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What Differentiates an Entrepreneur From Others
The Distinction Between Managers and Entrepreneurs
Why do some people decide to go into business, with its obvious risks, while the majority want nothing more than a nice safe job that will keep them securely employed? Although, the latter may have a business education and worked as managers in some corporations, that does not make them entrepreneurs. To be one, they need to have started their own enterprise. There are those that are happy to be working for others, while the entrepreneur finds a way to excite and motivate people to join them in new exploits. Bitcoin, current speculation aside, is a perfect example of someone sitting down and deciding that there may be a better and more secure system for commercial transactions. There are many examples of this type of breakthrough thinking and implementation of totally brand new ideas.
This can be partly due to sheer creative brilliance by certain talented individuals who stand out from the crowd. However, by taking a path not trodden before, they willingly expose themselves to risks, additional stress and instability. Entrepreneurship comes from the French word : “entreprendre”, which means to take on a new challenge. When we take on something new, we are forced to cast off some of the safety nets that have safeguarded our lives until then. It is a jump into unknown and unexplored territory. What makes these individuals want to take this risky flight? There are some who become entrepreneurs because of congested job markets, or because societal biases limited their opportunities. Driven by fear of failure and lack of other options may boost their drive to succeed. But these are not the best motivators, because this type of approach - from a position of desperation - leads to unsuitable individuals taking risks that do not match their intrinsic strengths. So what does it take to be a true entrepreneur?
Early signs - A budding entrepreneur will often show early signs, such as a need to be in charge of a group, or organizing other people for a particular action or cause. This may start in preschool and continue as the individual matures into adulthood. They will often initiate new endeavors in school, such as starting a newspaper or social club. Once they reach early adulthood, they often start a small part-time business like lawn care or house painting that will support their tuition fees. Before even leaving the educational phase of their lives, they are often burning with ideas for new ventures. This may impede their education, but they believe that this risk is well worth taking.
Stubborn independence - They do not willingly subjugate themselves to the authority of others. This is a trait that in many circumstances places them at adds with established authority, whether in school, at play or later on in the work place. But it also drives them to seek their own independent path, and insist that they can do things better than they have been done before. This is not always true, and often causes them grief before they finally succeed. But their stubbornness motivates them to persevere until they reach some modicum of success..
Challenge the status-quo - Never entirely happy to be part of the established norms and practices, they challenge them through ideas that they later turn into practice. This trait has become the dominant factor in this era of creative destruction. The entrepreneur is never satisfied with what has been accomplished in the past. It is the future that beckons and leads them to discover new horizons.
Multitaskers - Their brains incubate multiple ideas at once or, through association, they jump from one idea to another in quick succession. They may launch a company on one basic concept and then in fairly short order move to another one. This may lead to strife, if the original business is left unattended and new ventures are started before the first is fully stabilized. However, these individuals have the ability to take on multiple tasks at once and manage more than one business at a time. Conglomerates are an example of this kind of ability.
Blindness to risk – where others see only risk the entrepreneur sees opportunities. Once their minds embrace an idea, they stubbornly hold on to it despite having been forewarned by others that their brain thrust can land them in dangerous waters. This blindness is not always healthy and can cause great difficulties from which they may not readily be able to extricate themselves. But their passion for the idea and strong desire to make a success of it will often overcome initial difficulties and drive their projects forward.
Power Of Conviction – As natural leaders, they have an uncanny ability to convince others that their ideas are worthy of support. They will find ways and means to influence others to see the idea from their point of view. Their enthusiasm captivates the uncommitted, and eventually wears down their objections. Joining them may not necessarily entail active participation in their business concept. The initial objective may be to target those who can help to provide the funding, and others who can offer certain expertise. If the business fails for some reason, they may feel bad for those who supported them and lost some money in the process, but they are able to pivot and move forward again.
Warriors against adversity – Once they hatch an idea for a new business and see it through inception and practice, the business becomes like a child to whom they have given birth. They are profoundly tied to their new baby, and their protective instincts zero in on any danger that may impact the health of this new entity. They are not adverse to do battle with whoever and whatever impedes the success of the business. This does not imply undue aggressiveness, but just a deployment of the many skills that they have in their arsenal, such as being good at convincing their suppliers to extend additional credit or improve payment terms.
Breeders of new ideas – The mind of the true entrepreneur is never at rest and satisfied with what has been accomplished to date. They may turn over the day-to-day management to others and move to a more creative role within the organization. They may build on the ideas already in play, or seek horizontal and vertical connections that can transform their business into something bigger and better. This can be within the existing industry or totally new challenges. Elon Musk went from a company that was a financing intermediary, to one that builds electric vehicles and space ships.
Unstopped by past failures – The spirit of an entrepreneur is undaunted by past failures. It may cause them grief in the short term, but they will find a way to raise themselves, like Phoenix, from the ashes of initial failure and sink their claws into a new venture. And if this fails, then the same process will be restarted until they find success. Being an entrepreneur is the meaning of life for them, and they cannot be entirely happy without working on some new business scheme. After failure, there may be some self doubt, and the hectoring of others may dampen their spirit for a while, but the strong pull to start something new will overcome the adversity.
Entrepreneurs power the future - In the high-tech business of today, we often see large businesses gobbling up smaller ones; and the enticement of huge payoffs for entrepreneurs prompts them to forsake their original business in order to walk out with a bundle of cash. But this does not remove the entrepreneurial spirit that got them to where their company became so valuable to others, they move on to other ventures in due time. The number of start-ups has suffered a significant decline in the last decade. In retail it is the big-box companies that are pushing out the small mom-and-pop shops, manufacturing has been sidelined by cheaper labor in emerging markets, and big-tech is eating up anything that looks the least bit appetizing. However, the real entrepreneurs will rise up and power the future with fresh ideas and practices, because it is in their nature to do so.