Owners vs. Entrepreneurs
Do you see yourself as a small business owner or an entrepreneur? If you think they are the same thing there may be a flaw in your judgement that will get in the way of you becoming truly successful. And if you’ve never even considered that you might be an entrepreneur, now is the time to do some serious personality and goal assessment.
It’s one of the biggest challenges any business faces. Especially in today’s market over saturated with choice.
Don’t sabotage your business with a small mentality
You may operate a business that employs only one or two staff, or just yourself. You have to slog it out every day to stay on top of stock, sales, accounts, marketing, ordering, customer relations. There are so many small parts to keep in mind you start becoming small in your approach. You move from task to task and think that this will inch you ahead. Months or years pass and nothing much changes. You stay afloat. You keep slogging. You inch a little further ahead. If this sounds familiar, you are in urgent need of a BIG picture revision.
Now is the time to think like an entrepreneur
For one thing, wouldn’t you rather call yourself an entrepreneur than a small business owner? The word itself contains energy and possibility. Taken from the French word entreprendre (meaning ‘to undertake’), the word now refers to a particular kind of innovator in business. Think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Anita Roddick, Donald Trump. Start to think in similar ways to these people and your business can move from a daily grind to a dream come true.
What does your passion have to do with your business?
The answer to this question should be: everything. Running a small corner shop because you know people need groceries is not the same thing as providing customers with delicious food, supporting local provedores and spreading knowledge and advice about living a healthy, long life.
You can already see how the entrepreneur approach opens up opportunities in a way that the small business approach does not. Being an entrepreneur does not mean you have to build an empire. Although it might. It means you take your passion and see how many opportunities you can create. You make partnerships with complementary entrepreneurs and businesses. This increases the capacity of your business to make money. Your grocery store teams up with a vineyard, providing cross sales and promotions. You have access to a vast new range of customers and you are still doing what you love.
If you keep your head down in the small detail of your business every day you will miss major opportunities to grow.
Be honest about your relationship with risk
An entrepreneur will start a venture without the income guaranteed. But most entrepreneurs are not indiscriminate risk takers or gamblers. Good entrepreneurial thinking capitalises on a small risk that will bring a big gain – not the other way around.
Are you comfortable with a moderate amount of risk? Do your risks pay off? Do you listen to your gut or your head when it comes to risk? Donald Trump advises to ‘listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper’. If you don’t trust your gut you may not find success as an entrepreneur. If you do, it can fast track growth in your business.
Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?
This quote from Steve Jobs speaks of the non-conformists who bring about change in the world. Your business may survive if you base it on existing models. That can be a safe option for a small business. But it will not thrive.
A pirate approach can take your business to blue oceans (a term that refers to businesses that create new market spaces rather than competing in existing ones). You don’t have to invent something out of nothing to be ‘blue ocean’. But if you can identify a unique offering your business, product or service has that is not being fully explored in the market place – bingo! You transition from running a small business to steering an enterprise.
Think outside yourself and outside the box
Entrepreneurs look at the world they live in and ask what is missing. If your business is all about you, it will have a limited capacity for growth. Once it becomes about your customers, your staff, your community then it will always be able to grow. Because it will tap into a larger network than just you.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to the same thing as your key competitors but ‘cheaper’ or ‘better’. Rather, ask what are your competitors NOT doing? Think outside the box and offer your customers a bonus or benefit. It can be one they identify they need, or one you anticipate will make their life better. Don’t be afraid to lead the way. No-one knew they needed a personal computer until they were available. Now, who can live without one?
Desire, devotion, determination
The three Ds are common to all entrepreneurs and make the difference between mediocre results and sterling success. Don’t run a business because you think you should (or someone else thinks you should). Your desire is what will re-ignite you during tough times so you need to be confident it is there and it is strong.
The bottom line is that being an entrepreneur is hard work. It is hugely rewarding but it asks huge commitment. And it will offer huge challenges. Your devotion and determination are the keys to building a business that can withstand the batterings of the market place.
You are not alone
There isn’t a successful entrepreneur anywhere who created that success alone. Know your strengths and use them. Be aware of your weaknesses and create partnerships to transform them. Share your passion, knowledge and expertise with generosity. A stingy or isolated attitude is not conducive to growth.
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Stefan Kazakis on 27 May 2017
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