Even Warren Buffett only has twenty-four hours in a day, just the same as you. Those hours away from the office, thinking about something completely different, are vital opportunities to recharge your batteries and rest before taking another leap at your project. Even trying to get a small group together for a drink can take weeks of organizing, especially when you all have families and children who need babysitters, let alone a company that has constant demands. As an entrepreneur you can end up receiving more SMS alerts from people you follow on Twitter than from real friends listed in your address book.
For your business, it might even be a good thing. Twitter has much to offer an entrepreneur beyond immediate access to something resembling a social life and the ability to communicate with interesting people without leaving the office. Some entrepreneurs show how much they identify with their customers. Evgeny Tchebotarev is a co-founder of px , a platform that allows photographers to show off their photos, and even sell licenses to businesses to use their images.
But, Evgeny is also a keen photographer himself, and he uses his Twitter account to show off his own photos, which look a lot like the sorts of photos his members upload to his site: a lot of travel images and plenty of artistic landscape imagery. Evgeny rarely uses his timeline for communications.
Instead he uses his account for fun mostly, but in the process he puts himself alongside his customers. He shows that he understands their needs because he shares their needs. If his photos are like theirs then the services that his company delivers will be services that people will like and services they will want to use and share.
Other entrepreneurs take different approaches. Tony Hsieh of Zappos has a team of people who send out tweets on his behalf. Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of Crossfit , also broadcasts messages through his Twitter timeline, mostly related to his views of health and fitness. Some of those views can be strong and controversial. Your health was sold. By giving his Twitter stream a strong personality, he gives his followers a strong reason to remain with his firm. Reading his Twitter stream is like watching an ongoing conference about health and fitness.
Every field has crazy rules, bureaucracy and dumb ways of doing things. Twitter is one of the few places where you can find people who share your main interest: the topic of your business.
You might never meet them. You might not know what they look like. You might not even know where they are. But, you can chat with them all day, exchange messages and at the same time feel a human connection and promote your company. We both love Twitter and use it to share our thoughts and connect with our audiences, peers, and industry. No entrepreneur ever wants to be an employee. But, not everyone who turns their back on a J. The number of C corporations in the United States has shrunk slightly since but the number of sole proprietorships has almost doubled from around 12 million to around 23 million.
Employees are swapping the cubicle for the spare bedroom, setting up home offices and looking for clients. Entrepreneurs are different. A business might start in a spare bedroom or a garage but for an entrepreneur, that can only be a humble beginning. Entrepreneurs need to be around people. They need to have smart colleagues to bounce ideas off, voices that challenge them, ideas that inspire them and achievements that compete with them and force them to push themselves to their limits.
For all of the stereotyping about geeks being social misfits with few friends and poor social skills, none of the major tech companies operating today are the result of a single entrepreneur building a company alone. Business experts usually describe companies as having three kinds of capital: financial capital; human capital; and social capital.
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Financial capital is the funds that allow the company to pay wages, keep the lights on, bring in raw materials and keep the servers running. Human capital is harder to measure but easier to see. And social capital is the connections and the shared values that allow a business to leverage co-operation between staff, suppliers and supporters. In a business, it may be the most important capital of all.
The benefits of social capital are felt, rather than seen, but the biggest benefit is usually the ability to increase other forms of capital. Entrepreneurs who spend time in groups have connections that are both broad and deep. That means that when an entrepreneur asks if anyone knows a talented coder or a great marketing person, they get replies and recommendations. It does the same for financial capital. The best way to do that is always through introductions. Entrepreneurs need to know people who know the investors and can give them a recommendation.
Access to venture capitalists can provide a way for entrepreneurs, like Zuckerberg, to see a company grow by hundreds of thousands of users a day. Access to the tech blogosphere and press can help percolate a fledgling start-up into a multibillion-dollar business. The ability to build social capital depends on the way that people see you. It all comes back to the process of knowing you and liking you. The result this time might not be buying from you but it will be an increased willingness to help you.
Mostly, this happens naturally. Social capital is born out of the energy you feel when you have a great time with friends. It comes out of that excitement that fills a room at a cocktail party. Entrepreneurs might struggle to find the time to meet their friends. They might not be able to get together with groups of peers and acquaintances as often as they like, but being in a group is the time they most come alive.
An entrepreneur gathers sustaining energy from a group — the group is a life force. When getting together with friends is both difficult and valuable, entrepreneurs have to choose their crowds carefully. For most people the only criteria used when forming friendships is shared humor and shared values. We like to be around people who make us laugh and who make us feel comfortable.
Do factory workers make friends easily with managers? Do retail workers invite doctors and law professors to share the barbeque and chat over a cold beer? Do we pick crowds made up of lots of different kinds of people, with different backgrounds, jobs and outlooks? Sociologists have consistently found that people who are similar in terms of income, politics and level of education tend to flock together.
We might be tolerant and open to everyone but on the whole, we make friends with people who are like us. They work hard to increase their income, and in the process they might increase their education and even switch their politics. As they move up they leave friends and acquaintances behind, and in the process, they show them what they could be if they shared their drive and their determination to succeed. That last choice happens far too often. Every entrepreneur has felt it.
Those are difficult moments. All entrepreneurs have doubts. They all have moments when pitches are met with silence, products fail, and customers and employees walk away leaving them wondering how to move forward. Those dark moments are made even darker by friends pulling them off their path; bashing them personally, or bashing their ideas. Truth is great — bashing is not. Over time, the people I keep close have changed as I have evolved as an entrepreneur and person. A mechanic who wants to open his own auto repair shop will initially hang around with the guys who passed him the spanner as he lay under the Mustang.
As he starts to hire mechanics though, his old friends will start to look at him in the same way that they see their own bosses. At the same time, the garage owner will be spending more time with other entrepreneurs. Issues that might not have concerned him before, such as parking regulations, crime rates and local business taxes will have him sitting in meetings with other local business owners.
He might start attending meetings at the local chamber of commerce and take seminars to improve his marketing and recruitment techniques. As he meets more local business owners, they introduce him to other business owners. As he becomes less of a mechanic and more of a manager, his mind expands and his social circle changes. For some old acquaintances, that process can be accelerated. None of those relationships or conversations will make you comfortable. None of them will help you through the doubts and the difficulties of being an entrepreneur that other entrepreneurs can help you with.
Entrepreneurs can keep members of their old crowd, but they rarely keep all of the members of their old crowd. They stay in touch with the people who truly respect them, understand them and wish them the best. The rest they replace. They have to. The headline said it all. Ten years earlier, having seen his online gaming company go belly-up in the dotcom crash, he had returned from a five-month surfing trip to Australia and Indonesia with the germ of an idea. Normal life stopped. The idea might have been crazy. The way he made it happen might have been even crazier.
But it also worked. Entrepreneurs are often thought of as nuts. They should be, and not just because of the new business failure rates that every entrepreneur is aware of and does it anyway. The first are ideas for products and services that are completely new. When Apple brought out the iPad, no one knew if it was going to work. There was nothing like it on the market, previous small attempts had failed and little sign that there would be a demand for a plus-sized iPod Touch.
The ability to write text messages that anyone can see sounds nuts until you lose half an hour browsing tweets. And, they may be right. Truly original products are rare. Few products come out of nowhere. Most product development takes the form of an improvement on something that people are already using. Entrepreneurs often look for a weakness in a product they otherwise love and either fill the niche or try to compete with a better version, or a cheaper version.
While it remains the most advanced tablet, it is also the most expensive and other manufacturers have filled the market with cheaper, lower tech versions. They already have a connection with customers. Some people will always think that entrepreneurs are a bit nuts. They have to be nuts to be the first to bring something new to the market, and they have to be nuts to be the second, third or fourth to bring something to the market. They have to be nuts to put in the hours they work with such a low chance of success. And they have to be nuts to take the risks that they take. We hear him whooping in pleasure as he makes Mario jump on mushrooms, then we laugh at his frustration when, fifteen seconds into the video, Mario runs straight into a wall that Brianna has made with a gap too small for the character to bounce through.
Both are happy to spend time playing computer games and both share the same sense of humor. As a speaker on women in tech, she has also become a lightning rod for Gamergate campaigners — male computer game players who have a problem with women in the video game industry. In addition to the usual long hours and worries about financial stability faced by every spouse of an entrepreneur, Frank Wu also has to support his wife through the very real death threats and hacking attacks that she receives from her opponents.
The couple have seen their personal details and private lives splashed across gamer forums, and following the advice of the police and the FBI, have even been forced to flee their home. The couple are sometimes interviewed together, and as a Hugo-award-winning science fiction artist, they also share a love of science fiction and space. Those are very different needs.
All life partners give each other emotional support; it comes with the ring, I suppose. They may also provide financial support.
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But, the life partner of an entrepreneur needs to go even further. Those are people problems. Everyone experiences them, and anyone can offer advice about how to deal with them. Often, the life partner has to do little more than listen and provide a space for their partner to vent. The issue is that entrepreneurs also bring very specific problems home.
They worry about funding rounds and development challenges. They struggle with business partners and have to battle suppliers who deliver late or not at all. They have to field complaints and motivate the same employees who are now at home venting to their life partners. When they return home, often late, they turn to the person they know best — not just for support but also for practical advice. They want to know which offer of funding they should take. They want to know which growth strategy is likely to be the most effective.
They want to know whether they should fire their talented CTO or continue to put up with his resistance to their instructions. Entrepreneurs have to make decisions. Not all entrepreneurs choose life partners who also want to run their own businesses or who even work in the same industry. Increasingly, people are choosing life partners with a similar education, similar outlooks, and similar backgrounds. Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, you have to make the most out of the life we are given so find someone that has that perspective.
It will be tough and challenging, but it will be fun and memorable, too. Life partners of entrepreneurs set themselves up for a very special way of living. The company will come first. Money will be short, at least initially. Office people may call at a moments notice, just drop in for a little help on a project — you know — open office hours day or night? But an entrepreneurs partner totally gets it, and no entrepreneur could ever succeed without the understanding and support that they receive from their life partner. There is no one entrepreneurial personality. Entrepreneurs have personalities that range from outgoing and attention-seeking to introverted and shy, from unpredictable and emotional to cool and rational.
Entrepreneurs do have personality traits. Charisma is a part of those traits. Entrepreneurs have to persuade and inspire. They have to bring employees, investors, partners, and customers with them on their journey. They know the difference between obeying the law and breaking the rules, between being opinionated and winning an argument, and between obstinacy and flexibility.
This is a good quality in that, anyone can say anything ensconced in offensive language or phrasing that gets them in trouble — but the ability to still pull out the win with a winning way is important for anyone — but especially important for an entrepreneur. They have confidence that hopefully stops them short of an arrogance that drives them into fatal mistakes. They know how to dream but they also know how to turn those dreams into a plan, and how to communicate that plan so that others are as enthusiastic as they are about making that plan real. The desk is old; it used to belong to his father.
I was. Buffett, who completed the course in January , says that it changed his life. Dale Carnegie gave Warren Buffett what every successful entrepreneur needs and few investors possess: charisma. Audiences, even skeptical ones, listen. They buy or invest. They tell their friends about the company and they value their relationship to the entrepreneur. Charisma is what makes the difference between a leader with a following and someone taking a walk alone. Some people have it naturally. When that individual moves to another part of the house, the party drifts with them.
However, that natural charisma is rare. Carnegie himself breaks making people like you into six simple lessons. Whether it is in person or an emoji, smiling helps. They can recall the names of everyone they meet, together with their birth dates, pet names and favorite colors. If they can learn how to do it, so can you. The other four strategies that Dale Carnegie recommends all come down to the same thing. He recommends being a good listener as you encourage people to talk about themselves. He suggests that you talk about the things that they find interesting, and that as they talk, you make them feel important.
And he says that you should be genuinely interested in other people. Charisma is never about what someone sees in the person who possesses it. And, what you learn when you listen to them will be valuable. It tells you who people are and what they think. It reminds you that products and success are ultimately about people and the effect the services you create have on those people. One person says otherwise, and he should know. Richard Branson has been no less successful than Steve Jobs has been and in a wider range of businesses. In a interview with Inc.
Jobs micromanaged and failed to delegate, was brusque with people and was more likely to insult them than motivate them. Entrepreneurs rarely get anywhere unless they break the rules. Before you can break the rules, you have to know the rules. You need to know what other leaders have done, what the standard route from A to B would look like and how to follow it. In the end, our way was hugely successful and that NY organization is now a global organization.
People who have been in an industry for a long time become used to doing things a certain way. They build products that look a lot like products that have sold well in the past. They market those products through the same channels that their competitors use with similar messages and to audiences that other companies before them have already identified. The founders of Whole Foods Market were the owners of two small health food stores in Austin, Texas who wondered why stores that sold organic and healthy food always had to be tiny.
They questioned the traditional way of doing things, and came up with something completely new. They made their own market. He let buyers order the parts they wanted so that they could receive a custom-built unit. The overheads were lower and customers were happier. A new entrepreneur setting up a new business will always struggle to compete against more powerful competitors doing the same thing unless they have something new to offer. Michael Dell did that when he was a high school student; he earned more than his teacher that year.
It helps too when an entrepreneur has little to lose. If he had failed, his losses would have been small and he would have had plenty of time to bounce back and try again. Rules describe how businesses operate. No one writes them; they develop by themselves like a track that many people have walked down. They ensure that all businesses compete in a fair environment and that customers can buy with confidence. Only criminals break laws; successful entrepreneurs spot opportunities and break the rules.
Before you can begin building a business, you need a certain amount of capital. You need an idea, a product, a website probably. You need to know the market. You need to know how to create the product, you need to know who is likely to buy it and you need to know how you can put it in their hands. You need to know what you can do. You need to know where you excel. And you need to know your weaknesses. None of the webinars and business conferences or information products you might buy will contain a roadmap to your personality.
Some of them might explain how you can assess yourself but it will still be up to you to conduct that assessment and understand the results. This may be the biggest challenge that any entrepreneur faces. Someone who fails to understand themselves can harm their relationships with an angry word or find themselves repeating unproductive work patterns through constant procrastination or complaining, but they muddle through. These people can apologize, fix the damage, and repair their reputation. They might not reach stellar heights of success but they can still make do and move ahead.
When an entrepreneur fails to know themselves, the business stalls. When a business struggles to grow, it soon starts to shrink. Competitors shoot past, frustration replaces momentum and as good staff starts to leave for more successful companies what they leave behind is a much weaker version of what the business should have been. Understanding our limits requires overcoming a host of different biases that psychologists say we all use unconsciously to order our world and make sense of our experience. For both of us, as entrepreneurs, we have done a significant amount of soul searching, reflection, and analysis as well as sought feedback from others to understand our limitations and then figure out how to change them.
Hindsight bias, for example, makes events that surprised us when they happened expected or even inevitable. How many times have you told yourself, long after an event, that you knew it was going to happen? You would have either prevented it or taken action that would have allowed you to profit from it.
When you say you did know, take a second to think what that actually means. Did you feel something in those moments before to which you should have paid attention? Think deeply about this. As an entrepreneur you have to pay attention to your instincts — especially if they are usually correct. Next time you have an idea cross your mind that you should maybe consider — well, take an extra few minutes and — maybe consider it! Bring it out of your mind and onto to table and make an informed decision.
If, in the end, you are right, you will trust yourself better. And, if in the end, you were wrong, you will also trust yourself better, because you heard your own inner thoughts and considered them. Hindsight bias , though, is a valuable technique because it makes the world more predictable and less frightening. It makes us feel in control. But it also allows us to oversimplify situations and prevents us from seeing the real origins of an event.
It stops us from learning. Impact bias relates to that future. That brings a danger of disappointment even at the moment of your greatest success. The most dangerous form of bias for an entrepreneur though is confirmation bias.
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Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has described it as a technique that allows the brain to think fast. There are ways around all of these biases. We all do. All entrepreneurs start with a certain amount of knowledge. Successful entrepreneurs come to know where they fall short and find great people who can fill those gaps. They also are on a continual learning curve themselves for knowledge of anything business. It takes courage to be an entrepreneur.
Not the same sort of courage that has firefighters racing up burning buildings or Marines landing on beaches. But it is the courage to take risks with money and time and effort that could so easily be avoided. It would be so much easier to look for a job and take instructions.
There would be no tough decisions and the years to retirement would be mostly clear. An entrepreneur enjoys taking risks. They get a kick out of taking control. Now, diminished mental capacity people are sometimes the most stubborn people on the planet, so you have to know which one you are. Stating my opinion that it would work was impetus for me to work that much harder to make it a reality. In business, this is an essential component. But it has a habit of leaking into areas outside the office. Okay, Musk makes big brash statements. Most entrepreneurs do this.
They can actually be an asset. When Musk started musing about building a hyperloop in California that would whisk people between Los Angeles and San Francisco in little more than half an hour, there were two reactions. The other reaction was to look at the achievements of someone who had built a multi-billion dollar online payment system, put a fast, affordable and beautiful all-electric car on the road, and was sending rockets into space, and bringing them back to land upright on landing pads in the middle of the sea, and wonder whether he should be taken seriously.
In January , Hyperloop Technologies announced the start of construction of a test track at acre facility in North Las Vegas. The company even released footage of the tubes. The problem is what happens before you reach that success. It just means that fewer people will take it seriously, at least until that platform is worth billions and those drones start operating test routes from the suburbs to the inner cities.
Everyone has ideas and everyone has opinions. Entrepreneurs do act on their ideas and they shape the opinions that other people will later claim as their own. But for an entrepreneur, that flexibility is essential. All entrepreneurs have strong opinions. Those doubts are what come before the reviews and the meetings and the decision to try something else.
But until that decision has been taken, those doubts have to be kept hidden. When employees see that the CEO is thinking twice about a product or a marketing plan, they invest less. They cut their hours, work slower, fail to check for bugs or mistakes. Nothing creates that end-of-term feeling like the sense that something is about to come to an end.
Investors and customers react in the same way. No investor is going to put money into a company unless they believe that the chief executive is completely committed to the course the company is taking. When an entrepreneur changes direction, that change will always comes suddenly. This scares some people, especially the person who does not understand business workings.
Because so many if not most companies believe they have to hide their workings, we only see a company facing in one direction one day then a completely different direction the next. But, when Microsoft released Windows 8, it continued to state that the operating system had no need for a start menu — right up until the moment it announced an update that included a return to the start menu. Microsoft could clearly see that fewer people would have upgraded. More and more people would have turned to alternatives like Macs and Chromebooks and Microsoft would have lost market share and revenues and would have taken a heavy blow to its most important product.
Microsoft was merely acting somewhat like an entrepreneur. The usual scenario in life is to present someone with evidence that their opinion is wrong and they shrug it off. We all do it. If they stick to their guns, dig in their feet, or remain in a shocked stupor — the entire firm could crash. Money will certainly continue to be lost. So, regardless of the confidence with which they once talked about their plans and their products, entrepreneurs have to change direction and indeed change their minds when their customers ask for the change.
When the facts change, their opinion has to change too, at least as far as those opinions affect the business. In business, being wrong carries a high price. Changes happen all the time, and they have to. No business ever grows without testing. When Steve Huffman announced that free speech on Reddit had its limits, he was doing his best to save a platform that had become a byword for trolling and misogyny. He and his fellow co-founders had believed that if they allowed people to say what they wanted, common decency would stop them from saying reprehensible things.
Imagine that your manager calls you into their office and informs you that from now on you will have to work longer hours, perhaps as many as twelve a day. Plus, weekends. Your pay would be cut. You will also have to pay for the desk and the chair and the computer, and even the coffee. This scenario is exactly what entrepreneurs picture in their minds, live through, and forge a path into this place every time they quit their jobs and start a business of their own.
They make this change and live in these conditions because they want their independence, but they also do it because they believe that the sacrifices they make in the short term will pay them back over the long term. They believe that they will make a lot of money in a couple of years or so, enough to overcome those lost earnings at the beginning. The entrepreneur has seen others make a go of it and find success, and they feel that they will succeed as well. Entrepreneurs know that most small businesses fail, as said before. They know that their chances of success are small.
But they also believe in themselves enough to believe that they will be the exception. The entrepreneurs believe they will be among the people who achieve that small chance of success. That belief is what makes entrepreneurs, by nature, optimists. In one survey of 3, entrepreneurs who had recently become business owners 81 percent believed that their chances of success were 70 percent or higher. A third even believed that they were percent certain to succeed. More than 50 percent overestimate it. In fact, typically 70 percent of new businesses fail within four years.
The new business, the new success, the new life — and they know they can do it. Entrepreneurs who are bringing to life a completely new idea or starting their own businesses tend to be more optimistic than people who are entering a crowded market or taking over an existing firm. Entrepreneurs with less experience in their field of activity tend to be less optimistic than people with more experience. And men are generally more optimistic than women are, which is another way of saying that men are more likely to overestimate their abilities. Confidence is necessary for any entrepreneur but overconfidence can be dangerous.
An experiment conducted in found unrealistic optimism causes entrepreneurs to behave in ways that harm their best own best interests; both professionally and personally. Optimism and overconfidence are the two most commonly reported causes of the high failure rates of new businesses.
This may be one clue for the entrepreneur to take to heart. Paid advice. The entrepreneur will need to get advice from someone who is an expert in the field that they are entering. Even if the entrepreneur is an expert themselves, outside input from a trusted person is a must. They can. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do and too bad what anyone else says. However, if a true expert is questioning the idea of the product or service itself you need to take a much closer look and give greater weight to your considerations and testing.
When entrepreneurs believe in their own abilities, their optimism can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Some research has shown that optimistic entrepreneurs perform better and more competitively in many circumstances. Optimism is what helps to drive entrepreneurs towards success, overcome their failures and focus on solutions and possibilities rather than on the setbacks and problems.
And, entrepreneurs may well be right. A study in Sweden looked at survey data collected between and in which Swedish citizens were asked whether they thought the economy had improved over the last twelve months, and if they thought it would improve over the next twelve months. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs were more optimistic about the state of the economy than other respondents were. But they were also more accurate than other respondents; their predictions of the future course of the economy tended to more closely match what actually happened. The researchers went on to argue that while entrepreneurs are usually described as overly-optimistic, to have too much faith in their own abilities and be unwilling to face the facts about the chances of success, regular wage-earners actually tend to have outlooks that are too bleak.
Our evidence thereby challenges the prevailing argument that entrepreneurs are irrational in how they form their beliefs about the future. Rather, it is non-entrepreneurs who are more irrational, because their beliefs are overly pessimistic. Every entrepreneur starts a new business with the awareness that they might fail but also the belief that they have the skills and the determination and the personality to succeed. Some of those entrepreneurs may be proved wrong — this time.
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This extra push and effort on behalf of oneself is what sets the entrepreneur apart from the rest of the population. An entrepreneur knows how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and run. An entrepreneur does not wallow. Wallowing allows too much time for self-pity. Entrepreneurs have little patience for this type of attitude or action from themselves or from others who may be around them. Dave Nevogt had an idea. It was February , and the serial entrepreneur thought there might be a market for time-tracking software that companies could use to manage their remote staff.
His background was in marketing and management; he knew nothing about Ruby On Rails or desktop development. He wanted a partner, a co-founder who would take on the responsibility of building a new business with him and share the load with him. Often, co-founders are old friends. When that happens they have to persuade someone to join them. In his blog post, Nevogt explains how he went about tracking down and recruiting — not a staff member — but a co-founder who would work with him to build a new business from scratch.
But take a moment and write down what qualities you must have in your startup which will compliment your strengths. But a co-founder needs to make business decisions as well as write code and lead a development team. Nevogt wrote to a few people he found on LinkedIn, explaining that he was looking for a good developer. In fact, he appears to have been encouraged by it.
Smart people should need to be talked into doing stuff, especially developers. The two finally talked on the phone, and they met for dinner. They drew up responsibility lists and Nevogt convinced Brown with two things: data and experience. He brought data showing that there was a market for the product they were creating and he brought evidence that showed the cost of customer acquisition. Nevogt was able to show that he had created a similar white-label product in the past and that he had created companies that had generated a million dollars in revenues.
Finally, he offered Brown a split. Those were all important factors and they would have helped to persuade Brown that he was looking at an opportunity not another freelance client. But we all see or think of lots of opportunities every day. That ability to create partnerships out of charm and drive is part of every entrepreneur.
When an entrepreneur believes in their idea, they have the ability to spread that faith. They feel that passion, and they can envision their part in building it. They want to be a part of it. Entrepreneurs are sociable and they pull in people around them because they offer an opportunity to others to be part of something great.
Passion can be infectious, and a good entrepreneur with a great idea spreads that infection everywhere they go. Walk through a neighborhood and you can always tell which houses are occupied by owners and which contain renters. The owner-occupied homes have tidy front yards. There are usually some plants and trees. The place is dressed-up. There are no cracks in the walls and the sidewalk at the end of the drive is always clean and swept. Owners care about their property and they maintain it.
When damage grows, so does the bill and it will always land on them and no one else. Small problems become large problems, the extent of damages grow, and the cost of repairs when the tenant finally moves out is greater than it would have been if the repairman had been called about at the first sign of trouble or the plumber had fixed the leak after the first drip.
Entrepreneurs often see their employees in the same way. An entrepreneur might not own the company but they act like they do. The biggest difference between renters and owners in a company though, comes when an entrepreneur receives instructions. An owner does see the big picture. He thinks like the owner of the company, anticipating problems and trying to solve them before they come up. However, an entrepreneur is neither an owner-employee nor a renter-employee. An entrepreneur is no kind of employee at all. This attitude can be somewhat irritating to some managers and business owners.
Some managers even get offended at the efforts of these entrepreneurs. They want so much to make a difference to the company and to help grow something, and they are like a puppy dog. During the last recession, American companies laid off 8. Those people worked in occupations that ranged from Wall Street banking to Detroit car-making. They had flipped burgers, sold properties, designed websites, written code, assisted dentists, calculated actuarial rates and performed every other task found in every city across America.
Some of those people would have been new at their work. Others will already have put their time into the company. They might even have believed at that time, that they never would find another job. In fact, whether those workers who received their P45s during the last recession had just landed their positions or whether they had been in the corner office for years, few should really have expected to stay with the same company for a long time.
In , the median tenure at any job was just 4. Some of that job-changing will be voluntary. Young people, especially Millennials, have little problem moving around. But much of the job insecurity that employees face is involuntary. They get laid off. The reasons that employees lose their jobs can vary considerably. Ignore an instruction that you think is a waste of time and you can find yourself spending more time looking for another position.
In one job I was in, the manager said I came in late. Of the 50 employees in the office, I was the only one who actually came in close to the opening hour and we all worked many, many hours of unpaid overtime because we were salaried, and we wanted to help each other succeed. That can happen, and it can even happen to entrepreneurs. People whose natural position is to make decisions and delegate work rather than to accept instructions and perform small tasks make for poor employees.
When someone has been hired to do nothing more than test scripts or answer phones, their manager will see their questions and their opinions as obstacles that get in the way of the smooth running of the firm. There is no such thing today as a secure job. All jobs are insecure, and no career now starts with a post-school apprenticeship and continues through salary rises all the way to a comfortable retirement. Those days are long gone, if they ever existed at all. Entrepreneurs understand this better than anyone else.
They feel it more than anyone else. They know that as long as they have a boss, they do not have complete control over their own lives. It will bring less security. In the early months of the business, the company will have to battle to find its niche and land customers. Every day the business survives will feel like a victory. Every salary withdrawal will feel like a miracle.
Every lost customer will feel like a disaster. In a world in which even Steve Jobs can be handed a P45, every chief executive understands that they always have other people to please. The difference is control. A single mistake or even a series of small mistakes is rarely enough to get them canned. And the entrepreneur gets to make the decisions that determine whether the company grows or fails.
No one has job security, but entrepreneurs have control and they have confidence. In , with the First World War still raging, carmaker Rolls-Royce found itself under pressure to merge with the armaments company Vickers. The board asked Henry Royce, the engineer who had co-founded the company, for his opinion about the two firms combining. For Royce, control was everything. A draughtsmen is more than a draftsman; they are qualified to draw mechanical drawings in differing detailed scales from the first screw to the last bolt — in precise order of usability.
Royce had to see every piece of the item being built and even tried to return to the factory immediately after surgery when he had been given just a few days to live. The first is a boost in confidence. The entrepreneur was the only one who believed not just in their vision but in their ability to make that vision real. If they ever had any doubts before, a look at the product and the sales figures goes a long way to removing any doubts that remain. The other reaction is to then believe that only they can continue to make that vision happen.
Only they can approve the design. Only they can develop the marketing strategy. Having built success with their own hands, they believe that only with their hands on the product can the company continue to produce that success. They want their company to be worth billions and they want to continue to control every aspect of it. In the early days of the company, those two choices are rarely in conflict. Before the product ships, the company has little money and is small enough to be easily managed.
But once the product is out of the door and the firm starts to look for funds from investors to grow more quickly, the entrepreneur has to decide whether he wants to be the captain of the ship or the admiral of the fleet. Each option has its advantages and its disadvantages.
Being captain means giving up power. In one survey of US start-ups that began operating in the late nineties and early s, Wasserman found that by the time the companies were three years old, only half of the founders were still the CEO.
A year later, that figure had fallen by 10 percent, and by the time the companies had an IPO, three-quarters were no longer led by their founders. Not all of those changes would have been voluntary. Some entrepreneurs insist that they need to be in control of everything even as a board that they no longer control points out that the skills required to imagine and create a company are not the same as the skills required to grow and manage a large corporation.
The battles would have been painful and the end result is likely to be have been a complete parting of the ways. Wasserman argues that entrepreneurs who try to retain both wealth and power end up with neither. Smart entrepreneurs understand that when companies grow and become valuable, it often happens because the founder has chosen to retain control over those elements of the firm where they can contribute the most.
Instead of trying to be both chairman of the board and chief executive officer, they hire a board of people they trust and they listen to their advice. They might even look for a chief executive with business and management experience to keep an eye on the share price while they focus on the engineering or the design. After explaining his own preference for strong control in a small department over joint control in a large department, Henry Royce advised the board to ignore his opinion.
Royce was an entrepreneur. He let the board decide the future of the firm he had helped to create. He wanted control but he understood that sometimes you have to give up some power for the sake of the business and to retain control where it matters most. How often has someone told you that they have a great idea for a business? And, how often has that person been an employee, earning a salary and working for someone else? And, if they really see themselves as an entrepreneur-in-waiting, why are they so proud of themselves for having an idea? Entrepreneurs have a dozen different ideas before breakfast.
Because opportunity really is everywhere and new chances appear every day. In general, though, opportunities tend to come from three sources. When they find themselves wasting time organizing their invoices or collecting tax receipts, they start thinking about a product that could save them a headache—and save other people a headache too.
David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars, in Boulder, CO for example, explained to the Wall Street Journal , that he created one of his companies after struggling to find news about the music he loved. The second source of opportunities are the problems that they can see other people experiencing. The third common source of a business opportunity is new technology. Every time technology takes a step forward, it gives entrepreneurs a case full of new tools that they can use to solve a host of different problems.
So when Apple opened the App Store, it gave entrepreneurs a solution to the problem of bringing a video game to market. In the past, games designers had needed to print CDs, design packaging and deliver the box sets to stores across the country. Now they only needed to write the code and submit it to the store. The release of the device itself created all sorts of new opportunities, from apps that turned the device into a flashlight to apps that made rude noises. For an entrepreneur, the question is never where to look to find an opportunity.
The challenge for an entrepreneur is how to assess all of the opportunities that they can see, and choose the ones with the best chance of success. Just as opportunity itself comes from a variety of different sources and in multiple forms, so the ways in which entrepreneurs choose them vary too. Some entrepreneurs just follow their heart. They pick the idea that burns the brightest and run with it. Others do the market research. They compare competitors, a few might even conduct focus groups, and they take the opportunity that looks like it has the greatest chance of success.
Some entrepreneurs, like Jeff Bezos, will prefer the choice that can bring the biggest rewards, however long it takes to win them while others will apply the maxim of being able to fail fast and cheaply. They take them and move on them. For General Ne Win, the dictator who ruled Burma for 26 years, numbers were everything. Nine was his lucky number so he made sure that important events were staged on dates whose numbers could be added together to make nine. In , he ordered that all banknotes should be divisible by nine. Notes worth 45 kyats and 90 kyats replaced 50 and kyat notes, wiping out savings and making cash payments difficult.
Few entrepreneurs are that superstitious. It takes a special kind of person to create their own business. It takes a rare kind of person to create their own business. There are far more employees and far more people willing to remain employees than there are people with the determination to turn a business idea into a successful company.
Because it is easy to doubt, success never comes overnight. It only ever comes after a long series of nights, many of them short and even more of them sleepless. Until the business is up and running, any entrepreneur, even the most confident and well-supported one will wonder at times whether they really do have what it takes to find the funding, hire the staff, produce the marketing plans and deliver the product.
Until this questioning entrepreneur has the corner office and the bank balance and the name on the building that proves that they really are who they think they are, personality tests that can tell them about their characters can always look tempting. They challenge the status quo, prefer new ideas and avoid structures that limit and restrain them. They like to direct their energies inwards, to their inner critic, resolving their imperfections and constantly looking to improve themselves.
The Myers-Briggs tests are notoriously complex with overlapping patterns of characteristics. There is in all of these tests a degree of confirmation bias. Taking personality tests does something else too. The Myers-Briggs test was invented by a mother and daughter in the s and eventually went on to become the best-selling product sold by a psychology press in California. And those evangelists work hard. Entrepreneurs take personality tests to reassure themselves that they really were born for a life of leadership and development.
And when they take a personality test, they recognize the work of someone else who did manage to turn an idea into a business. Taking a personality test and thinking about how that entrepreneur managed to sell it to you is a stronger sign that you were born to be a business leader than the numbers, colors, alphabet letter, or label which is identified in the test results. Test away. Good service is taken for granted while disappointing experiences are trumpeted far and wide. Complaining is not a behavior pattern of entrepreneurs. My own personality has always been to skip past the complaining part, and go straight for the fix of what is bothering me, part.
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