There is “an entrepreneur” and then there is “THE entrepreneur”. Furthermore, being an entrepreneur does not make one THE entrepreneur. Sounds confusing? Read on.
Before launching a startup for the first time, remember all the mixed emotion? There is a sense of dread but most of the time, it’s the thrill and excitement of anticipation. Being an entrepreneur for the first time comes with a lot of hope and visions of the good times to come. But no matter how hard one prepares, reality strips away a lot of the false expectations.
There is an ugly reality of entrepreneurship. Some people say that up to 9 out of 10 startups are likely to shut down within the next five years. One of the things people learn early on is to ignore the negativity. But ignoring is not the same as knowing. It is in learning how others fail that new entrepreneurs can reduce the risks.
So, let me ask you.
What is entrepreneurship?
Looking at the traditional definition, an entrepreneur is someone who:
- Has the capacity and ability to develop a business venture.
- Manages and runs a business.
- Understands the risks and has the willingness to accept them in exchange for profits.
If entrepreneurs fall under the traditional definition of entrepreneurship, then are they entrepreneurs?
There is more to being an entrepreneur than to think of it as someone who starts and run a business.
THE entrepreneur is someone who sees problems and needs, and provide solutions. Even better, the entrepreneur knows how to open the eyes of the market to problems or create the needs.
Customer Wants and Needs
For most people, the idea of starting a business begins with the word passion. It has to be something they love to do or are passionate about. There is nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the only thing.
For instance, one could be passionate about coffee. So, this person decides to draw a plan to open a cafe. He finds out all he can about the equipment and consumables needed. Furthermore, he inspects store locations and works with a designer to draw a plan for renovation. Basically, this person did what needs to be done to open a cafe.
In so doing, has this person thought of the problems customers may have with the existing cafes? What do customers want and need? Finally, these wants and needs, did they come from the customers, or did the aspiring entrepreneur assumed so?
In most cases, new entrepreneurs are on the defensive when asked if they understand the wants and needs of customers. The truth is, many of them failed at finding out from the customers themselves.
In healthcare, signs are what you see, symptoms are what patients feel and tell doctors. Do doctors depend on signs or do they interview patients about the symptoms? In similar ways, did the aspiring entrepreneur spend time to talk to enough people to form a clear picture of their wants and needs?
Creating Customer Wants and Needs
THE entrepreneur is not only one who could and did start a business. In doing so, the entrepreneur understands the wants and the needs of the customers, and provided the solution. But more than only providing a solution, THE entrepreneur did something more.
The best example of this was when a media personality was interviewed a decade ago about Steve Jobs. “If Apple were to produce an oven toaster, I would buy it because I need it,” the media personality said. Steve Jobs is one of the best entrepreneurs of our time because he CREATED wants or needs.
Going back to the cafe I used as an example, the new entrepreneur may think of creating new flavors. But does doing so create new demands?
Entrepreneurship is more a matter of marketing rather than the business itself.
By marketing, what I mean is that the entrepreneur needs to be able to make his business indispensable.
Here’s an example, again, using the cafe.
One of the problems of customers of coffee shops is the availability of electrical sockets. Some coffee shop chains do provide a few sockets, but others refuse to. For those without sockets, the idea is to discourage freeloaders. So, there is a percentage of the market who are forced to specific brands, but they do have to compete for the few sockets available.
An entrepreneur could use that to his advantage. In conceptualizing a cafe, he could put sockets on every space/table. By doing that, his coffee shop becomes an indispensable part of anyone who needs to work with laptops. It becomes a part of the entrepreneur’s brand identity among those who need sockets – whether they are coffee lovers or not.
Preparing to be THE Entrepreneur
In order to begin the preparation to be a great entrepreneur, one needs to understand that knowledge is never enough. But that is not the only thing. Besides learning by reading books or finding mentors, another thing entrepreneurs need to learn is how to communicate. Communicating with potential customers to find out their wants and needs, that is.
With this information, conceptualizing or tweaking an existing business is more likely to lead to positive results.
For some new entrepreneurs, the feeling of being almighty and all-knowing is the sure-fire way to fail. Unfortunately, this is a reality that some have to go through in order to learn. There is no room for arrogance and never let the air of superiority get in the head.
Do you now understand why being an entrepreneur doesn’t make THE entrepreneur?
Here’s a final word for you.
Entrepreneurship is a never-ending process of educating yourself and connecting with people.