With a track record that includes founding multiple businesses, co-founding others, owning several, serving as an outside board member, consulting with privately held companies for over four decades, co-founding a weekly podcast interviewing entrepreneurs, and teaching entrepreneurship at the university level for nearly two decades, I’ve gained a distinctive insight into the entrepreneurial mindset.
My realization is that there’s a need for greater public understanding of what being an entrepreneur truly entails. Here are my reflections on how entrepreneurs perceive and operate:
The conventional notion that entrepreneurs embark on a quest to identify a market need and address it differs from the genesis of many businesses. Some founders pursue their passion without extensive market research or validation, relying on their understanding of the industry. This approach, where personal desire precedes market considerations, is more common than the strategic identification and validation process.
Entrepreneurs approach risk differently from the average person, seeing employment as riskier than owning a business. The possibility of job loss due to external factors makes them view employment as akin to having a business with a single client or customer, a situation they perceive as highly precarious.
Entrepreneurs commit to endeavors they believe they can succeed in but avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. They understand that taking calculated risks, such as offering diverse products or managing multiple businesses, minimizes overall risk. This strategy ensures that, even if not everything succeeds, something is likely to work out.
The entrepreneurial focus leans heavily towards growth, cash flow, and long-term value creation, often sidelining short-term profitability goals. Revenue goals take precedence, as entrepreneurs believe that sufficient revenue can address various challenges. This sets them apart from traditional small business owners, emphasizing a critical but often overlooked distinction.
For entrepreneurs, action takes precedence over ideas and planning. They consider ideas abundant and readily share them, underscoring their focus on internal improvement rather than external competition. While planning can create a sense of productivity, entrepreneurs prioritize tangible actions that propel them toward their goals, distinguishing them from mere enthusiasts.
One undeniable fact is that entrepreneurs remain relatively unexplored and deserve more attention. Recognizing this gap, the Walton College at the University of Arkansas established a separate department for strategy, entrepreneurship, and venture innovation, underscoring the importance of delving deeper into the world of entrepreneurship.