Why You Probably Have No Idea What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur
Remember when everyone wanted to become a DJ? Wealthy Millennials were investing in turntable equipment and promoting their ripped-off remixes at pregames. Well, no one wants to be a DJ, anymore. Now, the trendy “get-rich-quick” job is becoming an entrepreneur.
What does that even mean, exactly? It's become this umbrella term to categorize all jobs that involve starting something, being your own boss and making a lot of money. Anyone who sells cupcakes with a trademark quality is an entrepreneur. Anyone who embroiders signature pillows is an entrepreneur.
Anyone who manufactures a new style of mugs is an entrepreneur. Somebody told a bunch of mediocre kids with glorified hobbies that they could become entrepreneurs, and now, we've got an invitation to check out some new girl's ripped clothing line every day of the week.
Putting desserts in pretty boxes makes you a baker. Beading bracelets makes you a craftsman. When you then turn it into a lucrative company, you can call yourself a businesswoman too, if you'd like. But an entrepreneur is a truly savvy individual who sees opportunity as a resource and out of that creates something genuinely never-before-seen. Snapchat, IDEO, Seth Godin's enterprises, Birchbox, Rent the Runway, Pandora — these are all legitimate examples of startups that fall under this entrepreneurial category.
Even Baked by Melissa miniature desserts and Dylan's Candy Bar are fitting illustrations of entrepreneurship. In both instances, there was a void in the market and both female entrepreneurs of those companies had to build something consumers hadn't ever experienced. In the case of Dylan's Candy Bar, Dylan Lauren revolutionized the traditional “candy store” experience to include events and a Chuck E. Cheese theme-park quality. She didn't just stick a bunch of colored M&M's in fancy wrapping and call it “reinventing the wheel.”
Running a startup is very different than running a traditional company. You hire people who can wear many hats. You figure out what the best course of action is and then you make it available, instead of choosing from a preset of options. You take on a significantly greater amount of risk, but you don't feel there is a way to lose.
Of course, this perpetuates the sexy allure of entrepreneurship. In reality, the career sounds way more glamorous than it is. And this is what separates the ambitious individuals wanting to work for themselves and in support of their ideas versus the entitled indolents that seek to bypass the effort required to automatically run a company. From the former, those who are successful, go on to become tycoons, moguls, enterprisers. From the latter, those who eventually become successful (which is an exceedingly small percentage) are complacent — all serial investors of doing nothing, failing because they lack that key component of drive.
And for the naysayers who will tear me up in the comments for saying so: I encourage you to look at people like children of celebrity parents or the hundreds of “Shark Tank” failures — individuals who don't know what to do but have the time and resources to make something up and see what sticks. There is a clear distinction between those who strive to be entrepreneurs and those who strive to be a part of something greater than themselves.
I respect ambition. I respect people who want to try their hand at something new. I have nothing against those who want to work hard and eventually run a lucrative company one day. Isn't that what we're all trying to do here, on some greater or smaller scale?
I understand the attractive qualities that come with being your own boss and working at a young startup. Just because I enjoy these advantages and would like them for myself in the future does not mean I envision myself as an entrepreneur. Independent, yes. Self-motivated, sure.
Being able to synthesize creativity, leadership and deft critical thinking are major components of entrepreneurship. You are the visionary who holds the insight for turning possibilities into certainties.
It's like being the magician in the room or Willy Wonka in the wondrous Chocolate Factory. You have that unassuming ability to be two steps ahead of everyone. The real entrepreneurs among us are already formulating their next venture, while the phonies are waiting for the opportunity to arise.
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