Put a group of entrepreneurial elders in a room and ask then to ruminate on their path to the top, chances are you’ll hear a few similar stories. From paper boys who added groceries to deliveries for a few extra bucks, to the kids who bought pocketfuls of candy from the store on the way to school, not to get an early start on obesity, but to sell them in the playground and get an early start at being an entrepreneur.
There is undoubtedly something deep seated in the genetics of many entrepreneurs and founders that makes them do what they do. This ‘something’ gives them an ability see past what currently exists and through to the potential and opportunity that lies beyond.
The Ties That Bind
True entrepreneurial spirit commonly goes hand in hand with a desire to create growth, rather than just secure ownership. The majority of the world’s most notable entrepreneurs will have had an innate desire to create something in order to expand a market rather than just set out to compete directly with existing players. While they are capitalists and motivated by profit, at their core, they are commonly also highly motivated towards being of service to a market.
Rather than simply getting down in the trenches and battling it out with Bill Gates to compete for desk space, Steve Jobs undoubtedly had grander ideas about where personal computing could go and grew the entire market into something far, far greater. So while not all entrepreneurs start off selling gummy worms to the neighbourhood kids, along the way, they recognize opportunity and don’t seek to own it, they look to grow it.
Nature Versus Nurture
Are entrepreneurs born or made and can the ‘spirit’ that drives them to be up long before the early bird, pounding doors to keep their business going and growing, be learned?
In my experience, anyone can be a startup founder, anyone can be an entrepreneur, they just have to be willing to take the jump, and that’s the hard part. The charisma, often seen as an essential characteristic of an entrepreneur, is often the outward manifestation of a heady concoction of passion and fear. Not every entrepreneur is a consummate showman, out there wearing a white smile and glasses to the blind.
True entrepreneurs solve problems. More often than not, they recognize a problem or pain point and set out to make it better. The passion to do this often negates the fears. Some are born with it, some can learn it, but as long as passion can keep fear in check, an entrepreneur will be on the right path.
No I in Team
Leadership could be said to be a by product of entrepreneurial spirit, and the styles you see in those leading big business versus entrepreneurs, are often vastly different. Where big business offers deep rooted security and slow moving cycles, startups tend to exist with a tangible level of fear flowing through them at all times as they navigate the treacherous waters of developing for ever-evolving tastes and markets.
The best entrepreneurs become adept at handling the fear in those they assemble around them and this is because they live with it themselves. As any captain will attest, the ability to bring the best out of a team and remain poker faced in the middle of a storm is something most will encounter at some time and this can be a defining factor in not only whether a business survives, but whether the entrepreneur chooses to stay an entrepreneur and focus beyond the horizon for the next big opportunity.