The Real Meaning of Entrepreneurship
The official definitions of entrepreneur generally come down to an individual who takes on the initiative and risk of organizing and managing any business. This is a pretty basic description, perhaps better suited to the definition of business owner. Successful entrepreneurs bring something more to the table than the average guy who works for himself. They are innovators, they are independent, and they are willing to live like most people won’t in order to live like most people can’t.
Article directories and business magazines are full of advice for would-be entrepreneurs that doesn’t really fit with that title. Some experts recommend that you outsource all “non-core” tasks related to your business idea. The argument is that you should reserve your efforts for the core operations of the venture and leave all other tasks (accounting, marketing, legal issues, IT) to other professionals to handle. On the surface, this sounds great – you get to do the “fun” part and leave the boring business stuff to someone else.
The problems come when you are faced with critical business decisions – should we expand? Change direction? Are there opportunities to exploit? Threats to counter? If you do not have a solid grasp of every aspect of your business, you will not only have trouble making these decisions, but may not even know the decisions need to be made! There are hundreds (if not more) of horror stories about business owners turning over control of one aspect or another to an outside source, trusting them to do things right, and paying dearly for not taking complete responsibility for every part of their venture. Of course, there is a time and place for outsourcing time-consuming tasks, but a true entrepreneur needs to retain control over how and when the work is done, and have the knowledge and an established procedure for understanding what it all means.
The business of entrepreneurship is business – many of the most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the product or service you are offering doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fundamental business skills you apply to the venture. The basics of running a business are the same no matter what you sell, who you well it to, or where you are located. Accounting systems must be coherent and accurate in order to tell you where the business has been. The operations procedures must be well-established, consistent, and efficient to ensure the day-to-day is being run correctly. The financial and strategic planning must be based on a balance of knowledge of the past, present, and future of the business as well as fundamental business principles. Whatever field your company is in, you success or failure will all come down to business.
Nearly every definition of entrepreneur includes a reference to risk-taking. Actually, the most successful entrepreneurs avoid risk like the plague. They do so by working hard to learn the details of every aspect of their business, identifying areas of potential risk, and doing everything they can to mitigate that risk. True entrepreneurs are not particularly comfortable with risk. Rather, they thrive on the process of slaying risk as it comes.
Entrepreneurship is more than just working for yourself. It is having the drive to learn all you can, all the time, about whatever it is you do. It is the willingness to think outside the SOPs of your industry to find better, smarter, and faster ways to get the job done. It is about fighting back risk to clear the path to success. Entrepreneurs are in the business of business – they are independent and determined to take control of their own work life and financial future. It’s a tough road, and definitely not for everyone, but the payoff is unmatched.