The classic definition of an Entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of the profit.” To put it simply, an entrepreneur is someone who develops a business model, acquires the necessary physical and human capital to start a new venture, operationalizes it and is responsible for its success or failure.
It has never been easier or cheaper to start a company that can grow to scale. Thanks to open-source software, social media platforms, broadband penetration, and – not least – the efforts of innovators; the cost of launching a tech business has plummeted by 90 percent or more since 2000. However, there are some facts that keep individuals reserved and away from starting up their own businesses. The idea that anyone can launch a company feeds the illusion that building a company is easy. Launching is one thing. The real work of entrepreneurship comes with sustaining the company – meeting payroll week after week, hitting growth metrics, expanding without a cash squeeze, and growing yourself as a leader. And that is very hard work, indeed. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel-winning economist Daniel Kahneman has admiringly cited a study suggesting that governments cease encouraging entrepreneurship. Since most would-be company builders end up disappointed, that study reasoned, citizens will be happier overall if fewer try to become entrepreneurs.
That point of view may be considered a little extreme. However, if you are taking the plunge because you believe entrepreneurship has suddenly become an easy and cost-free path to fame and fortune, you are kidding yourself.
The bad news is that the data show that you will almost certainly fail. And the good news is, if you aren’t afraid of failure, and want to start a company for the right reasons, there has never been a better time to do it.
It requires some luck to become a successful entrepreneur. But it also takes more than pure luck to hit it big: there’s a reason the top founders are as successful as they are. Even with fame and fortune, it takes much more to successfully start and maintain a business.
Those who have formed multiple companies or helped create the highest-impact and most profitable businesses have been successful because of the traits and habits they intentionally cultivated. The qualities they have might seem intrinsic, but they’re by no means unlearnable. Successful entrepreneurs spend years refining and practicing their craft, meaning anybody has the potential to develop these abilities with the right focus and effort. Doing so not only helps you run a business, but it also improves your output in everyday life. To begin with, an individual should be very passionate with what he or she is engaging in, since passion requires that a person should completely love what he or she is doing. Being an entrepreneur requires well-above-average amounts of work and mental energy. Therefore, without intense passion and energy for the work at hand, consistent effort isn’t sustainable over time.
The other entrepreneurial mindset feature is risk taking. Getting into a new business is always a risk and involves perils. For instance, an entrepreneur is not assured that the business will ultimately generate profits or that he/she will not end up losing personal equity. Consequently, it takes grit and determination to start a business and deal with the ups and downs that come along with it. The best founders refuse to give up. When a situation gets tough, instead of looking for ways out, they embrace the challenge. It’s not any easier for them. They are simply more willing to persevere through the stress and have sleepless nights to meet their goal.
The traditional entrepreneurial mindset however differs a great deal from the modern mindset since traditional entrepreneurs have a mind that is more fixed while modern counterparts have a more flexible growth mindset. The intelligence level in a fixed mindset is often static while that of a growth mindset is always growing. Traditionally, entrepreneurs could avoid challenges in an effort to appear smart as opposed to modern ones who embrace challenges as they come with the desire to learn from them. An entrepreneur with a growth mindset also embraces criticism while traditional mindset entrepreneurs always assume negative feedback and even avoid learning from critics. An entrepreneur also generates new business ideas via a thorough market research and reinvents an older idea. Market research is a continuous process that involves going around to the potential market area and identifying businesses in existence. During the visit, an entrepreneur will focus on the issue in a given market area. Therefore, he or she generates an ideal problem inventory analysis, a method that is quite effective in generating new ideas as well as solutions by focusing on issues.
We can now turn to some famous examples of entrepreneurs who have succeeded despite heavy odds because they had game changing ideas and more importantly, they also had the necessary traits and skills that would make them legendary. For instance, both the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, and the founder of Apple, the late Steve Jobs, were college dropouts. However, their eventual success meant that they not only had truly innovative ideas, but they were also ready to strike it out for the longer term and hang on when the going got tough. Even the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Google’s Larry Paige and Sergey Brian can be considered as truly revolutionary entrepreneurs. What all these luminaries have in common is that they had the vision and the sense of mission that they were going to change the world and with hard work, perseverance, and a nurturing ecosystem, they were able to self-actualize.
Finally, note the use of the term ’nurturing ecosystem’. This means that just as entrepreneurs cannot succeed if they lack the necessary attributes, they also cannot succeed even if they have them but live in an environment or a country that does not encourage risk or tolerate failure and worse still, is unable to provide them with the monetary and human capital needed for success. Sadly, in many countries, it is often impossible or difficult to find funding, to work through the red tape, and ensure that the environmental factors do not inhibit entrepreneurship and stop individuals from living their dreams.