All entrepreneurs create businesses.
But all entrepreneurs are not created equal.
So what makes the difference?
A set of unique attributes that clearly draws the line between ordinary entrepreneurs and their extra-ordinary counterparts. Don’t be alarmed by this, in the business world, there exists two kinds of entrepreneurs; those who do business as usual and those who don’t. Obviously, they will end up creating only two kinds of businesses.
For those who do business as usual, I refer to them as average or ordinary entrepreneurs and for those who do business NOT as usual; I refer to them as unusual or extra-ordinary entrepreneurs. The average entrepreneurs don’t really deserve much explanation, their title says it all – they are just average. Meaning, at most, they are only capable of creating “good” businesses, but rarely ever create “great” businesses like the unusual entrepreneurs do. To know the difference between a good business and a great business, download the free ebook: the entrepreneur’s journey.
An unusual breed of entrepreneurs
Ever wondered what separates great entrepreneurs from mediocre ones? Ever wondered what makes entrepreneurs like Richard Branson of Virgin, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Tony Tsei of Zappos and the legendary Steve Jobs of Apple extra-ordinary?
It has been my central focus for the past 6 years researching and studying the lives and businesses of these unusual kinds. It’s been my goal to uncover those set of qualities that distinguishes them amongst others. As a matter of fact, I created this site [naijapreneur] to chronicle and share freely with the world my findings on how these seemingly ordinary men and women create and build truly extra-ordinary businesses from scratch.
In this unusual article, I want to share as always some of my most recent findings about what it takes to become an unusual entrepreneur.
The 3-way approach
The making of an unusual entrepreneur is dependent on 3 critical factors;
- Character – the will to succeed
- Competence - the will to prepare
- Results - the will to execute
An unusual entrepreneur is a person of character. An unusual entrepreneur is not your everyday individual. An unusual entrepreneur is exactly the title they bear – unusual. Perhaps one of the best descriptions ever given about an unusual entrepreneur was given by one himself, Steve Jobs;
“Here’s to the crazy one, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round peg in the square holes …because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do!”
This is where it all begins –within. Every endeavour whether in life or in business begins first within and then without. The first order of things to be changed is you, the individual. Character is about your person; what stuff are you made up of? What do you represent? What makes you thick? What drives you? What guides you?
Character is about your will to succeed. A person can only go as far as his/her character allows. The journey within outweighs the one outside; no man can rise above the limits of his own character. In other words, your character determines your success either in life as well as in business. Who you are ultimately defines what you achieve –your success or failure. Defining character is the first step to greatness.
What is character?
Character means ‘wholeness’. It is the summation of several qualities, behaviours and thoughts that reveals the totality of a person. Character is not only a question of what a person does [action] it also includes both how you do [attitude] and why you do [thought]. Character is the whole of a person; an integration of “what you do” [actions, behaviours]; “how you do” [disposition, attitude]; and “why you do” [intention, thought]. It’s the summation of these three parts that makes up the whole of a person’s character.
How is Character formed?
Why do you think the way you do? Values. Why do you behave the way you do? Values. Values are a set of deeply held beliefs, principles, qualities, standards or virtues that inspire and guides how we do (attitude) and why we do (thoughts). Values are at the core of our attitudes, thoughts and dispositions; the combination of what we believe in and how we behave.
Habits are what you do (actions) as a result of what you believe and have accepted as true. Habits are your values in action. Your values are manifested through your habits. Your values are the source of your habits. If you have the wrong values, you will exhibit the wrong habits.
Here are some highly effective habits of unusual entrepreneurs;
Character focused on the internal requirements of an unusual entrepreneur; the personal development phase. That is, who they need to become on the inside in order to lead on the outside. Competence on the other hand, is where the unusual entrepreneur develops the basic business skills needed for exceptional performance.
Competence is the business development phase of an unusual entrepreneur. It explores the external requirements of entrepreneurship. That is, what you need to know technically in order to perform externally. If character is the personal side of business [personal development] competence is the technical side of business [skill development].
Character is how the entrepreneur develops the capacity to succeed. While competence enables the entrepreneur prepare for success by developing the required skills for succeeding in business. However important character is, without competence which is the actual knowledge and skill needed to start, run and grow a business successfully, an entrepreneur will only be a dreamer.
What is competence?
Competence is the ability and skill required to carry out a particular function, activity, task or set of duties. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to prepare by gathering the skill set necessary for the unusual journey embarked on.
The competencies required by an entrepreneur to exceptionally fulfill the responsibilities of his/her position are of two categories; leadership and management. Starting a business requires entrepreneurial competence, working with people requires leadership competence and growing a business requires managerial competence. An unusual entrepreneur relies on both competencies to effectively and efficiently function in business.
Competence = leadership skills + management skills
I know you are the owner of your business no doubt, but you also need to understand this fact; building a successful business takes the collective efforts of others and not just the effort of only you the owner. It is not a one man show.
Before you chose to become a business owner, success was very much all about you and the result of your personal efforts, but now that you’re building your own business; success is all about others and the result of their collective efforts.
The success or failure of an organization depends largely on how well the entrepreneur performs as a leader. As an unusual entrepreneur, your role as a leader demands that you shift your focus from yourself and begin to focus more on others and what you can collectively achieve as a team.
The focus and function of the unusual entrepreneur’s role as a leader stems from his character as an individual. Without sound character the entrepreneur cannot function exceptionally as a leader. Leadership is about inspiring and motivating people towards the fulfillment of a predetermined goal, aim or objective; this is often referred to as VISION.
The combination of character mixed with vision is what makes an ordinary person become an extra-ordinary leader. You cannot be in front if you don’t have a firm idea of where you’re going [vision] and you cannot inspire others to follow if you haven’t first led yourself [character].
Character makes you a leader, but you need vision to lead others. Inspiring them to fulfill that vision is the job of a leader and the essence of leadership.
Every business has a way of operating that makes it completely different from any other business in the world. Ever wondered how some companies keep attracting and retaining high performing workers while others struggle to keep just a handful? Have you ever walked into some business premises and without being told, you could feel a sense of intense energy in the air? How come some workers find fulfillment at their place of work and others don’t? How is it that some businesses in the same industries do better than others?
The answer to all these and so many more is management. As individuals are unique such that there are never any two people one hundred percent alike, the same is true of businesses regardless of whether they produce similar products or serve similar markets.
What makes the difference? Management.
After all is said and done, the day-to-day activities of a business purely rest on the competence of management. It’s possible for a business to have a great leader and a great product, but without great management practices in place, the business cannot exist for long.
Business is like a puzzle, the entrepreneur paints the whole picture but management is the one who begins to arrange them one after the other, putting each piece in its rightful place. Management puts the whole pieces together and brings everything into proper perspective by creating an organization.
Management takes everything the business is about and weaves it into one big and integrated whole known as organization. The creation of an organization is management’s core task. The fact that people congregate everyday to work in a particular business doesn’t necessarily make it an organization.
Management through the creation of an organization is the binding force that unites all the resources of a business; human, financial, material etc. together towards the achievement of a corporate end. To make a business into an organization is what management stands for. This is the essence of the unusual entrepreneur’s competence as a manager.
Result is the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to stimulate progress in the organization by creating an environment where change can thrive. He/she must inspire the whole organization to keep asking and answering this critical question; “what is our business and how well are we doing?”
Asking this question draws the entire organization back to the fundamental purpose of a business enterprise; to create customers by offering innovative products/services that meets their needs and solves their problems better. Making the organization capable of creating consistent change through innovation is the result the unusual entrepreneur must pursue. How is he/she able to achieve this? What are the tools for creating change?
Creation is the essence of entrepreneurship. The unusual entrepreneur is nothing without creation. He/she must be involved in a never ending process of creation by forming a creative habit. It is only through the habit of creating that the entrepreneur masters the art of creation.
I wouldn’t dwell much on this because there’s an unusual article that covers this subject of creativity, you can read it here –harnessing creativity for business success.
Creativity is about the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to see opportunities and generate ideas; risk is about the willingness to explore and exploit them. It’s one thing to be able to imagine innovation; it’s another thing to actually deliver it. The difference is risk.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to consistently invest time, effort and resources in the pursuit of change [ideas and opportunities]. Besides seeing opportunities, the entrepreneur must be willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue them.
Risk is the sacrifice the entrepreneur is prepared to pay in order to create change. The entrepreneur must never be afraid of sacrificing immediate gains for the pursuit of better ways of doing things and satisfying the customer.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to step out of his/her comfort zone in pursuit of change even though the outcome is not certain and unknown. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to experiment with the idea generated and opportunity discovered. The entrepreneur must be willing to confront every uncertainty, fear and doubt and commit all that he/she is and has in pursuit of ideas and opportunities.
Over to you
Which of these qualities do you currently posses and which are you working on presently?
How have any of these qualities helped your entrepreneurial development?
What other defining qualities do unusual entrepreneurs possess besides those mentioned in the article?