The DNA of an Entrepreneur

Going back a year or two I appeared on the front cover of Talk Business, the magazine for entrepreneurs written by entrepreneurs. Above is a birthday card they send me later that year.

So when I was asked the other day on twitter what I thought the difference was between an Entrepreneur and others ‘in business’ I thought back to that cover on Talk Business Magazine when considering my answer. It is a question which has come up a few times over my 50 years as an entrepreneur and being ‘in business’, so I didn’t need to think long.

So is there a difference and, if so, what is it?

I believe that there is a difference and in fact it is quite profound. It is this! An entrepreneur, a true entrepreneur that is, is ‘driven’ to create enterprises, not necessarily for the desire for money but for the desire to create something of their own.

In a way, the true entrepreneur is equivalent to a novelist who firstly creates a story in his or her mind and then brings it to life by many hours, or even years, of gruelling hard graft mixed with inspiration, aspiration and sometimes desperation!

The story unfolds as the book progresses. It is in fact the brainchild of its creator. It is in all reality the biological baby of its creator, whereas in the case of a biographer, however brilliant, the story is someone else’s, it is the adopted child brought to life as a book by someone else. It is factually the subject’s story not that of the biographer.

A new enterprise begins in the mind of the entrepreneur who has an idea and is driven to bring it to life so starts to think about how he or she might do that. Where do I get some startup capital? Where can I work from? How can I acquire the knowledge I need? What will people think of me if I fail? Will my idea really work?

The hard work required to make the initial idea a success is nearly always underestimated.

All these issues are overcome by the pure desire to see the idea become reality. In other words to see the baby born. Risks will need to be taken and to succeed the entrepreneur will need to take quite a few.

There are no guarantees in the life of an entrepreneur. No guaranteed wage, no holiday pay, no pension or sick pay. He or she may have to work 100 hour weeks without any guarantees for many years to succeed.

This creative mindset is different to a biographer, who I equate to a business manager, who might simply record facts as given to him or her during an interview with a celebrity. Developing a written biography is just as difficult as developing a story line for a novel but the mindset and approach is different. The mindset of the biographer or person who manages a business might be predominantly logical, whereas the dominant mindset of the successful entrepreneur is almost certainly lateral.

Managing businesses day to day is a logical exercise it doesn’t need entrepreneurial flair as much as it needs managerial expertise.

My own story is that of an entrepreneur, even today it isn’t the running of businesses really interests me, it is the creation of new ones. I thrive on doing deals not running businesses. After we have got a new idea or business off the ground I prefer to give the day to day running over to the men and women of business to deliver the end result, even if I do check in frequently to check how my baby is growing.

When I first approached the now famous red Phonebox on the council estate where I lived with my dad, my mind wasn’t on failure or how I would run my business should my idea work, it was on getting it started and working it out from there.

People in my office often say “do us all a favour and stay in for a day or two while we get on top of the new idea you had yesterday”.

This indeed can be a problem, unless the entrepreneur understands his or her faults in this regard it can lead to being too dispersed. A lack of focus is what often leads to failure.

The entrepreneur, who by his or her nature is an optimist, usually dusts themselves down and starts something else should it all go wrong. Sometimes they go back to the failed enterprise and approach it in a different way until it does work.

Entrepreneurs rarely make good employees but without them there would be less employees because there would be less businesses to employ them.

Enterprise is the bedrock of society and any Government that doesn’t encourage entrepreneurs to flourish usually end up overseeing a collapse of its economy.

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