If you think entrepreneurship is a 20th century idea you could be wrong. Sometime in the 1800, a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Baptiste Say coined the term entrepreneur, and defined it as someone who “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”
In this post I’m going to go into some details about who the entrepreneur is and how he is “different” from the cut-and-dried business owner. If you are an online home business owner it is really a good idea to know how the entrepreneur thinks.
The word entrepreneur has its roots from the French term entreprendre meaning to “undertake.” Back then, the popular understanding of entrepreneur was someone who acts as a contractor between capital and labor. The more modern understanding of an entrepreneur is one who takes great risks in an enterprise in order to achieve high profits.
The idea or notion of “risks” scares a lot of people and discourages them from venturing into areas where there is a great profit potential, but shows a lot of uncertainties. But, entrepreneurs are believed to be intrepid, and were born with an instinct for taking great risks and succeeding. They were believed to be a cut above ordinary mortals.
However, if you look at the definition of J.B. Say, you don’t see him saying something about “taking great risk.” The entrepreneur is simply shifting resources from areas of lower yield to areas of higher yield. Based on his actions, you could say that an entrepreneur is an opportunist. That is, he sees opportunities that others don’t and he capitalizes on them. From this definition, you could also say that he is smarter than the cut-and-dried entrenched capitalist.
When the entrepreneurial spirit gained full momentum in the 1980’s, people began looking at entrepreneurs as ruthless business operators. One Harvard Business School professor even remarked, “I think, if we want to understand the entrepreneur, we should look at the juvenile delinquent. (Prof. Abraham Zalesnik.) This remark makes you wonder about entrepreneurs and what makes them tick. Consider the following synonyms of “ruthless” – pitiless”, “cold-hearted”, “merciless,” “manipulator”. What happens to integrity in business? Has honesty, and the above-board American Way gone out of the window? The answers might surprise you.
Now, it seems necessary to delve into this issue.
Business Brilliant under the direction of founder Lewis Schiff, made a study on the issue of ruthlessness, although it was not particularly focused on entrepreneurs, but on successful businessmen (including entrepreneurs) in general. The findings were quite intriguing:
1) Ninety percent (90%) of self-made millionaires agreed that “in negotiations, it is important to exploit the weaknesses of the other side.” Only 25% of the middle class shared this view.
2) Only thirty three percent (33%) of the middle class agreed that –“I expect people to try and take advantage of me in negotiations,” while, 66% of self-made millionaires expect this to happen to them.
3) Fifty percent (50%) of the middle class agreed that in making business decisions, it is important to consider how the other side will look at them. Of the self-made millionaires, only 20% agreed to this.
This same study also made a breakdown of multi-millionaires and simple millionaires, or more precisely the high-seven-figure millionaires, and the low to mid-seven-figure millionaires. Apparently, even amongst millionaires there appeared to be differences in views. The findings showed the following:
1) Ninety seven percent (97%) of multi-millionaires believe that it’s not their “responsibility” to look out for the other person’s interest. Only 85% of low-seven-figure millionaires agreed with this.
2) Of the middle class, only 25% agreed.
Based on these findings, it would appear that the amount of money you get in doing business is directly proportional to how ruthless you are.
If you set-up a scale to measure ruthlessness vs. charity in business you would probably see Donald Trump tipping the scale toward ruthlessness. Trump has been noted to say –“Be brutal! Be tough and go get them.” Obviously, this how it’s done in the real estate business considering the scarcity of prime land.
So now, we are at a quandary whether or not to agree with the idea that “you have to be ruthless to be really successful in business or in entrepreneurship.” We got to this point in the first place because of that remark that an entrepreneur is very much like a juvenile delinquent.
Some well-meaning businessman with a Christian bent might say –“I’d rather remain a low- level businessman and go to heaven, than be a multi-millionaire businessman and go to hell.” However, this kind of thinking doesn’t get us anywhere on this issue.
I’d like to think that the “ruthless” attitude comes from the actual experience of doing business. Multi-millionaires did not become successful overnight. They went through the rigors and learned from their mistakes. And, they speak of their success based on their experience. And yes! Experience taught them that – on hindsight – they need to be focused, and single-minded in pursuing their goals. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes! If this meant “ruthlessness” so be it! But, did they, at the get-go, really intend to screw (forgive the word) anyone? I don’t think so.
Truth is, single-mindedness is an inherent trait of a successful entrepreneur. It’s what we may call the stick-to-it attitude.Another quality of an entrepreneur is innovativeness. Being innovative is critical if you desire to have the best home business on the internet. If you think innovation is limited to technology and gadgets, you would be wrong. In the 20 years between 1965 and 1985, of the 40 million jobs generated in America only 6 million came from the technology field. (Peter Drucker; Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Harper;1985). Barely one in five hundred of the so-called “bright ideas” in technology cover the cost of their development. According to Drucker, the key technology driving jobs growth was entrepreneurial management, what he called “social technology,” not widgets and gadgets.
An entrepreneur also thinks outside the box. Classical economics strive for the equilibrium. The entrepreneurial spirit is restless. It is constantly probing, and upsetting the established order, seeking ways to make things better. Here lies the innovativeness of the entrepreneur. To the question –“what is the customer buying?” traditional business would answer –“the product.” But, the entrepreneur would revise the question as – “what is the customer really buying?” To which the answer would be –“what the product does for him.” The customer is actually paying for what the product does to make his life more enjoyable than what it currently is. Product is only an idea. Like TV. What is it in TV that makes it such a thing of value? How is that value translated in real life? The entrepreneur is always looking out to add value to an already existing one.
No one believed that people in poor villages around the world could afford to pay for television sets. But, then some enterprising guy in one remote village decided to invest on a TV, put it on the porch of his house and invited everyone to watch – for a fee. Imagine the rippling effect of this venture across millions of villages in the whole world. People in far-flung areas now have a window to a bigger world than their small villages. This is an example of how an entrepreneur adds value to a product.
Not so many years ago, many antibiotics generally made for humans were found to be good for animals. When vets tried to buy from manufacturers they were turned down because “they were intended only for humans.” It would seem that allowing the drugs to be used on animals was “below them.” But, an entrepreneurial firm bought the rights to the drugs and marketed them specifically to vets, thus creating one of the most profitable segment of the pharmaceutical industry.
These are just examples of how entrepreneurs depart from “standardized” thinking. This is how they innovate. This is how they think “outside the box.” To be really successful online you need to be constantly on the lookout for home based business opportunities. The internet is a limitless resource for such endeavors. This link might help you find what you’ve been looking for. Please click here.