There is a great deal of myth and legend surrounding the idea of entrepreneurs. Investors love entrepreneurs because we make them lots of money. Of course we lose them lots of money even more often. Employees love entrepreneurs because they create jobs and a culture that is inspiring and exciting. The media loves entrepreneurs because of all of the above and quite often the best and worst entrepreneurs make compelling stories. Stories sell.
Entrepreneurs are not normal people. They don’t think like most other people. They don’t think like investors. The whole risk vs reward relationship is horribly skewed in their minds. Rewards burn brighter than the sun and eclipse most risks into dark, shapeless voids.
To me the essence of an entrepreneur is questioning everything. Taking nothing for granted and constantly asking why.
In today’s startup and entrepreneur obsessed culture there is a lot of founder worship and startup envy. I am at heart an entrepreneur, not because I have started five different companies and had 3 successful exits, but because when I get bit by the bug of a unique solution to a compelling problem I literally can not NOT do it. The bigger the obstacles the bigger the reward. Entrepreneurs are literally creators who look to create innovative solutions to big problems and create a thriving business out of thin air.
I see and talk to so many companies who want to “hire entrepreneurial minded’ people to work for them. The idea is that if you are an entrepreneur then you will do whatever it takes to make the business work. In essence that an entrepreneur will treat YOUR company like it was their OWN company. is that a reasonable assumption?
Do most entrepreneurs act entrepreneurial with someone ELSE’s creation?
Some may in fact be able to take all of their skills, talent and drive and apply it to someone else’s idea and business. Those are the exceptions not the norm. To me it is not safe to assume you can simply hire an entrepreneur for a tightly defined role and expect that they will dive into that limited role with the gusto that the founders put in. Entrepreneurs tend to err on the side of horizontal skill sets rather than vertical skill sets. They get their hands dirty in every aspect of the business from creating the product, training the team to cleaning the bathrooms. Most entrepreneurs that I have met can not be satisfied with a single dimensional role. At least not for long.
My wonderful and whip-crack smart wife made a poignant observation about me yesterday. I was talking about this idea of hiring an entrepreneurial minded person for a company and then trying to limit them to a tightly constrained role focused on one single objective. She made a keen observation about me that seems to apply to most of the entrepreneurs I know. She noted:
You can not be truly happy and engaged unless you have some hand in the creation of the product.
It’s true. The way to a true entrepreneurs heart is not through a spreadsheet, return on investment or even recognition. The way to truly tap into the reactor core of passion and limitless energy is to get us involved with creating. We live to be creating unique solutions to complex problems, new products or even new features. Entrepreneurs don’t just want to get their hands dirty in every area of the business, they must.
What do think? Can you hire an entrepreneur?