Most entrepreneurs aren’t

What’s your understanding of the word entrepreneur? A visionary? An innovator? A risk taker? An opportunity spotter? A paradigm shifter? (Remember the 90s? Paradigm shift was the disrupt of its time.)

This is how we’ve come to see entrepreneurs today. People who create a fresh, energised, boundary-pushing business around an opportunity.

According to research by Australian bank NAB, roughly 50% of men and 40% of women reckon they have good to excellent levels of entrepreneurship.

This same research indicates that roughly 30% of Australians want to start their own business (rising to 50% amongst younger Australians).

What types of businesses? The most popular are food and retail, followed by IT, building trade and personal services.

Now take a look at the definition of entrepreneur.

Most dictionaries define an entrepreneur as someone who starts a business. That’s it. Basically anyone who chooses to go it alone, to leave the relative security of full time employment qualifies.

And this is the problem. A third of us like the idea of working for ourselves. We like it because we don’t have anyone to answer to. We like it because it gives us the freedom to go surfing when the break is pumping. And that’s it. We have no real interest in innovating. Our choice to work for ourselves is about freedom.

The food or retail or IT or tradie business these Australians start will not be entrepreneurial in the creative sense.

They will follow a tried and true formula. The café’s menu will look like any other café’s menu. The retailer will carry the same range carried by dozens of other retailers. The plumber’s van will look like every other plumber’s van with a logo that’s interchangeable with other plumbers’ logos. The café owner and IT specialist and plumber will set prices in line with the competition.

Let’s say you want to be seen as an entrepreneur, not in the dictionary’s definition of it, but in our common understanding of it. You want to be seen as Jobs Jr.

Do you have what it takes to be a true entrepreneur in the creative sense?

Let’s see.

1. True entrepreneurs create opportunities

Anyone can spot an opportunity. When I lived in Mexico City, umbrella vendors would appear on street corners in the wet season. They saw an opportunity to sell umbrellas. That’s enterprise.

Entrepreneurs create opportunities where none seemed to exist. The launch of iTunes knocked the record labels for six and forever changed the music distribution model. That’s entrepreneurship.

2. True entrepreneurs have infinite ideas

Entrepreneurs are forever coming up with ideas, in fields in which they have no expertise. They have more ideas than they have time to develop. They often keep a file of their ideas. So they don’t forget them.

They create ways to get their ideas to market. They find collaborators with the technology or network to bring an idea to life. They sell their concept to someone with the time to develop it. They move on.

3. True entrepreneurs bore easily

Some people like the fact that they become expert in their chosen field and thereby become efficient at it. Not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur needs a challenge. And there’s no challenge in completing a task faster or easier than others can.

A mind that’s perpetually jumping from idea to idea tires of focusing on one task day after day.

4. True entrepreneurs are promiscuous

They are driven by ideas. They don’t care what they are, what technology is involved, what sectors they are for. It’s all about the idea.

That’s why so many entrepreneurs jump from startup to startup or sector to sector. And why employers should move entrepreneurial staff members around frequently.

5. True entrepreneurs don’t retire

Entrepreneurship isn’t a career. It’s a state of mind. As long as he or she is breathing, an entrepreneur’s mind is active.

Their minds are so practised at creative thinking that they are always thinking of new ways to solve an old problem or new applications for existing technology.

6. True entrepreneurs have vision

Most business owners set goals. Earn X. Grow by Y. The focus is on business performance.

Entrepreneurs have a grand vision. They’re driven by a desire to make a difference. That drive remains valid no matter what business they focus on. Steve Jobs was driven by his vision – to put a dent in the universe.

If you relate to each of these 6 behaviours, if you find business ideas popping into your head all the time, if you get bored because you do your job too easily, if you can’t imagine ever retiring, if you want to make a difference in everything you do, you’re a true entrepreneur.

You might go into food or retail or IT or building trade or personal services. But you will do it in a way that hasn’t been done before.

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