Hints & Tips Blog

What defines an entrepreneur?

What do you see when you picture an ‘entrepreneur’? Most people might imagine someone like Richard Branson or Elon Musk; a larger than life character or a disruptor who can turn anything into profit. Or someone who launches a successful start-up, powered by innovation or fast tracking new technology to achieve instant fame and fortune.  The perception can be that entrepreneurship is defined by big ideas, big risks and big returns.

The reality however is a little different. Most entrepreneurs are just successful business people who’ve achieved their goals. They didn’t wake up one day and say “I’m an entrepreneur”, but instead focused on developing their ideas and vision, and translating them into deliverable plans that enabled them to grow a successful business.

So what does define an entrepreneur?

  1. Vision and purpose

Having a vision is crucial to becoming a successful entrepreneur. They can see what they want their business to achieve, and are prepared to invest time, energy, finance and yes ‘emotional capital’ in making it a reality. And most of us who have grown businesses know that success tends not to happen overnight. Entrepreneurs are willing to take a risk on their ideas, or bring in new concepts that advance their vision. Along the way, they will encounter obstacles and setbacks, but won’t be daunted. They don’t give up in the face of adversity, but accept that the path to success is never smooth. They are driven and resilient, and resourceful in seeking alternatives when barriers arise.

What’s more, most successful entrepreneurs understand that their vision has be about more than just “grow a business; make money”. The vision needs to be purposeful; it has to offer something meaningful to customers, employees and the broader world if you want to stimulate demand and get people to buy into your success. Create something with purpose and broader ‘value’ and the financial returns will follow.

  1. Perception and focus

These are two important entrepreneurial traits. To create and develop a successful venture to its conclusion, you’ll need to be perceptive. Entrepreneurs need to be able predict new trends in demand, withstand market disruptions and respond to changing situations. This means identifying areas of possible innovation and improvement and being firm in driving them. But successful entrepreneurs also know they need to deliver these improvements without losing sight of their vision. And while being able to adapt and be agile is crucial, so too is being single-minded enough not to be distracted away from your core mission or being knocked off course by unexpected events.

  1. Reaching out

Entrepreneurs have a different mindset to those of employees. They don’t wait for someone to give them an opportunity, they are prepared to create them. They have a high level of self-discipline and determination, and are willing and able to take risks, and take responsibility for the whole business venture.

Most successful entrepreneurs also recognise that they’re not infallible. They know they won’t be able to fly solo long if they want to grow, but instead understand the wisdom of collaboration. They reach out to others, assembling a valued team of people who can help, internally and externally. They are aware of their strengths and confident in using them. But they are also canny in identifying the skills and experience they lack, and drawing these from others. Including advice and support if necessary from consultants or external mentors in order to ensure their business succeeds.

  1. Commitment and discipline

Being an entrepreneur is not easy, and dogged determination does play a part. When the going gets tough they are able to call on reserves of energy that allow them to go the extra mile. For many entrepreneurs, the personal and financial cost of the blood, sweat and tears required is better than the cost of failure. While there might be a perception in some quarters that entrepreneurs can be ruthless, the thing that weighs most heavily on many is the sense of responsibility for the livelihoods of those they employ.

Commitment to their business vision and belief in their purpose can provide entrepreneurs with a tenacious focus on problem solving and overcoming obstacles that might stop others in their tracks. They are also able to balance the need for identifying solutions to challenges in the here and now, with the knowledge they also need to be looking two or three steps ahead.

This level of commitment and focus is very demanding and, as a permanent strategy, may well be unsustainable. The really great entrepreneurs therefore know this is where building a strong, talented and committed team comes in. Build the right team – they will help you build the business. So entrepreneurs also need to be good leaders with the ability to inspire, engage and connect. That said, many successful entrepreneurs are able to demonstrate a level of self-discipline, resilience and determination, above and beyond what most people are willing or able to give.

BHP’s Business Leadership Academy is designed for entrepreneurs and those on entrepreneurs’ management teams. It shares the lessons we learned on our own entrepreneurial journeys and brings together the key planks of business growth.

Our team at BHP Consulting have all successfully run businesses, and we understand that every business is unique. Our practical approach to supporting our clients enables us to share our real world experience to positively impact on the performance of your business. To arrange a call or an exploratory face-to-face meeting, please click here