An entrepreneur often likes the idea of being an entrepreneur. For a lot of people, it sounds cool. There’s a mystique to it. In reality, being an entrepreneur is rarely glamorous. Earlier today, I read a great account of a new biography of the guys who started Twitter. Today, they’re celebrating. Years ago, they weren’t. People really notice entrepreneurship during the peaks – not the valleys.
And wealth? Studies I’ve read show that entrepreneurs tend to be happier – but not wealthier – than their corporate counterparts. That says a lot.
A Cool Idea Doesn’t Make Someone An Entrepreneur
Being “willing to risk loss in order to make money” is one definition of “entrepreneur.”
Another definition that I particularly like is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”
The key terms there are organize, manage, and risk.
Someone who has ideas is creative or inventive. That person has imagination, but they may not have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. At the same time, someone who is an entrepreneur might not be especially creative, although creativity helps. The differentiators are the ability to organize and manage, plus a stomach that can handle risk.
There’s a great book called The E-Myth Revisited that’s been around for years. It still resonates, and it forever changed the way that I view entrepreneurship. It peeled away some of that mystique and revealed a lot of what it takes to be the kind of person that pursues starting or operating a business. Everyone – including those immersed in corporate culture – can gain insights from this book.
Tackling the term “visionary,” however, is for a whole other blog article.
What Inspired This Take on Entrepreneurship
There’s a favorite pizza place near my house. Over the years, my family and I have gotten to know the owner, who we’ll call Sam.
They have carved out a very successful business in a highly competitive space, in a highly competitive location. Some nights, the line is out the door. But, people wait.
I know for a fact that Sam works . . . a lot. I also know that Sam innovates with a product offering that is fairly limiting. His risk-taking has paid off with a dedicated clientele. One night I asked him about a recent business decision he had made, and he passionately rattled off the differentiators between his restaurant and the local competition that led to that decision.
Another evening, I saw Sam actually in the back of the kitchen making some pizzas, which is unusual. He’s almost always out on the floor or in the office. And, since that evening, I’ve reflected on this and the meaning of entrepreneurship.
Sam so intimately knows the nuts and bolts of his business that he can jump into a role, if absolutely necessary. He’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, he’s not getting them dirty every day. He doesn’t have to.
If he wanted, Sam could probably have four or five other locations. But, he should definitely read The E-Myth Revisited first.