To demystify entrepreneurship, we have to start with the definition.
What is Entrepreneurship?
In the simplest form ever;
“ENTREPRENEURSHIP is about USING your LIFE to MAKE A DIFFERENCE through a BUSINESS.”
This is my personal definition of entrepreneurship. And in this definition, lies the 3 critical components that are necessary to successfully pursue your entrepreneurial dreams and eventually build a business that MATTERS!
The 3Ps of Entrepreneurship
- The PERSON (who): using your life
- The PURPOSE (why/what): to make a difference
- The PROCESS (how): through a Business
Let’s look at each critical component in more details.
The PERSON (who): using your Life
The entrepreneurial journey is embarked upon by an individual or group of individuals. And to a very large extent, the success or failure of the business to be created is going to be greatly determined by the founder(s).
This is why it’s imperative for us to start the exploration of this subject matter of entrepreneurship from a personal perspective. Because believe it or not, business and life are both sides of the same coin. At the very fundamental level, business is not separate from life, but an extension of life.
So any attempt to separate one from the other, will ultimately compromise the very essence of entrepreneurship.
The Entrepreneur: Who Are You?
Entrepreneurship is the most unusual journey you will ever embark on in your life, so you’ve got to be absolutely certain it’s how you want to live your life and what you want to use your life for.
Entrepreneurship is not complete without you the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is fulfilled through you; you are the one who gives birth to your business.
Your business is whatever you say it is. Your business can and will only go as far as you want to take it.
You and your business are inextricably linked. Your business derives its purpose from your purpose; your business derives its meaning from your life.
So this leads us to the BIG question every entrepreneur or would be entrepreneur must answer; who are you?
Until you have discovered yourself, every business you start will eventually fail. I know this is hard to believe, so I am going to prove it.
According to Bill Aulet, the professor of entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship; there are primarily 3 ways of starting a new business venture.
Meaning, there are basically 3 ways of becoming an entrepreneur;
- YOU have a breakthrough technology
- YOU have an idea
- YOU have a passion
Did you notice every one of the 3 ways of becoming an entrepreneur started with YOU? From the above, the only constant element is YOU. It takes YOU to create a breakthrough technology; it takes YOU to come up with a viable business idea; and finally, it takes YOU to have passion.
At the epicenter of entrepreneurship is YOU!
YOU will have to decide based on any of these 3 options how YOU want to become an entrepreneur. And your ability to make the right choice will greatly depend on your understanding of yourself as a person.
Knowing who you are; what you like and dislike; your strengths and weaknesses; your interests, abilities and skills; your character, temperament and values; your experiences, challenges, desires and realities; all add up to determine your success or failure as an entrepreneur.
So going into business without first discovering yourself and understanding who you are, is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Why? Because not knowing yourself will hinder your ability to accurately choose the right business that will suit your person.
In the end, you will find yourself in a line of business you are inadequately equipped for and will eventually lack the personal qualities to scale through thereby leading to business failure. You can avoid this by consciously seeking to know yourself better.
Remember, entrepreneurship is about using your life to make a difference through a business. So this is your life you are using up to create and build a business, don’t waste it on the wrong kind of business.
Self Discovery Tools
Here are a few tools that can help you know more about yourself;
16 Personalities – this is a personality discovery tool. Take the test to find out more about your person.
101 Self Discovery Questions – this is a great list of 101 important questions to ask yourself
The PURPOSE (why/what): to make a Difference
The second critical component of entrepreneurship is the purpose. In other words; to what end is your entrepreneurial journey? Or better still; why did you become an entrepreneur? What are you trying to accomplish by becoming an entrepreneur?
This critical component of entrepreneurship is necessary for all existing entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs because it serves as a compass to guide your business activities. Without it, many entrepreneurs have derailed and watched their businesses collapse as a result.
There’s only one true purpose for entrepreneurship; to make a difference in the lives of your customers through the products/services you create and sell to them.
In other words, the purpose of entrepreneurship is to add value for customers and ultimately society. If a business is to succeed, it must aim to add value to customers through continuous innovation and finding new ways of making a difference.
The reason many people go into business and eventually fail is because they didn’t clearly understand the purpose of entrepreneurship. To many in this category, entrepreneurship is about making all the money you can through a business.
Consequently, they go into business with a selfish mentality determined to GET as much money as they can without first considering how much they have to GIVE in exchange for the money they seek.
Entrepreneurs with this selfish mentality fail in business because they have violated the very purpose of entrepreneurship, which is to make a difference through your products/services. Thinking about the money [profit] you will get first rather than the products/services [value] you should create is the recipe for business failure.
In the world of business, there’s only one way to make money; consistently creating and selling products/services that add value to humanity. Death is the eventual outcome of any business that doesn’t make this purpose of entrepreneurship their core guiding principle.
The PROCESS (how): through a Business
Business is the tool entrepreneurs use to make a difference in the lives of their target customers. Without creating a business, entrepreneurs greatly limit their capacity to make a difference. Why? Because you are limited as a person.
As an individual, there’s only so much you can do to satisfy your customers. Sooner or later, you will be overwhelmed by all the different activities required to provide the products/services your customers demand. So don’t attempt to go down that road, you will only entrap yourself.
The process of entrepreneurship is all about building a business and not about doing business. The reason for the failure of most small businesses can be traced back to this mistake of doing rather than building a business.
Building a business is about creating systems that will power the activities required to create and sell products/services to your customers. These systems will involve both people and machines; through them your capacity as an entrepreneur to make a difference is greatly amplified.
There are essentially 5 core inter-related systems you need to create;
- Human Resources [HR] – a specific process of finding, hiring, training, retaining and firing workers
- Finance – a specific process of sourcing, allocating and managing funds
- Marketing – a specific process of attracting, retaining and growing profitable customers
- Production – a specific process of converting resources into finished goods and services
- Distribution – a specific process of delivering products/services to your customers
The process of entrepreneurship is about putting all these things in place in your business. They are the pillars on which you will build your business. The more effective and efficient these core inter-dependent systems are, the quicker your business will grow and the bigger the difference you can make.