Defining the Entrepreneur


How do you define an entrepreneur?

Some would say that an entrepreneur is a well financed businessperson, who launches a new business with $20M in venture capital funding.  Others would say an entrepreneur is anyone with a great idea and a folding table, a cell phone, and a computer in their garage! Both descriptions might be correct, but that does not really get to the heart of the matter of what truly defines the entrepreneur.

I believe what defines the entrepreneur is a particular boldness, courage and willingness to accept risk! Brian Tracy, author and business development expert says that “Boldness is a necessary part of courage, but it must be a boldness based on an intelligent assessment of the potential risks and rewards.”

Believe me; in today’s economic environment it takes some toughness and courage to start a business. The most important and necessary characteristic is the courage to step out in the face of uncertainty. Every great venture in the history of man has begun with faith and a giant leap into the unknown.

The only trait that might be common and consistent with successful entrepreneurs and business people is the particular willingness to take the necessary risks. A twelve year study of successful entrepreneurs conducted by Babson College concluded that the only thing they had in common was the willingness to launch, to step out in faith. It did not matter their age; income; lifestyle; heritage; race or education. In most cases the study group had nothing in common except the unique ability to step out in faith into a great unknown without hesitation. Once they had started, they learned the lessons they needed to succeed. Many of the participants in this study surprisingly ended up very successful in completely different businesses from where they started.

There are three elements for success of the entrepreneur at play here. The first is strength of belief in a number of areas: The strength of belief in themselves; the strength of belief in their capabilities; the strength of belief in their idea and finally, their strength of commitment to their decision.

The second element is the entrepreneurs’ power of flexibility.  I’ve always believed that a good definition of an entrepreneur is someone who is passionate about their cause, willing to work at a superhuman pace and able to stop on a dime and change directions nearly instantly while updating and adjusting their plan on the fly. While all this is happening they are still focused and driving forward with purpose. In other words, a successful entrepreneur MUST be flexible.

The third element is the entrepreneurial PASSION. To have the ability to take an idea and do what is necessary to build a business around that idea requires a burning, unwavering, whatever-it-takes passion for success. It requires what some call “the Eye of the Tiger!” You can see it in the eyes of the entrepreneurs that truly believe that their business is their mission. And the bottom line is that investors, customers and employees can see it too! In turn they can also see the entrepreneur that is going to just give it a try to see what happens. You can just as easily pick out the ones that are only partially committed.

In his Management Success Newsletter, Brian Tracy says, “Successful executives are those who are continually stretching themselves to move out of the comfort zone, to face the twin fears of failure and rejection and to move forward in spite of them.” Today’s business environment dictates that there is no place for the faint hearted and half committed. Save your money! But if you have an intelligent assessment of the risks and rewards; you have the passion and belief; you’re flexible in your plan and you’re willing to step out in faith… then you can call yourself an entrepreneur. Remember that to make it as an entrepreneur; it’s a requirement to have the Eye of the Tiger, because it is a jungle out there.


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