That was what I told my brother (who is my biz partner). Here’s why I was wrong, and you are too if you’ve ever thought that about someone.
About Me (Isn’t it always?)
Two things stuck out to me as defining characteristics of being an entrepreneur: Risk Taking and Hard Work. Of course, those were two characteristics I shared with many of my clients who were small business owners. I am comfortable with risk, but I learned that many of my successful entrepreneur colleagues weren’t. They viewed risk analytically and if balanced it with potential reward. At the ripe age of 41 I came to grips with the reality that one didn’t have to be a gambler to be an entrepreneur.
Hard work is something that most entrepreneurs share, and certainly if one is starting a business from scratch, one will have to work their ass off. A funny thing happened though when the start up/growth phase had passed. I didn’t have to work nearly hard as I used to. Did I stop being an entrepreneur just because I quit working 6 days a week? Again I was confronted with a new truth, entrepreneurship doesn’t equal hard work. As you will see below, I actually think maybe the opposite is true.
So what is entrepreneurship?
As I see it, in its most basic form, the entrepreneur definition is delivering a solution to a problem. This is distinct from solving a problem. We’ve all heard many great ideas by people that never act on them. Solving the problem is often the simplest thing. Usually delivering the solution involves some enterprising, either starting a new company, or delivering a new service or product. It always involves ACTION, and it involves CREATING something that wasn’t there. Often this can have its impetus in laziness. Who hasn’t thought of a solution to a problem that involved less work or time? I would say most. How can you come up with ideas about less work when you’re working 80 hours a week? It’s difficult. I think that is what is behind the practices of many successful entrepreneurs such as sabbaticals.
So using the above criteria, I submit that virtually ANYONE can be an entrepreneur. The garbage collector, a child, a teenager, a manager. ANYONE. All they have to do is CREATE something new and ACT with it.
Which brings me back to my brother. He suffers from paralysis by analysis. On the Kolbe scale he is High Fact Finder and Resistant to Quick Start. (I’m High Quick Start and High Fact Finder. Very resistant to Follow Through. Ask any of my teachers). “You’re not really an entrepreneur” came as a response to one of our conversations where he was telling me another great idea of his. My thought was you’re never going to act on it, so you can’t be an entrepreneur. Boy was I wrong. He has been a very good entrepreneur, finding and implementing solutions to many problems.
Self Limiting Beliefs
We all have them. The soundtrack in our head that automatically runs. That set of assumptions that you don’t question. The ability to filter any and everything out that conflicts with them. You literally don’t hear or see things.
How many people have I limited because of those beliefs about Entrepreneurship? Lots. How many of our children are being squashed of their entrepreneurial talent in our soul-crushing government monopolies? Everything is based upon a standardized answer on a test. Is that the way life really is? One answer?
I share this in the hopes that others can learn from my experience. I found that Entrepreneurs are all around me. I need to encourage, support, nurture and mentor them. In so doing, I’ll not only help them AND me, but the world will be a better place because of it.
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