Entrepreneurs start with an idea; they nurture and grow that idea into a viable business. While there will be stresses and successes along the way, their business will thrive with careful planning and strategic partnerships. They will surround themselves with people who can help them grow the business and transition it to secure their future and the well-being of their family.
Back in 1984, Joe Jackson’s horn-infused, jazz-pop song1 You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) was a fixture on popular radio and riding high in the Billboard charts.2 While the format and delivery of music has changed dramatically over the last 30 years,3 for entrepreneurs the message of that song is as important now as it has ever been.
An entrepreneur is much more than just a business owner. An entrepreneur is the driving force in their business; always thinking about it, innovating and making changes so that they and their business can succeed in a big way. An entrepreneur is not locked into a traditional corporate mindset where change may happen slowly and incrementally after numerous checks and balances. In contrast, the entrepreneur knows what is wanted and takes calculated risks to capture emerging opportunities as they appear in order to earn big payoffs. This entrepreneurial spirit provides the entrepreneur with the motivation, resources and financial ability to do what they want.
Interestingly, in Six Myths of Entrepreneurship,4 a lecture from the MIT Open Courseware New Enterprises course on iTunesU, entrepreneurs are defined by the qualities they do not have.
They are not:
Necessarily the highest-achieving people in their academic programs – instead they are highly passionate about things that specifically interest them and focus on those areas.
Individualists – they are actually team builders who recognize value in surrounding themselves with the right people.
Born with an innate talent for business – the skills necessary to be a very successful entrepreneur can be learned, often by trial and error.
Reckless risk takers – rather they capitalize on their in-depth knowledge, taking calculated risks in the areas where they are more knowledgeable than others and use this difference to gain competitive advantages.
Just charismatic individuals – rather, entrepreneurs have strong leadership abilities that allow them to effect necessary changes.
Undisciplined – entrepreneurs use their passion and know-how to take the limited resources they have – especially time – and use those resources effectively.
In summary, an entrepreneur must have the spirit of a pirate and the commitment of a Navy SEAL to be able to realize the success they seek.
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1 Body and Soul [iTunes Joe Jackson album review]. Album released 1984 on A&M Records Ltd.
2 Joe Jackson [AllMusic artist biography]. Ruhlmann, W.
3 Getting Ahead: The Financial Challenges for Generations X and Y. BMO Wealth Institute, February 2014.
4 New Enterprises. Aulet, W., Anderson, H., and Marx, M. MIT Open Courseware, 2013.
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