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Are You an Entrepreneur and Does it really Matter?

11/12/2014 Anant Goel

As an entrepreneur, you surely have an elevator pitch, the 15-second synopsis of what your company does and why, and you can all but repeat it in your sleep.

But have you seen a good elevator pitch for entrepreneurship itself—that is, what you do that all entrepreneurs do? And does it really matter if you are an entrepreneur or a successful and competent businessperson− a corporate administrator.

I've seen it, and it comes from Harvard Business School, of all places. It was conceived 38 years ago by HBS professor Howard Stevenson…

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

According to Professor Stevenson…

“… People tend to define entrepreneurship almost as a personality disorder, a kind of risk addiction. But that didn’t fit the entrepreneurs I knew,” he said. “I never met an entrepreneur who got up in the morning saying ‘Where’s the most risk in today’s economy, and how can I get some? Most entrepreneurs I know are looking to lay risk off− on investors, partners, lenders, and anyone else.” As for personality, he said, “The entrepreneurs I know are all different types. They’re as likely to be wallflowers as to be the wild men of Borneo.”

By focusing on entrepreneurship as a process, Professor Stevenson’s definition opened the term to all kinds of people. Plus, it matched the one demographic fact researchers at Harvard already knew about entrepreneurs− they were more likely to start out poor than rich. “They see an opportunity and don’t feel constrained from pursuing it because they lack resources,” says Stevenson. “They’re used to making do without resources.”

 The perception of opportunity in the absence of resources helps explain much of what differentiates entrepreneurial leadership from that of corporate administrators: the emphasis on team rather than hierarchy, fast decisions rather than deliberation, and equity rather than cash compensation.

What would you expect, asks Stevenson: When you don’t have the cash to boss people around, like in a corporation, you have to create a more horizontal organization. “You hire people who want what you have, not what you don’t have,” Stevenson says. In other words, entrepreneurs offer their team members a larger share of a vision for a future payoff, rather than a smaller share of the meager resources at hand.

Opportunity is the only real resource you have as an entrepreneur…

“Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.”

And that’s what makes entrepreneurship so hard… and so very necessary.

The best person to explain what’s exactly an entrepreneur; is the entrepreneur himself… but, whoever asks them? For some reason people mostly associate the Entrepreneur with money and how much they have accumulated. When people do this they only see a little bit of the picture and there in their explanation they have missed it yet again. Some Entrepreneurs won’t ever bother talking about this subject at all, because it’s a way of thinking, easy to explain but hard for the listener to hear.

Parents in particular are guilty of this, as they are afraid to allow their children− their budding Entrepreneurs− do something that they themselves would be fearful of doing… and thus introducing their children to the real enemy fear itself. The best a parent can give a child is the freedom to grow their wings and maybe then will the child be free to think and then it will flow.

Does any of you believe that an Entrepreneur thinks, finds solutions, and takes short cuts in areas that only bring money?  Does he wear a different hat at the office? No, an entrepreneur finds the same solutions for business that make his everyday life easy! An Entrepreneur is one who has been allowed to think for himself from an early age− allowed to be him-self. If there is a negative, there has to be a positive, and an entrepreneur’s way of thinking finds it.  When others say it cannot be done, this only means they can’t do it. Do not think for a second it means you cannot do it, you can because it’s always there, find it, break the rules, go close to the edge that no one else will and it will be there.  

Why Victoria Beckham Is Not an Entrepreneur

Victoria Beckham, former Spice Girl, wife of the famous soccer star and owner of a successful fashion business has been named the UK’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Management Today, a respected British magazine.

In what seems like more of a defense of their choice than praise for the winner, the magazine’s editor, wrote: “She is what she is. And what Mrs. Beckham has created is a company that is both real and wildly successful.”

I don’t think Victoria Beckham is an entrepreneur. That’s because entrepreneurship is not just about business savvy, for which she definitely has. Or celebrity. Or wealth. Or even about financial success. She’s got all that too. It’s about the risk one takes to achieve those objectives.

For example, with the help of a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law and $5,000 that he had saved from the army, Sam Walton purchased his variety store in Arkansas in 1945 and eventually grew that into what would become Walmart. Richard Branson was once told by his headmaster that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. Instead he started his record business with next to nothing in a church basement and suffered through many successes and failures before hitting it big. For decades, Warren Buffet worked countless hours and saved his earnings while making smart investments (some winners, some losers) that eventually grew into enough of a stockpile to enable him to go off on his own and achieve unbelievable success… worth over $62 billion dollars.

These are a few of the entrepreneurs you know. And then there are thousands of other entrepreneurs you probably don’t know. These are risk takers. These are dreamers. These are entrepreneurs.

At the time she started her fashion business, Ms. Beckham was already sitting on enough money to live a thousand lifetimes. She took no substantial risks. She had plenty of capital and plenty of fame with which to launch her business. She was able to buy the best advisors and marketing help. Brand names lined up to do business with her so that they could enjoy some of the Beckham fame. And she had the backing of not only one of the most wealthy and famous soccer players in the world but was able to attract other deep pocketed investors as partners in her ventures.

I don’t begrudge Victoria Beckham for her success. She’s done a fantastic job growing and managing her business and I respect that. But she’s not an entrepreneur. Ms. Beckham is a successful and competent businesswoman. Ask any successful entrepreneur who took risks and suffered failures and they’ll tell you there is a difference… and it matters when you are poor.

[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]
 
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