What is the definition of an entrepreneur?
The dictionary has one definition: a person who starts a business and takes on risk in order to make money. But someone is an entrepreneurial-type of person before they sign their articles of incorporation. It’s their relationship to ideas and to their own capacity for doing that makes them what they are.
An entrepreneur is someone who NOTICES, DREAMS, COMMITS, and PURSUES.
A person who decides to start a business does so because they notice a need. They have the kind brain that is always paying attention to problems that might have solutions. They hear people say things like, “I love this park, it’s a shame there’s nowhere nearby to get coffee,” and, “my dog’s fur is such a mess, but I’m so busy! Wouldn’t it be great if there were a groomer that did pick-ups and drop-offs?” Instead of thoughts like these going in one ear and out the other, the entrepreneurial brain logs them away where they cycle around, generating little what-if scenarios. What if there were a coffee shop on that corner? What if the groomer could provide transportation as an additional service? If the thought is particularly exciting (it’s something nobody else seems to have thought of or tried) or if it seems to be a need or desire that lots of people share (there is a clear market for it) the entrepreneur may begin to actively DREAM.
Once they’ve got a proverbial bee in their bonnet, the entrepreneur is not content to swat it away and move on. Day dreams become more elaborate and fleshed out. The details of how to bring that idea to life start to come into focus. The entrepreneur starts to play a starring role in the production unfolding in their mind’s eye as the person making it all happen.
But we all know plenty of people with pie in the sky ideas that start this way, and certainly not all of them are entrepreneurs. There are plenty of people who dream big and then stop right there. The difference between a “dreamer” and an “entrepreneur” is COMMITMENT.
There is no risk in dreaming up a new enterprise, but actually deciding to go ahead with the idea forces an acknowledgement of risk. There are always plenty of reasons not to take risks, and the human brain is excellent at bringing those reasons to the forefront of our thoughts as soon as risks become evident. It’s survival instinct. Entrepreneurs have that instinct too, but they also have faith in their ability to overcome odds. They are willing to push through feelings of fear and doubt and do the thing anyway. The ability to stomach risk in pursuit of possibility, hold on to hope, and commit to their dream is what sets entrepreneurs apart. The ability to take that first step leads them to PURSUE what others won’t.
At the end of the day, an entrepreneur is the person who goes for it. They have faith in their ability to overcome odds not because they are in denial about their own limitations (although surely some among them are), but because they have learned that they are capable of applying themselves to a challenge and achieving something as a result of their own hard work. They have grit. They know they won’t have it all figured out before they begin. They know wrenches and curve balls will be thrown, that they will make mistakes, that they will have bad days… but they believe in their own capacity to persevere, and they prove it to themselves each day as they pursue their dream.
Entrepreneurs are those among us who have the ability and are willing (in ways big and small) to push us all forward. They don’t need to run a fortune 500 or have a successful restaurant chain or even an MBA. They just need to have an idea they can’t quite let go of and the drive to make it a reality.