These days, the term “entrepreneur” is thrown around quite loosely. It seems like anyone with a taste for risk and a desire for leadership quickly labels themselves as an entrepreneur. However, true entrepreneurs are those who are making a positive impact on the planet, exploring outer space, or donating generously to charitable causes. The good news is, you don’t have to be a billionaire to be considered an entrepreneur. In fact, financial wealth isn’t a requirement at all.
The term “entrepreneur” has its roots in the French verb entreprendre, which means “to undertake.” Delving even further back into the Sanskrit language, the word anthaprerna translates to “self-motivation.” These etymological origins perfectly encapsulate what an entrepreneur is: a self-motivated individual who willingly takes on responsibilities that extend beyond themselves.
Understanding the Essence of Entrepreneurship
Being an entrepreneur isn’t about amassing wealth or wielding power. Many entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable when they find themselves in a position where they have to manage others or relocate their office to a high-rise building. This discomfort stems from the entrepreneurial spirit, which thrives on resource constraints and the innovation that such limitations inspire.
Harvard Business School Professor Howard Stevenson offers an insightful definition of entrepreneurship:
“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
This means that entrepreneurship involves embracing your current circumstances while visualizing a brighter future, irrespective of your present conditions. Adding a keyword here, it’s about assuming moderate risks to achieve that vision.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a selfish endeavor. As business magnate Richard Branson eloquently stated in his LinkedIn article:
“…to me, being an entrepreneur simply means being someone who wants to make a difference to other people’s lives.”
Therefore, an entrepreneur also aims to improve the overall quality and standard of life in society. What mission could be more noble than that?
The Noble Path of Entrepreneurship
An entrepreneur contributes to society by creating jobs, advancing scientific knowledge, and solving pressing global issues. True entrepreneurs are not merely focused on their personal gains. While everyone aspires to improve their lives, entrepreneurs intentionally or unintentionally enrich not only their own lives but also the lives of countless others.
The Concept of Meta-Entrepreneurs
Although spiritual leaders, inventors, and philosophers do add value to people’s lives, they are not entrepreneurs in the strictest sense. Their contributions are often theoretical rather than practical, and thus, their work doesn’t directly improve the quality of life for others.
These individuals are better described as meta-entrepreneurs. They provide invaluable guidance and knowledge for future generations of entrepreneurs. For example, the philosopher Socrates, as a meta-entrepreneur, may have indirectly influenced greater societal changes than any single entrepreneur could have.
Meta-entrepreneurs lay the informational groundwork that entrepreneurs can utilize to add tangible, practical value to society. However, it’s crucial to distinguish between the two: an entrepreneur is the practical embodiment of the theoretical principles put forth by the meta-entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship: Beyond a Mere Job
One could argue that any individual who performs their job with dedication and skill is adding value to society. Professions like doctors, educators, and even politicians do contribute to enhancing the quality of life for the community.
However, these professionals cannot be labeled as entrepreneurs. They don’t assume the responsibilities of others and operate within the boundaries of their respective professions. They have jobs and follow rules – rules often established by entrepreneurs or meta-entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is not a job. An entrepreneur sets up the framework for improving both their life and the lives of others. Media mogul Ted Turner encapsulated this idea well:
“My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.”
Do You Qualify as an Entrepreneur?
The answer depends on the context. If you’ve built a family and ensure its members are responsible, contributing citizens, you could be considered a “social entrepreneur.” However, in the economic sense, you’re an entrepreneur only if your business meets at least one of the following criteria:
- It creates jobs.
- It delivers valuable products or services.
- It generates wealth for more than just yourself.
Interestingly, you can’t claim the title of entrepreneur if you once owned a business that either went bankrupt or was sold. Being an entrepreneur is more than a job title; it’s a continuous state of being. You either embody entrepreneurship in the present moment, or you don’t.
Steps to Becoming an Entrepreneur
If you’re not currently an entrepreneur, you might be wondering what it takes to become one. According to billionaire Richard Branson, all you really need is a compelling idea and a zest for life:
“When I started with Student Magazine, I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. I was simply passionate about protesting against the Vietnam War and having some fun in the process. If that meant becoming an entrepreneur, then so be it.”
Is it truly that simple? Yes, absolutely.
The Importance of Dreaming Big
Entrepreneurship is essentially a journey to realize your dreams. While I often get labeled as a serial entrepreneur, I don’t necessarily identify with that term. I believe that the moment you label yourself as an entrepreneur, you risk losing your drive and ambition.
As previously mentioned, entrepreneurship isn’t a job or a title; it’s a continuous state of chasing your dreams. It’s about wanting to turn those dreams into reality, which is why you need to be an entrepreneur.
To conclude, I’ll share this inspiring quote from the legendary Walt Disney:
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”