What is an Entrepreneur?

What is an entrepreneur? You can ask virtually any other question and be able to find an easier answer than to try to define an entrepreneur. Technically it is probably simpler to describe then to define.

Literally, an entrepreneur is somebody who manages a business, takes risks and uses initiative to make it successful. The problem with this definition is that most entrepreneurs did not find instant success and often failed before making it on their second or third attempt.

One distinguishing mark of an entrepreneur is that they focus on a niche or opportunity that has as yet been unfulfilled or not been exploited properly, either because there is still room in the marketplace for one more, or is very new and not yet noticed by the more established companies.

Some American universities tried entrepreneur classes to make best use of the available talent, but I believe that entrepreneurs are neither trained nor taught. They just appear to happen, and perhaps it is intelligence combined with opportunity that makes an entrepreneur. Had the opportunity not arisen for Richard Branson to secure that store in Oxford Street would Virgin records have been born? Perhaps not. Had Alan Sugar not been there at that specific point in time when electronic goods hit a boom period would he have been the success he was? Who knows.

One of the problems an entrepreneur has is that they want to be personally involved in every aspect of their business. They have likely started the business up themselves, probably even seen the opening and opportunity and even created the product such as James Dyson did. Once the business begins to expand they find it difficult to let go of the reins, and whilst brilliant inventors or originators, they might not be the best businessmen.

An entrepreneur has to have some business acumen but not necessarily have the ability to run a large company. There are often conflicts when the business grows rapidly and the entrepreneur cannot accept that there are differences between running a small business and a large successful company. The problems generally occur when the company goes public and a chairman and board of directors are appointed.

Because entrepreneurs do not necessarily need to have a business brain in the beginning, some allow the opportunity for the shareholders to determine the board. Once the company has been established the entrepreneurs can become a liability to the business because they have no more meaningful input to provide in the latter stages. Since disagreement and friction then arises the entrepreneur will frequently leave to start up a new venture, or be forced out by the board or the shareholders.

Entrepreneurialism is an indefinable quality that is possessed by only a few but desired by many. However, the true entrepreneur will not be discouraged by failure, but will plug that gap in the market ignoring all the doom mongers. Once their task is done, they will seek new challenges and solve new problems.

Thomas Edison said “I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.” Mary Kay Ash said “Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel”. So if you put them together, the entrepreneur finds what is needed, provides it and then refuses to accept failure.