By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author's program note. This is an article about bold, visionary, business risk- takers called "entrepreneurs". Such people, by their intelligence, diligence, and shear bravado, overawe movie and sports stars in public awareness and regard and dwarf any renown which may come with mere public office, even the most high.
Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our age; never have they been more discussed, emulated, venerated and even worshipped as they are right now. On campuses around the nation and the world, the giants of entrepreneurial fame draw standing room only crowds while mere authors, statesmen, and musicians take second place, or worse.
Oh, yes, these are the heady days for entrepreneurs. It is no wonder you wish to enroll yourself amongst their ranks. But are you really cut out to be an entrepreneur? This article will make that clear, one way or the other.
To put you in the right frame of mind, I've selected the theme music for the hit television series "Star Trek", which celebrates those who boldly go where no man has gone before. This music was composed by Alexander Courage for the series which debued in 1966. It is highly suitable for those who don't merely move into the future... they create it. You can easily find it in any search engine. Get it now... turn up the volume... and closely follow the points in this article which will make it clear whether you will captain your own Starship Enterprise, or not...
What is an entrepreneur? Let's start with the definition.
Entrepreneur was originally a French word taken over lock, stock and barrel by the English speaking world, much to the dismay of the Academie Francaise, official guardian of the French language. Its definition is "One who undertakes to start and conduct an enterprise or business, assuming full control and risk." Now let's see if you are this person.
1) Entrepreneurs see the world not just as it is... but as it should be. From this fundamental fact about entrepreneurs all other facts derive.
Scratch an entrepreneur and you'll find a person who is not just tinkering with human reality today... but has been tinkering with it right from the get-go, even from the cradle. They never see just what is... in their mind's eye they see each and every situation as it can be... must be; they have only to do their bit.
2) Entrepreneurs say with Harry S. Truman, who proved as president of these United States to have the soul and inclinations of an entrepreneur, that "You can't have anything worth while without difficulties". And, "Mistakes would be made. No one who accomplished things could expect to avoid mistakes. Only those who did nothing made no mistakes."
Those without the blood and fiber of an entrepreneur live their lives in chagrined remembrance for all the mistakes, errors, miscalculations and bonehead decisions they have already made... and are sure, given the chance, they will make again. This paralyzes them... for they are sure that when they decide, that decision will be wrong. On this destructive basis no progress is ever possible.
Entrepreneurs are very different.
Each and every decision made opens the possibility for error. This is the real world in which entrepreneurs live and flourish... accepting whatever transpires as yet another valuable learning step, as they walk the road to improving the human condition.
3) Entrepreneurs are "people-people". They understand their work, all their work, is for people, unlike those without the entrepreneurial wherewithal who, in this withering phrase, "love humanity but hate people."
An entrepreneur looks at a given situation and sees people unable to fulfill their God- given potential because of a condition, an obstacle which can, given the idea, the desire, the resources, and their own time and energy, be changed, improved, or even eradicated, sent to the scrap heap of invidious, enfeebling circumstances that the collectivity of entrepreneurs and their active, can-do ways have removed as obstacles to the perfectibility of mankind.
In short, while others immerse themselves in fallibilities and dismay, the entrepreneur activates Teddy Roosevelt's celebrated recommendation to "do the best you can, with what you've got, where you are."
They know to the depths of their being that there is nothing so wrong that cannot be righted by the sum and substance of their parts, their humanity, their problem-solving capabilities... and that je ne sais quoi that distinguishes them from the run of mankind which sees obstacles as finalities... not challenges which they can meet... with grace, joy, and gratitude that they had the chance to serve.
4) Entrepreneurs crash, burn, hurt... and get up to try it all over again.
In the international best-seller "Zorba the Greek" (published 1964), author Mikis Theodarakis writes of a young English entrepreneur who gets entangled with and wiped out by the bad advice and worse assistance of Zorba, who is at best a con man. He follows Zorba's catastrophic advice... and in a memorable scene watches as the Rube Goldberg machine Zorba has created collapses, costing the entrepreneur every cent he has... and more. For an instant, stunned by the implosion of all his prospects, every dream and expectation, he is stupified, angry, lost. Then he shows the true grit of even the grieving entrepreneur, "Teach me to dance," he asks Zorba, not at all the line we expected... but should have. It is what a real entrepreneur would say... and dance the sirtaki.
This is how entrepreneurs face catastrophe... for as Thomas Alva Edison, revered of American entrepreneurs, said, “I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work”, commenting on what he learned from the exasperation of years of "failure." Sublime.
5) Entrepreneurs uplift, never cast down.
No one knows better than an entrepreneur how difficult the improvement of the human condition can be; certainly those without the entrepreneurial disposition and experience cannot.
Thus, on any opportunity, wherever they happen to be, entrepreneurs lift up, encourage, and ease the way. Thus they administer in friendship and human solidarity essential truths and elements which have benefited them and from which hopeful others may benefit, too.
Entrepreneurs carry with them at all times, truths and insights derived from their unique vantage points, practical advice and admonitions, steady advice, always utilitarian, on what to do... and what not to. They never think, as those without entrepreneurial proclivities do, that to give to others is to diminish yourself. Their point of view is radically different -- and always helpful.
And one more thing...
Entrepreneurs, however much they have managed to achieve alone, know that their success is always predicated upon the dedicated assistance and endeavors of the crucial people who constitute their team. It is their honor, their pride and responsibility to recognize and thank these sinews of their success, and they are glad to do so.
When was the last time you did as much for the good people who have helped you? Isn't it time you did, you who aspire to be an entrepreneur?
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author's permission by Nicole King.