I will say up front, that I struggle with the word entrepreneur for a number of reasons, one of which, I constantly spell it wrong. With this said, I find myself "playing on the entrepreneurial side of the business fence"; I am building a business to support small and medium sized business leaders with their "commercial problems". I thought I would start with this particular idea, as I can leverage my experience; as they say, "go with your strength". You could say the plan is to become an entrepreneur to support entrepreneurs.
One of the biggest struggles I am having with the word entrepreneur is the definition. Is it a person, a state of mind, or representative of the life stage in a business?
- Is an entrepreneur a person who is interested in making money, but simply has the inability to work for someone other than themselves?
- Is it simply the state of mind of wanting to creatively build something from an idea or concept, opposed to administrating a business process or business function?
- Is being an entrepreneur an aspect of the size of the business? When it is tiny you are an entrepreneur, as it gets bigger you manage to an entrepreneurial spirit, and finally when it is large you are "corporate".
As with all things, it's probably a combination of the above and a few other things that haven't come to mind. There is definitely one thing that has become apparent... the word "entrepreneur" is a badge of honor for those building a business from an idea or passion. There is also no doubt, no mater how you define an entrepreneur, they by necessity are salesmen. Being an entrepreneur is a sales activity, as you are selling your idea to anyone who will listen; building awareness, looking for support (either in money or in time), and building a viable revenue stream.
As I continue to wade into this pool we call entrepreneurship, a number of business fundamentals have come to the forefront... some of which if I am honest with myself, took for granted when I was surround by a corporate structure -
- You have to build your business infrastructure yourself, and the expertise to get it done may not be close at hand. The trap I have already seen is that "having a brilliant idea" and "being able to build a business" are two independent skill sets; having one does not mean you have the other. More often then not skills to build a business will probably have to be brought in and those early decisions will reverberate for years. The people who you want to partner with initially, are crucial.
- For those organizations that are five, ten or more years in business, (with a proven model and customer base), a "forecastable" revenue stream comes across as "straight foreword". When you are much earlier in the business developing process though, the cold reality is that revenue is hard to realize. There is a large amount of work between that first product idea and having someone ultimately pay you money for it.
- The timeframe between your idea and "exiting" as a millionaire is counted in years, not months. Yes, there will always be exceptions, but it is better to settle in for the long haul. The big dream is very important, and will carry you far, but as they say, "Rome wasn't built in a day".
- Most likely you will have to involve investors or bankers so ensure you spend their money wisely - You will need to borrow more of it down the road. To this point, it is being said money is readily available; although this may be true, you will still have to sell your idea and it's value. An investor will always be looking for a return.
- I am learning quite a lot... with so much more to learn.
Can I call myself an entrepreneur at this point? Sure, why not. Can I call myself a proven, success entrepreneur? Nope... but give it time and I do have an idea after all. Wish me luck.