Are You Really an Entrepreneur or Just a Small Business Person?

Are you really an entrepreneur, or just a small business person? The differences between the two are...

Are you really an entrepreneur, or just a small business person? The differences between the two are subtle but quite distinct.

Are You Really an Entrepreneur or Just a Small Business Person?
Entrepreneurship is a hot item at the moment. Articles abound about entrepreneurship as a career. Are they born or made? I've had some thoughts on that. But my view is that Entrepreneurship is not a career, its a calling.

In defining whether you truly are an entrepreneur, or just a small business person, the differences between the two are subtle but quite distinct.

A small business person can grow their business to be a large business, but that does not automatically make them an entrepreneur.

  • Types of businesses can be similar. 
  • As can propensity or appetite for risk 
  • Even the concept of 'unknowable outcome' can be similar for both groups. (Just because you don't know the potential outcome, doesn't mean that it can't be anticipated by others).
However, I've discovered that there is one significant difference that clearly and absolutely defines & delineates the two groups.

The key difference between the two is 'mindset'.  A business person is usually focused inwards; in revenue, sales, operations, compliance, regulations, administration. etc etc.

Whereas an entrepreneur (whilst still having to complete these tasks, or be mindful or these obligations) is focused outwards. They are focused on the needs of others. That includes their audiences, customers, suppliers, partners, the wider community, and critically, one other key group; the group of aspirational entrepreneurs. This is the group that seeks to follow in the path of other successful entrepreneurs.

This key difference is (mostly) manifested (but not exclusively), in whether you support that next cohort, with your time, wisdom, experience, guidance, and in some cases, money.

And I'm not talking about via

  • a fee-for-service exchange - that makes you an advisor. 
  • advice-for equity - that makes you an investor. 
  • a substantial contribution of  effort in co-participation collaboration of creating a venture. That makes you a co-founder. 
  • writing books about business, experience or expertise - that makes you an author 
  • talking to large audiences through presentations, conferences, podcasts or TV shows - that makes you a speaker.
Whilst you may also do these things, to be a true entrepreneur requires that you also meet the requirements of 2 key distinctions
  1. you must be the recipient of guidance (mentorship) from a preceding successful entrepreneur (a real live face-to-face mentor), and 
  2. you must, in turn, pass on the benefits of your learning, to a succeeding group of individual aspirational entrepreneurs.
And these interactions should take place around a table, where there is fair exchange of information, understanding, wisdom and learning. You must be able to look into the eyes, and the soul, of that person across the table, to connect with them, understand them, and help them to become the person they imagine themselves to be. And stay with them over a long enough time period, that you can see them progress and outgrow their need for you. Until they themselves then pickup the mantle of mentoring others.

That, my friends, is the true heart of entrepreneurship. The ability to 'pay-it-forward', usually for no external reward.

The outcomes for the 'mentee' are immense. Perspective, learning of wisdom, accountability,   In fact, guidance (or lack of it) is the single biggest determinant of success or failure in any venture.

But the intrinsic benefits to the mentor can't be understated either. For those that recognize "Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs", this is the 'top of the pyramid'. These benefits create a level of satisfaction, clarity, and a deeper understanding of self, that can only be experienced, not described.

And in reality, those that know the benefits, don't need a list. And those that need a list of benefits, will never really discover them.

So if you want to be a true entrepreneur, my friends, you must cast off your requirements of self (at least for part of the time), in order to become self-less. The is the heart of a true calling - to do for others, without expectation of return or reward to yourself. And yet still recognizing that this is the very basis of the equation of "reciprocity"- " in order to receive, I must first give".

And we'll save that new thought for another blog post.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? After you've made a comment below

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