What’s an Entrepreneur? It is someone with a vision of the future with their solution to a real problem being used by real people. It is someone that customers, employees, advisors, etc. want to follow because they believe in their vision. They are leaders. But they also make it happen. They don’t wait for affirmation from other people that the idea is right. They know that the vision is greater than them; it is bigger than them and an entity in its own right. They know that their vision is greater than the idea itself and if the idea fails there will be another to replace it. The vision is king.
What is a start-up? It is someone who has decided that they have a solution which will solve a major problem however how it is done is a secret. No-one else may know how it is done but it will be amazing when it take off. Clearly a patent may be required. Or it may be a trade secret. They may well be telling everyone about the new world looking for affirmation and confirmation from other people – family, friends and strangers – that they are right. If the idea fails then they have failed.
What I’m actually describing here is a process of three phases from an Emerging Entrepreneur to an Entrepreneur:
- Phase 1: I have my idea. It’s all mine and will make me rich. I worry that someone will take my idea away from me. I want the recognition of fame and money for my idea. If my idea doesn’t work then that shows that I, personally, am a failure.
- Phase 2: I’m not so sure my idea is great so I go looking for affirmation from everyone that my idea is actually good. I listen to anyone who tells me it’s a great idea (no matter what their background or knowledge is) and reject those who disagree. Clearly they don’t get it.
- Phase 3: It’s no longer about the idea. It’s about the vision and the idea is just a vehicle to get to the vision. I am dispassionate about the idea and can evaluate it because I am looking at the future with a problem solved.
I’ve seen people go through these phases and recognise that I’ve been through the same phases myself. Even more interesting is that I’ve observed myself going through the same stages with different ideas at different speeds at different times.
The question is: How does one accelerate the process of getting to the final phase? The phase when the Entrepreneur can lead his people towards the vision. My feeling is that the Emerging Entrepreneur (phases 1 & 2) need help and guidance from people who
- Are not expecting a return (whether in fees, equity or acclimation);
- Have the backing of international connections; and
- Have a structure to provide multiple points of view at the time appropriate for the Entrepreneur.
That’s the reason that I’m so excited about the possibilities that TiE has to offer. It is a not-for-profit organisation of volunteers who wish to give back to the community that supported them in a structured way. I’ve just accepted a temporary Executive Director role to facilitate the process of personal and therefore company growth.