Tag Archive for 'entrepreneur characteristics'

The rare and wild entrepreneur

If you venture into the marketplace jungle, you may be able to observe that rare wild creature, the entrepreneur, in his or her natural environment (darting is not necessary, entrepreneurs are very gentle - just rub their stomachs). As you study them, you will find levels of vision, curiosity, courage, tenacity, and faith. Here’s what to look for in order to identify this elusive critter:

Vision: Entrepreneurs see things and consider the possibilities before they exist, even as the world is telling them, “It won’t work.” When entrepreneurs are deep into their vision they go into what their families call a “zone,” which is when it’s easiest to slip up on them.

Curiosity: Entrepreneurs ask questions other humans don’t. They can’t help it. If someone asks you a question and you have no idea what they are talking about, you are probably having a close encounter with an entrepreneur. Don’t be irreverent; you might be at ground-zero of the 21st century equivalent of Velcro or the microchip.

Courage: Entrepreneurs attempt things that other human species won’t. As you peer through the triple canopy at your subject, look for death-defying acts in the face of conventional wisdom. Entrepreneurs eat conventional wisdom for breakfast.

Tenacity: Entrepreneurs keep trying when other humans give up. They have a high pain threshold, which when combined with a visceral desire that can only be compared to the maternal instinct, delivers a primal display of tenacity which often is frightening to other humans. If the entrepreneur you are observing is crouching, lie down quickly. You probably aren’t in danger, but fainting is a possibility.

Faith: Entrepreneurs believe in themselves and their vision. The great writer and even greater curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken, once said, “Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the illogical.” That’s our entrepreneur! If you see someone demonstrating an inordinate commitment to an “illogical belief,” congratulations. You’ve found your entrepreneur.

Catch and release, please.

What is the definition of entrepreneur?

One of the most interesting debates in the past decade is around the definition of an entrepreneur.

Some experts take a very narrow position by saying an entrepreneur is only someone whose business idea can scale to national reach, like the founders of Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. Others cast a much wider net to include anyone who takes a business risk.

Here is my very broad definition: An entrepreneur attempts to create a new product, service or solution while accepting responsibility for the results.

Notice this definition doesn’t refer to profit or equity or even business. But it does infer what I consider the following critical elements of entrepreneurship, including a relationship with the abiding twins of any entrepreneurial endeavor – success and failure.

Ownership: Whether in the literal equity sense, as in business ownership, or an entrepreneurial employee who takes initiative and assumes ownership of the performance of a team or project, entrepreneurship does not happen unless someone takes ownership of execution and results.

Courage: This is the backbone of entrepreneurial behavior because the stakes are always high. Failure can manifest in many forms, including financial loss, professional setbacks and personal embarrassment. Nothing entrepreneurial happens until conviction raises the level of courage above the fear of failure.

Curiosity: Curiosity is the face of entrepreneurship because the eyes see what isn’t there, the ears hear sounds others miss, the nose smells opportunity, and the mouth asks “What if?” There are many business owners who are not curious, but there are no entrepreneurs who aren’t driven by curiosity.

Vision: A futurist is someone who makes a living connecting the dots into a picture before it is evident to others. Entrepreneurs are futurists when they envision an opportunity or solution associated with their industry, discipline or assignment.

Risk: Successful entrepreneurs are not foolhardy; they gauge their risk tolerance based on the potential emotional, professional and financial costs. Entrepreneurs take risks knowing that whether they succeed or fail, they will learn something useful.

Redemption: Plans often don’t go as envisioned. Successfully resetting and refocusing – for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial employees – requires an answer to the most powerful question in the quest for entrepreneurial excellence: “What did we learn?”

The 21st century needs all kinds of entrepreneurs.

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