Wednesday, 27 February 2013

An Entrepreneur; only for the fainthearted?


Entrepreneurs are an interesting mix and curious bread. It is very hard to define what it is to be an entrepreneur. Some cultures are more entrepreneurial than others. I would define it as someone who starts his own business from nothing or a ‘start up’ that has discovered a product or new service and builds his company from thereon. Well known examples of this, Michelin, Renault or Peugeot. Nevertheless it is commonly defined as taking on a small business or commercial venture at your own risk. You may have to pay for it or you may be offered it.
 
The best are often innovative, dynamic, and have found a purpose in contributing to where there is a need. Many have a lot of energy and self-motivation, are enterprising possessing high commercial acumen and flair. The ones that inspire would often have vision. There would certainly have to be an element of self-belief and confidence as there is a slightly larger risk involved.
 
The less enterprising ones may consider themselves entrepreneurs for other reasons; non-conformists and wanting to be ‘free’ unattached from a hierarchical authority, prying eyes, or disillusionment from corporate life or its politics. Or they just simply want to be left independent, self-employed and left alone. It could be that they were unable to enter into the corporate environment through lack of training or education amongst other reasons and were left with no alternative. In almost all these cases they have this desire to be different, fiercely independent and constantly on the hunt seeking opportunity. These ones generally thrive in a booming economy where risk is less apparent.
 
Ultimately we need them; for the simple case; the better ones can be the key drivers of growth. They can have ideas, talent and often have a lot of knowledge. Their passion comes from their ideas and offering something linked to their talent and that gives them a purpose which is a magnet to employment if it takes off. Their product or service may be better in increased value for money, new or more easily delivered for example. These types of individuals are rare now and few and far between. The tech market for example is an area where more and more entrepreneurs set up companies with new ideas with space to manoeuvre.

Personally I have mixed feelings with entrepreneurs. This is where it gets hairy. The downside; many do things their own way under their own rules and how they wish, with little regard for integrity and often lack training and education especially within the service sector. They have a tendency to purely focus on their own profit centre which can turn them easily into a takers mentality or a die-hard ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude in which they seek opportunity at all costs. Note they have no salary so they have to go and get one. This is where they can lose their sense of self. Again we come to the ‘me’ and individualistic culture. In this case the more dynamic in personality have a high stress level and continually feel edgy, more so when the market turns. The less dynamic ones who lack ideas sit and wait praying for the economy to turn under constant duress ready to pounce on the larger firms for new business.

If you were asked to set up a franchise of entrepreneurs for example and ask them to work together with the added misconception of setting up a global firm; they will not mix. Entrepreneurs are often non-conformists. It is the same if a large firm wanted to hire a person with an entrepreneurial attitude; you would have to clarify what you mean. He or she may have an allergy to culturally adapt and it may not work. Hire Richard Branson (a serial entrepreneur and unusual breed) and a little too populist, to sit on a board of global firm, things could get rocky.

I stress again. There is only one way to succeed as an entrepreneur and it is the same message almost in a business in general at all levels. You need a purpose. A purpose is about having visionary ideas and understanding to where there is a need for the contribution or benefit of others. This comes out of your experience, skill set, talent and knowledge where you can fill in the gaps in whatever capacity or form. Herewith you develop a passion, interest and an ease with your work. This way you can start up a business. You can drive its growth together with your added flair, self-belief, commercial acumen, energy and discipline if it is that way you are built. It can take off from there and the revenue will follow.

If you want to take over a venture that already exists. You may simply just be comfortable with that and manage it in your own way and how you wish; nevertheless you will still need to require the expertise, flair, know how, innovation and discipline to adapt it, change it and improve it according to the needs of the market place like in any other business.

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