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Skills and Qualities of Entrepreneurs.
A lot of words have been written and many discussions in universities and government circles, have taken place about the skills and qualities of entrepreneurs.
The small list below has some traits common to entrepreneurs. The two most important (I feel ) are last.
- Product or service knowledge.
- Ability to network.
The word entrepreneur was first coined by the French some 200 years ago. Today its meaning and cultural context would be almost unrecognizable to its originators.
Originally, the meaning was for some one who invented something, then set up a production process to produce it. Other terms (not necessarily complimentary), have evolved as well, “re-invent the wheel, build a better mouse trap,” etc.
I have a brother who fits the definition of entrepreneur. As a humble motor mechanic, he saw a gap in Fords tooling for a new range of vehicles they had released.
Together with another brother, they spent their hours after work, machining and perfecting a harmonic balancer removal tool that could be used without removing the radiator.
20+ years on, it is now sold in many countries throughout the world. Of course there have been numerous companies who tried to copy the idea.
Some people might say they are inventors. But they connected the dots and followed the rules (even the unwritten ones).
Inventors must protect their ideas, and entrepreneurs must broadcast theirs.
Products and services are associated with either saving the customer money, or increasing wealth by saving time or increasing earning power. The Harmonic balancer removal tool fits this definition perfectly.
This is commonly stated as one aptitude to have as an entrepreneur.
But really, when Steve Jobs created Apple what was his vision. Probably in the beginning all he thought about was just making his own computer.
When my brother came up with the idea for a harmonic balancer puller, he could use without all the extra work involved in pulling out the radiator, all he was thinking about was an easier, quicker way to change a front oil seal.
I am not sure Vision belongs among the list prerequisites to be an entrepreneur, but in the beginning? I don’t think it is even a thought.
What about Jack Ma? Probably he just thought it would be a lot more convenient to have Asian manufactures / buyers and sellers all in one place and online !
Nothing new about that concept, we have all been to markets / trade shows etc. It is just that Jack put it online.
Others followed and have done the same. But they have not been able to get the amount of traction that Jack did.
Creativity is what drives the idea, opportunity for the product or idea is often accidental.
There were harmonic balancer pullers around before my brother designed one. The fact that it was a better “mouse trap” was an idea born of necessity or frustration ( there has to be an easier way), not vision.
Once he used it, and it worked, some one else asked if he could make them one, and so the snowball effect begins.
Optimism, motivation, product development. Then networking to get it out there.
How has Entrepreneurship Changed
Winning ideas have to be right for their time. The climate and the social / work environment of the day must engender demand.
Universities, think tanks, governments have all thrown millions of dollars at programs trying to teach entrepreneurship. Most have failed miserably. You (most times), need to experience a problem before you can come up with a solution.
Maybe because, rather than build better mouse traps, they were trying to re-invent the wheel.
And there are some good Humane mouse traps on the market these days. (Just saying).
As well as traps and blocking software for various online rats. (Hackers etc.).
Promotion and Investing
Watch any infomercial program on T.V., and you can see all sorts of whiz bang things being promoted.
There are also “startups”, a term used for e-Entrepreneurs, who are seeking funding to develop their apps or ideas online.
The typical investors mindset is, “If the entrepreneur will not risk his own money then why should I?”
One piece of advice is to only invest in a start-up when they are wanting to expand, but only after you have looked closely at the business.
You could say the investor mindset, is to jump aboard when the hard work has been done.
It is just the way it works. The investor becomes involved at the transition from product research and development, to product production and marketing.
What is E-Entrepreneurship?
A Google search gives the following definition:
E-Entrepreneurship refers to establishing a new company with an innovative business idea within the Net Economy, which, using an electronic platform in data networks, offers its products and/or services based upon a purely electronic creation of value.
So, an e-Entrepreneur is involved with e-Ventures. This can cover the whole spectrum of on-line business’s. E-Business’s, which include e-Commerce, e-Procurement, e-Communication, and a few other terms.
You will see many familiar e-programs in this list, along with their creators.
Probably the most recognizable names in E-Business and E-Commerce, are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Jack Ma, who unfortunately, seems to have now been silenced by the Chinese government.
Sad that we no-longer have this enigmatic man sharing his wisdom.
As well, Steve Jobs has passed on. His contrarian ways are missed by many (including me).
He knew what his company stood for and didn’t care what you thought.
This is another form of entrepreneur that has emerged over the past few years.
It includes not for profit companies, and individuals who raise funds for certain causes such as, ecological, poverty and community type programs.
This one is a lot harder to define, as they often cross into the boundaries of government and the voluntary sector.
Which tend to create all sorts of conflicting messages.
However it is a phenonium that is likely to keep growing, (particularly among the millennials), based on the understanding that new methods, ways, or ideas are key to the solution of problems in the society.
Google gives a definition here.
Do you Consider Yourself to be an Entrepreneur?
Many people will answer Yes.
But there is a difference between an entrepreneurial mindset and actually creating something.
Still, running your own business, selling yours and others products, is considered entrepreneurial. You are part of the process.
Lots of people want to sit around a “talk” about it. Few have the balls to truly chase it, and then have the guts to stay in the game when they hit the first roadblock, then another and another and another…perseverance is key to success.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs these days come from Asia (India in particular).
Somehow they have skipped the original physical product creation (definition), and jumped straight into E-Entrepreneurship.
Perhaps telco call centers (and others), basing themselves in India all those years ago had something to do with this.
These days Indian entrepreneurs are certainly making a positive impact in the world of business, and education programs.
In particular advanced subjects relevant to the modern world.
Sharing knowledge is at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit, unlike so many others designed only to satisfy the designers own selfish desires.
Certainly the philosophies and creativity of Indian entrepreneurs has been around for a long time.
I credit George Harrison (member of the Beatles), for attracting attention to the benefits of Indian wisdom.To see what was trying to be achieved click this link. Activate Your Mind’s Full Potential
Some of it has been exploited for all the wrong reasons though.
Are MLM’s Entrepreneurial ?
I write a lot about MLM’s. Some people love them and do ok. 99% don’t do Ok though.
While the theory may be sound, the results rarely match the theory.
Worse, many mlm’ers have been caught up in the smoking wreckage of failed businesses, and ruined relationships.
True. It sometimes happens in other business too…
MLM’s seems to attract a lot of women. Well… women with an entrepreneurial mindset.
These days the selling is a combination of old school face to face meetings and online marketing.
Maybe it is because in traditional relationships women create and maintain a wide circle of social contacts.
Often they form relationships with their contacts and generate ideas, create small business’s, that bring in some extra income for the household.
It is MLM’s target audience. One they exploit very well.
I define MLM’s as business’s with more vendors than employees.
So, as a vendor for an mlm you need to try and replicate the parent companies business model (build your own downline).
A company like Ford on the other hand, has way less vendors (dealerships), than it has employees.
Still it is profitable (most of the time). Unlike the profitability for the vast majority of people participating in MLM’s.
That’s all good, but what does this have to do with You?
What I have observed is that most successful entrepreneurs are like kids who absolutely loves their pastime/sport/ subject (entrepreneurship), and are not worried about winning or losing (money).
Gates, Jobs, Ma all had failures before they became household names.
Of course money is a driving factor when you are starting from zero. But after a certain limit, it no longer remains a motivating factor for you, and this is where most newbie entrepreneurs get stuck.
You see a lot of people with successful careers (employed by government or some industry), try their hand at “entrepreneurship,” and fail. Because they don’t understand the concept of entrepreneurship. Think franchises. These are not really considered entrepreneurial… Buying into some one else’s business needs a ton of research and the will power to say no. Not only are you investing in someone else’s business, you are also working for someone else (you bought a job). Some are very good, others not so. Often they fail because there are too many overheads and regulations you have no control over.
When to Start?
Entrepreneurs don’t know when to start. They often start when circumstances are at there most inconvenient and stressful for others. It would be wise to say “get your family circumstances, life, and finances in order before becoming an entrepreneur.”
That simply is not how it works.
The true entrepreneur possesses tenacity and determination. Is prepared to be flexible and drive the business through it’s establishment and on towards sustainability.
Money is a by-product of a successful entrepreneur.
Happiness is enjoying the day regardless of results. Tomorrow is going to be better.
If you can handle that ebb and flow, and look forward to fronting up to your business each day, then Yes, you could be considered an entrepreneur.
A quote I saw somewhere: “Every Businessman is not an entrepreneur, but all entrepreneurs become Business owners.”
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Until next time…
3 thoughts on “Skills and Qualities of Entrepreneurs”
Saying that you want to be successful at business and actually being successful at business is different. To be successful means acquiring the skills you have listed. The road to success is not easy, it calls for working hard and working smart at the same time. Thanks so much for sharing and giving insights on the skills and qualities of enterpreneurs.
Thanks for your informative article on entrepreneurship. Even though I have always considered myself an entrepreneur, and now an Un-Retired Entrepreneur, I never realized that the term originated in France in the 19th century. Creativity and vision are certainly needed qualities. Although trends and the social environment constantly changes, the needed qualities of entrepreneurship remain constant. Perseverance really is the key to any type of success no matter how we may define ourselves and our businesses. I appreciate the ideas and insights that you have provided on entrepreneurship.
Hey great article! I know it’s mainly based around e entrepreneurs but most of this information can be easily transferred into pretty much ant entrepreneur job. Especially the skills, like you have said the last two points are definitely important, I can agree on that!
You wouldn’t know you have succeeded if you give up easily! This definitely gave me the motivation to start some sort of business!