to support or refine their idea.
The second one is:
Imagination. This is essential. You must have a vision that you can articulate to other people and bring to life through description, pictures, video and products or services. There must be something in your head that can be translated into the real world so that people can experience your vision. In the early days of an entrepreneurial journey, this might simply be storytelling or a series of images and yet other people are able to grasp the concept that is sitting in the entrepreneur’s head. The inability to articulate your idea may mean the fledgling seed withers and dies so the entrepreneur must find a way to tell the world about it.
The third one is:
Persistence. In the early days, most people will think the entrepreneur is crazy. The world is full of tales of entrepreneurs being laughed at, ridiculed, publicly humiliated and denounced. Their path is littered with failures and the rest of the world points at those and says ‘see, they can’t do it, they are crazy’. And yet when their idea takes hold, the world says ‘wow, what a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?’ It’s that time before success arrives that the real entrepreneur keeps going. They never let go of their vision. They may alter the path they’re on slightly and tweak their idea, but they never let go of their vision. This is in spite of the ridicule, potential financial loss and the sheer loneliness of the journey.
The fourth one is:
Energy. Finally, the entrepreneur needs energy. They need to find ways of doing things with limited resources, limited time and limited cash. They have to be smart, resilient and crafty in order to succeed. Their energy levels may dip for short periods of time. But essentially they find a way to regroup, gather resources from thin air and get going. They think in ways that other people don’t think. Often they find ways over, under or around the side of problems. Very rarely do they take the straight road through them. And they get up early, go to bed late, work when everyone else is having fun. They don’t stop thinking about their vision. It stays with them day and night and becomes almost obsessive.
Living with an entrepreneur can be tricky. Living with anyone who is that driven is tricky, but the rewards are worth it.
When their vision comes to life, the elation is huge, the financial rewards can be fantastic and the lifestyle that goes with success is one that almost everyone envies from afar.
You can be an entrepreneur within a large business just as much as you can be an entrepreneur in your own business. It’s about your attitude, the way you think and your determination to succeed. Yes, there will be doubt and dark days and there will be times when you want to give up. But the true entrepreneur keeps going until they realise their true purpose and their ultimate vision. Even then, they keep going because it’s in their DNA.
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