We wanted to do this for “weekend reading”, as weekends are good time to relax and enjoy some longer posts and do some thinking. If you watch all the videos linked to this post you can easily spend close to an hour with these, so we made this post so that it can be easily enjoyed even via your iPhone while laying on the couch.
Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Every now and then, there are talks going on about “are entrepreneurs born or made?”. We are not sure if there is a real answer to that or not, but what’s pretty clear regardless, is that to become a successful entrepreneur, there are many different things that can help you to become one.
Few key points:
We think that entrepreneurs are born with an entrepreneurial mindset, behavior and thinking, just like having some other personality features that one may have. However, this does not mean that all these people with entrepreneurial mindset will become entrepreneurs, or that someone without this mindset would not become one. It may well be that we all have these entrepreneurial minds, but some have stronger minds than others. This may well be the difference between an entrepreneur and a great entrepreneur.
Regardless of how it is, there is a path to becoming a great entrepreneur, some people can follow it, while some can’t and some only go half way. In every entrepreneur’s mind, at some point, it’s clear and you realize that you are an entrepreneur. This path – to become an entrepreneur – is why I wanted to write this post.
While we were thinking on how to do this post and thinking of some analogies to explain some of the key points, we started to think clips from the movie “Matrix”. Our plan was to only use few clips from Matrix and then some other stuff, but as we started to search for suitable clips in YouTube, we realized that we could build the whole post around clips taken from the Matrix.
The path of becoming an entrepreneur
While you’re watching the clips below, try to replace the roles in the movie with those occurring in the entrepreneurial and startup world, like mentors, service providers (experts), business angels, team members, corporations, venture capitalist etc. and enjoy!
Learn to question the functions of the existing models
At some point you start become aware that you may indeed be an entrepreneur. Sometimes you realize that yourself and sometimes someone else will see it in you before you do, and starts to talk to you about it. – When you feel yourself questioning many things around you – you need to go and meet other people that are entrepreneurs. People with ideas & passion and those that have done it before.
Learning to question the existing models will lead to finding “new and better ways of doing things” and that’s the most natural path to come up with a great idea for a startup.
The earlier you can see a “new way”, the more time you have for safe bootstrapping. When you are too early, the market is not ready and when the “new way” is already obvious to everyone, it can be too late for great entrepreneur. The right time to build a business around “the new way” is difficult to know, but at the point when enough smart people (that can and are willing to help you) are seeing the “new way”, it’s as close to right time as it can be.
Understand the big picture
To be able to really start learning, first you will need to understand the bigger picture. Whatever you are doing and however well you think you know the things you are planning to do, you need to become aware of other things around you that will have effect on the outcome of what you are planning to do – things that will help or bring obstacles on your way. Having been “in the business” where you want to bring the change is very important. This means having been studying, working etc. enough within the area you are about to make a change in.
To make this learning process faster, it’s crucial to follow, meet and talk to people that already understand it on the same or a deeper level that you will need to as well. It’s also important to understand, that while it’s important of having lived in the system, the system itself really can’t teach the things you will need to learn about being an entrepreneur.
Learn the related basic skills in other industries to be able to battle within your own industry
Besides the skills that you need for your own industry, you will also need to learn other important skills that are essential for your success. In our context, this means learning to listen people in volumes and to present your business and goals in simplistic ways. Or to learn how to acquire needed funding to make your business a reality. Simply put, you need to learn to convince other people to give you their money for what you have to offer.
From this clip it’s easy to understand how also smaller basic roles like “the operator” are crucial for the future success. In the startup world this means relevant service providers or experts, that can help, teach and give you the insight in some tricky issues or simply take care of some of the related important segments of your business (like legals, accounting, etc.), stuff you need to understand but that you really should not be doing/focusing yourself, if you are in a greater mission. Here’s a related post on how can you work with “the operators” for your startup.
Train your skills
When you have real life experience, you have learned from others by reading and listening their theories, it’s time to start practicing what you have learned. While you continue to work with your startup, participate to your local events to pitch your startup and see others pitch theirs. This is also a g00d way to meet potential new team members to build you core team.
Have a healthy attitude with failure
Everyone fails on something at some point. When we were kids we did it all the time and that’s how we learned. Obviously the goal is not to fail, but the fact is that you are able to learn faster when you do. If you are racing F1, you don’t know how fast you can take the corners, until you spin out on the track. After you have done it, you know how far you can push the car and still stay on track. Same goes for everything else. Just make sure you are aware what you are doing and what level of risk you are taking. If you crash your car, the race is over and if you pass out and you don’t know what just happened, it’s hard to learn from it.
Also make sure to communicate and agree on the level of risk you are about to take with everyone involved, or you will start to lose the people around you that are willing to help you next time. It also helps if they have experienced similar failures in the past themselves.
Pay attention to details along the way
As you move forward, remember to pay attention to those small details and indicators along the way that help to remind you of what you know. These will help you to keep your focus on things that take you forward. In business these can be metrics. When you combine metrics to your gut feeling, your gut feeling will start to develop for the better.
Entrepreneur without a team – is not a great entrepreneur
When you are on your way to becoming true entrepreneur, a big part to understand is that if you are aiming to go solo, your chances of making it big are much, much slimmer than with having a great team with you. Your team is everything, when building up your startup and product. And when things go really bad you must be able to count on them. Simply, if you are thinking of doing it alone other people don’t really care so much of what you are doing and even if you succeed, there’s no others to share the excitement with you (people that really understand it).
Take care of your team
What makes a great team – is the fact that they care for each other. If someone is in trouble, you can count on your team to come for the rescue. The relationships that are build in any startup team, usually carries way beyond one company, those ties that people create when living in challenging situations are the types that carry on for the rest of our lives.
At some phase you arrive to point when you are ready for the big leagues
If you are a true entrepreneur, all the failures, small details, incidents, fights and close calls eventually push you to the point where you realize that you now know enough to take on the big challenges and really start to go big with your idea. You know you have the right idea, the right team and the right people close to you, that can help your team to achieve the big vision. At this point nothing can really stop your team (think Facebook).
When you hit the serious growth
This next clip is highlighting that phase in your startup growth when you clearly have a big winner in your hands. That time when you have proven your model, maybe raised a boat load of money and are growing at an insane pace (think Facebook). At this point there are all kinds of people, companies, media etc. coming at you in a continuous stream and you need to fight for your position to make it. Not all startups can or want to arrive to this phase, but if you do, it’s good to know what’s waiting for you.
Now that you have lived the process of becoming a great entrepreneur, what next? Well, that all depends on you. What is your next big thing?
The end credits
This last video is just a nice wrap-up of some of the key points that we covered above with some nice soundtrack.
Enjoy your new entrepreneurial freedom!
We hope you have enjoyed this post as much as we did creating it. Regardless of what point you may be in your journey of becoming a great entrepreneur or the next big thing, you should take advantage of our resources, where you may find and connect with those people you need to move your startup to the next level. Or perhaps to join another startup already on its way.
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