I don’t like the term “entrepreneur.” It’s not because it comes from French, though the word does have an interesting etymology. The first time the word was used in English, borrowed from Old French, it meant a “manager or promoter of a theatrical production” (source). The word has a different meaning now. Anyone who runs a business is an entrepreneur, but the word’s connotation goes beyond a dictionary definition.
Entrepreneurs are driven, singularly focused, relentless, and in some cases, shady or sleazy. Not all share these negative aspects, but I often think of a man trying hard to sell his products or services to a mismatched customer, perhaps bending the truth or relying on unsophisticated marketing tactics. These aspects come to mind when someone is identified as an entrepreneur, even if it is not always true. Thus, I don’t particularly like being considered an entrepreneur, though I am happy to call myself a business owner.
Jay Goltz is offering ten reasons entrepreneurs succeed. Not all succeed, but those who do perhaps share some of these values, motivations, or tactics. Here is what he is offering:
1. Look for opportunities to do something better than just about everyone else.
2. Accept risk as a necessary evil. It makes for much less competition.
3. Act responsibly to customers, employees and vendors.
4. Goals aren’t enough. You need a plan. You need to execute the plan.
5. You need to fix the plan as you go. Learn from your mistakes. Most people don’t.
6. Do not reinvent the wheel. Learn from others — join a business group.
7. Make sure the math works. I know plenty of people who work hard and follow their passion but the math doesn’t work. If the math doesn’t work, neither does the business.
8. Make sure that every employee understands and works toward the mission.
9. There are going to difficult times and you need to be resilient; whining is a waste of time.
10. There will be sacrifices. Work to find a balance so that you don’t become a financially successful loser. It’s not about the income, it’s about the outcome.
Interestingly, reason number ten fits with my preconceived notion of an entrepreneur. The quest for income at the expense of all else is an unappealing quality. It’s reason number one, however, that resonates the most with me. I also feel strongly about number seven, following a passion. Sometimes, your passion will lead you to something you can do better than most other people, a state in which you have something special to offer.
What other tips do you have for entrepreneurs?
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Published or updated September 1, 2010.