The word “entrepreneur” often evokes images of larger-than-life people like Donald Trump – but ask a dozen people what the word means and you’re likely to get 12 different responses. Some will give you the easy answer: an entrepreneur is a person who starts a business. Well, that’s not necessarily so. While most entrepreneurs are the founders of their businesses, not all are. And many people (in fact, I’d say most people) who start businesses are not necessarily entrepreneurs. They’re business owners.
One of the most heralded and successful entrepreneurs of all time was Ray Kroc. As most of you know, Kroc did not start McDonalds. He was selling multi-mixing machines when he wandered into a California burger joint founded and run by Richard and Maurice McDonald and convinced them to let him open a McDonalds in Illinois. Kroc didn’t create the company, the concept of a burger chain (White Castle had that honor in 1921), or even the iconic golden arches. But it was Kroc’s vision that turned McDonalds into one of the world’s most recognized brands.
There are many paths to entrepreneurial success. You can get there by being an innovator, creating products, inventing a new methodology or being a great leader. Just don’t be a greedy SOB who keeps all of the bounty to yourself. That’s just bad karma.
The real genius of entrepreneurship is that there is no mold. There are, however, some common characteristics. Vision is one. It’s not what you see that propels you forward but rather what you imagine. (And then, of course, you need to be able to communicate your vision to others.) Purpose is another. Vision and purpose are sometimes confused but they are not the same. Vision is what you want to achieve, purpose is why you’re trying to attain it. And it should all be tied together with a plan of how you’re going to pull the whole thing off. That is unless you’re Martha Stewart. She didn’t start out with a business plan although I’ll bet her uber-successful mega-corporation has one now.
There’s more, of course because as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Can you delegate? Can you communicate? Can you compete? Is your business sustainable or is your DJ company a one-service wonder? And let’s not forget luck. Sometimes lucky breaks are bestowed upon us; other times we need to make our own luck. It’s best to count on the latter.
So, are you an entrepreneur? If you chart your course, give it all you got, hang tough, fight fair and stay nimble, then you can proudly call yourself one. And you can take that label all the way to the bank!
In Part II, I’ll share a profile of one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the DJ business, Bobby Morganstein. Stay tuned.
Have you had a great entrepreneurial success? If so, please share it with us!