Ever gone on the entrepreneurial journey? For many of us with (rapidly thinning) grey hair, the first we knew of the word entrepreneur was in the halcyon days of George Cole and Denis Waterman’s ITV masterpiece, Minder. Arthur Daley, a small-time con-man who would charmingly trick his way into people’s wallets and skilfully talk himself out of trouble was the first public custodian of the moniker, ‘entrepreneur’. At least for The Founder, anyway.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘entrepreneur’ is simply; ‘someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity’. The Founder has no truck with this over-simplistic definition, it’s lazy and goes nowhere near the mindset of the entrepreneur and really only talks to a single thing they may have done, not what they are capable of doing.
No, sir (or madam, if you prefer). Not at all.
An entrepreneur is a person who’s willing to challenge and be challenged. Imagine standing in front of your first love, reading the first love poem you ever wrote out loud for the very first time. That. An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea, more than likely borne from a problem they’ve encountered and they’ve dared to say it out loud. They’ve had the chutzpah to stand up in front friends, lovers, spouses, mentors, investors and customers to test assumptions, press on or pivot and move this thing forward, with only themselves for support. They’re challenging their worlds and the worlds of those they talk to, good entrepreneurs are great challengers. Pretty cool, eh?
At some point though, the idea can become a crusade and that’s a problem in itself. Entrepreneurs become lobbyists, protesters and these challengers becoming challenging. Change the last three letters of a word and you shift the dynamic diametrically from being a positive tag to being a dragging label. The best professionals in the world love to be challenged. None of them particularly wants to work with challenging people.
Where entrepreneur used to be used as a euphemism for a bit of a chancer, so challenging is a euphemism for a pain in the neck. Not cool.
Entrepreneurs exist in every facet of everyday life, from the halls of our schools to the biggest global conglomerate to the local greengrocer offering single-tree apples and super-fresh, organic pomegranates. All of these people are challengers of the status quo and look up from your PC right now and look around you. Somewhere there is an entrepreneur and maybe it’s a skill to recognise that in others, not just yourself.
Or are they just a pain in the neck?