An entrepreneur is an individual who organises and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so. Entrepreneurship is a universal activity – it drives economies, accounting for the major part of any nation’s new job creation and innovations. So what does it really take to be an entrepreneur?
1. Are you currently an ‘intrapreneur’?
‘Intrapreneurs’ are people within a large corporation or a small organisation who take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. They are willing to overcome internal roadblocks and bureaucracy and develop a strong immune system to become champions. They execute and never really quit!
2. Do you have entrepreneurial leadership skills and culture traits?
Entrepreneurs need plenty of resilience, responsibility, commitment and excellence.
3. Are you building the right team?
Sometimes starting and running a business can be a daunting task. You need a team that believe in your brand or product as much as you do. A cynical member of your team can do a lot of damage to your product or brand.
4. Are you able to think strategically?
Entrepreneurs should have a long-term plan in mind from the outset and work towards their goals in order to achieve success.
5. Do you have great customer service skills?
Be good at interacting with people, and learn how to meet needs they didn’t know they had. Figure out how to make people happy. Be charming. Most importantly, be humble. The customer may not always be right but you need to
let them think they are.
The bell-curve lifecycle proposes that businesses, over time, progress through a fairly predictable sequence of developmental stages: startup, growth, maturity, decline and death. In our case we shall apply the first three developmental stages
to an entrepreneur’s life cycle:
1. STARTUP: the entrepreneur exerts all his or her entrepreneurial traits and is constantly innovating.
2. GROWTH: the entrepreneur lets go and gives directions to other team members and concentrates on building a great team that will be able to deliver. At this stage the entrepreneur continues to dream but not translate – he or she directs.
3. MATURITY: the most exciting but precarious stage, requiring a different set of skills. Here the entrepreneur turns into an intrapreneur, delegating more and becoming more strategic – building systems, structures and policies that will support the business. The entrepreneur begins to wear fewer hats by specialising in his or her individual core capabilities (such as product design and development, marketing or editing and so on). During the maturity stage the entrepreneur should aim to build governance structures (such as a board of directors or advisors, accountability structures and so on, to prevent the business from declining). If at this stage the business does threaten to decline then the entrepreneurs’ strategic thinking should come into play as they think of sustainability and survival strategies. By this stage there should be a bit more time and money to figure out how to exploit a brand’s core competencies.