I was going to write an article on how to become an entrepreneur. However, as I was planning out the article I realised that there is no set point at which one “becomes” an entrepreneur. It’s not as if one moment you are not an entrepreneur and the next you are! Instead it makes much more sense to talk about how to be an entrepreneur. Or the state of being an entrepreneur.
Being an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is much more about mindset than it is about formal qualifications or levels of achievement.
We tend to associate the word with megarich tech start-up founders. This is not a particularly helpful stereotype and skews the way that we think about entrepreneurship.
Instead, as discussed in a previous blog article on what do entrepreneurs do we talked about their real role being problem-solving.
Often these are problems that are found in the business world and as a result the entrepreneurs become very wealthy because of their high skills in solving problems.
But we find entrepreneurial people outside of the business world. For example in charities and nonprofits, education, and other large non-business organisations. We find entrepreneurship in our local communities. We even see it in young children who don’t even have a concept of money!
Want to see a real entrepreneur? Go and read about William Kamkwamba or check out the film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. At age 14, after reading a basic primer on electricity, William bolted together a wind turbine from scrap metal and bicycle parts to power his family home and later provide clean drinking water to his village. That’s entrepreneurship.
Then what is an entrepreneur?
Instead being an entrepreneur starts with connecting the dots. Finding connections between things that other people do not see. Having a slighted tilted perspective that lets us see what others do not.
But this alone is not entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is also about taking this insight and acting upon it. Being an entrepreneur means making things happen: entrepreneurs are doers.
Part of this action focused life includes an increased tolerance for risk. This does not mean that entrepreneurs are risk lovers: they do not take risks for the sake of taking a risk like a gambler would.
Instead, being an entrepreneur means looking at a situation where there is both upside and downside and ensuring that the rewards are high enough to match the risk.
As an entrepreneur you always want a situation where the upsides are potentially limitless whilst the downsides are finite. Those are the bets to take.
Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset
That does not however mean that there is no risk of failure. Being an entrepreneur means being comfortable with failure, being comfortable with things not working out how they were planned. For an entrepreneur failure is an opportunity to learn.
This ties into the fact that entrepreneurs possess a growth mindset. Being an entrepreneur means knowing your limitations but not being constrained by them. Instead recognising that there is always room to grow and push past limitations by following a growth orientated mindset.
This is opposed to a static fixed mindset which sees limitations everywhere and any failure causes immediate shutdown. Most people will not even take a small risk for fear of failure. Being an entrepreneur means that you are comfortable taking these risks where others freeze in inaction.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not about your degree, your education, your accolades, the people you know, the funding you’ve raised or the businesses that you’ve launched.
Instead it is more helpful to think about how to “be” an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship is about how you think. It is not exclusive. Anyone can be an entrepreneur as long as they get their head right.
Can anyone be an entrepreneur?
This does not mean that everybody can be an entrepreneur. Some of us are just not wired that way: instead some people are happier to remain in a fixed state, tolerating less risk, unwilling to fail and grow from mistakes. And that’s fine. Those people most likely will be content with their lives!
It is instead the entrepreneurs – those always striving for growth – who will always be discontent. Sorry!
We will always be looking for the next thing, the next improvement, the next adventure. It’s just how we are built and there is no way around this.
Neither is objectively better or worse. Simply different.
Following the entrepreneur’s path will certainly set you on a harder route through life but it is one, I personally believe, that is far more rewarding and productive.
Of course: I’m wildly biased! But if you are here reading this then you probably are too!