If you have several business publications in any news aggregation app, you have seen an unending stream of articles that list the 5, 10, or 15 steps to “becoming a successful entrepreneur." If you read all these articles and try to analyze the various “qualifications” you need to be a successful entrepreneur, you will run out of time to become one.
I have been involved with startup ventures most of my life either as an owner, employee, or investor and I hate the word “entrepreneur.” The dictionary defines it as follows:
“A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
I hate to burst a lot of management consulting bubbles, but organizing and operating a business is only a small part of entrepreneurship. Someone who starts a business is not putting their financial, psychological, and physical health at risk so they can merely “organize and operate a business.” That is the last reason to take on such an endeavor.
I can’t quite get my mind around college classes, or even degrees in entrepreneurship. Some things can’t be taught in school. More often than not, people drop out of school to start companies. We need a new definition of “entrepreneurs.” I am going to call them, Creators.
I have said before that people start companies to create something, be it a law firm with a unique approach to management, or the next app that we all must have. It’s all creation, and this ambition to create has to come from deep within. No matter what you want to create, it has to be driven by an almost illogical passion to see your creation come to life. Every person I know who has started a company is a bit illogical in this sense.
Forget the 5, 10 or 15 things some writer decides are essential to being a successful Creator. There is only one thing you must accept if you are going to make it…are you willing to lose? Are you willing to lose confidence? Are you willing to lose money? Are you willing to lose the ability to separate business from your personal life? Let’s be honest: are you willing to lose your personal life?
If you’re willing to lose these things to achieve your creation, you have a chance to make it. Once you start the process there is no stopping. It will consume your thoughts every second of every day. Forget about what anyone else has done to become a successful “entrepreneur.” It’s not relevant to your journey. After the company gets going, other people will figure out the organization and operations of the business. You will need to stay focused on creating.
I once moved into a neighborhood in a new housing development. Since we were all new to the neighborhood, we had a meet and greet. I asked one guy what he did and he told me that he was an entrepreneur. A year later, the cops were physically evicting him and his family from their home. Creating…well, it’s not for everyone. The satisfaction you get from creating something is indescribable. You don’t get it with a regular job. However, you have to be willing to lose like my neighbor did. I have used this quote from Teddy Roosevelt before, but it fits so perfectly here that I have to use it again:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Drop the mike.