By Robert Craven, MD of Directors' Centre
The idea of the entrepreneur has come to be synonymous with the Bransons, Jobs and Gates of this world. What are called “transformational leaders”, the hypomanic, “crazy” people - a few (very few) of whom create new business dimensions — and most (the vast majority) of whom fly too close to the sun and just burn up (themselves and their investors’ money).
And “How to Become an Entrepreneur” has been taken over by armies of “gurus”, each with their own Seven Steps To... But the real world is not like that.
For every one Branson, there are (tens of) thousands of bright, knowledgeable, hard-working, hard-pressed people running their own businesses the best they can — and making a pretty damn good job of it.
These are the “transactional leaders”, determined, down-to-earth entrepreneurs making money with as little risk, and as much intelligence and expertise as possible.
The transformational gurus look for “kind of crazy” people, and say things like “You need to suspend disbelief to start a company”. The transactional experts say “No, you don’t. The opposite is true”. You need to be as realistic as possible. You need experience. You need to have your eyes wide open. You need blah-blah…
Most people are not “geniuses” who have one great idea. They are born and brought up in a certain way, and then they work really hard to create new opportunities for themselves.
It’s what Malcolm Gladwell calls the 10,000 hour rule. He argues that Mozart was not a boy genius. He was hugely talented, but he practised for (give or take) 10,000 hours (ie he was a prodigy at 8, but didn’t produce any great music until he was 18).
Bill Gates was very bright, but he went to MIT where they had the first powerful computers, and he spent mega hours playing and working on them. The same applies to musicians, artists, etc. They spend mega hours in their bedrooms playing guitar/drawing, hour after hour.
You get to be a “genius” by hard work and putting in the hours.
Of course, you’ve got to have the “creative spark”, but you’ve also got to have the experience...
So, we say there are the “One Day Entrepreneurs” — the ones who have one great idea, and make a fortune (or not) — and there are the “Everyday Entrepreneurs”. Those are the ones we are interested in.
The ones who have to deliver solutions to minor and major problems everyday of their working lives.
Who is out there to help them?
Who has “been-there-and-done-it” so can provide reliable advice? Who can deliver practical action plans rather than unrealistic, magic-wand solutions?
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