At this very moment in business schools, libraries, and foundations across America, intelligent men and women are splitting hairs in pursuit of an ironclad definition of “entrepreneur.” These folks, in response to the confusion surrounding the concept French economist Jean-Baptiste Say coined to refer to a person who “undertakes an enterprise… acting as an intermediary between capital and labor,” must believe that the world will be a better place if their reams of scholarly writings can zero in on what an entrepreneur is, and what one isn’t.
Guess what? They are wrong and, more importantly, no red-blooded entrepreneur will ever read a single page of the reports these scholars generate. Entrepreneurs want to know what works; i.e. what sells. Their motto: “I’m all about results.” If you write something you want entrepreneurs to read, it must detail what will give them a leg-up on the competition, an edge, or, if available, a shortcut to success. The old saw, “Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach” is relevant here: Entrepreneurs are doers too busy doing to care about the criteria used to define them. But promise them at least one performance boosting tip, and they’ll devour articles like a 10-year-old set loose at a Ben & Jerry’s store.
I love (and admire) true entrepreneurs, so this one’s for them: 7 psychological insights that may help entrepreneurs understand how they put points on the board, or how they can do what they do a bit better:
What’s Better Than A Better Idea? Laser Focused Market Research.
Yes, I know the adage, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Guess what? If you consider where you can still beat a path to someone’s door –Iowa or Nebraska— you’ll see why the mousetrap business is flagging while IT is booming— only a few people are troubled by the need to kill mice, and everyone you know depends upon email or instant messaging to live.
Entrepreneurs are geniuses at identifying market needs, not at building hotshot new gadgets. Even an inventor who was also an entrepreneur saw things this way. Thomas Edison famously noted, “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”
If you have a better idea for a crystal ball that sees the future needs of markets you’ll be set for life. You will be an entrepreneur who sells to entrepreneurs. Until then, keep watching what the kids on the Left Coast are playing with. That’s where trends begin.
If You Want To Be A Successful Entrepreneur, Fire Your Shrink.
Yes, I’m a shrink-turned-executive coach and I know from personal experience that a real entrepreneur is more afraid of a psychoanalytic resolution of his conflicts than he is of four more years of President Obama. Why? Being ticked-off at dad or mom is the raison d’être that drives most entrepreneurs to excel.
Philip Knight, founder of Nike, was denied a summer job at his dad’s newspaper, so he (a) got ticked-off, (b) wrote for the cross-town competition, (c) channeled that ticked-off-energy into building a life-changing industry. Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Dave Thomas (Wendy’s) –orphans all— doubtless had deep-seated resentments against the moms who gave them up for adoption. Did these guys show Mom how wrong she was for dumping them, or what?!?!
If you are really an entrepreneur you know that with pain there’s much gain. Love your angst. Use it to thrive. And stay out of a shrink’s office unless or until you’ve surpassed Sir Richard Branson’s string of successes.