You Need to Be Born an Entrepreneur

Last week, Brad Feld had beers with many people in Vancouver who call themselves entrepreneurs.  Brad asked many of those in the room if they were leaders and “doers,” qualities (I’m assuming) that are often associated with being an entrepreneur.   But is there something more? 

If this article in today’s Globe and Mail about Charles Sirois– Chairman of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Chairman and CEO of Enablis Entrepreneurial Network and Founder and controlling shareholder of Telesystem–is any indication, there might be.

In the article, Mr. Sirois talks mostly about Enablis, his non-profit venture that grew out of the G8 Summit for developing entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Developing entrepreneurs is a bit like making a cake. You need many ingredients, and they need to come in the right proportion at the right time. Money or capital is just one of the ingredients. We try to give them a set of values, a set of knowledge and a set of tools so that by themselves they can face adversity and grow.

His thoughts on being an entrepreneur?

My view is you need to be born an entrepreneur. It is an attitude where you are ready to live with a certain amount of risk. You start with a dream which is converted into a vision and into a reality. I have started more than 20 companies from scratch, which were all once just a piece of paper. One day you say, ‘Boy, that would be a good idea.’ After that, you start to put meat on the idea, you start to identify the resources you will need, you build a business plan, you convince investors, you bring the right management. I’ve done that many, many times.

His biggest lesson from the last decade to learn from?

To put risk into the equation. When you are a young entrepreneur, you don’t see risk. Maybe this is why you become an entrepreneur. But if taking risk is part of your life, you need to understand it. And if you understand the level of risk, you can still build the enterprise. I also believe you need to have people around you who are smarter than you in many fields. Enterprise is not a money business – it is a people business.

And lastly, as he says,

Canada is just a big kitchen and we are all in that kitchen. Sometimes it is crowded, and we all eat around the same table.