In the process of relaunching this blog, I realized I wanted to change my focus from just general technology to include entrepreneurship. The EVERYDAY battle to innovate and make things better is really why the technology I love is created, so I wanted to focus on the underlying motivation. The economist does a great job defining an entreprenuer in its recent special report:
"somebody who offers an innovative solution to a (frequently unrecognised) problem. The defining characteristic of entrepreneurship, then, is not the size of the company but the act of innovation."
I love it! Everyone can be an entrepreneur, and many times the initial act comes from identifying a problem that the rest of the world doesn't see clearly (yet). So think again when you see startups solving seemingly unimportant issues. Maybe they see something you don't, and maybe a small innovation will lead to big changes. The innovation is in the disruption that the entrepreneur causes!
Despite entrepreneurship being all the rage these days, there are still quite a few myths out there, and the Economist points out a few:
1) Entrepreneurs are loners
I think the economist was hinting at the idea that many people confuse entreprenuers with inventors. The mad scientist stereo type is a long shot from todays business innovators, and many early stage investors make it a point to stay away from inventors. Its possible to find a healthy balance of both, but the inventor without the entrepreneur would just create something that never reaches the masses
2) Entreprenuers are not all young
Yet again, the defining characteristic is the disruption, innovation, and the size of the problem they solve, nothing else.
3) Venture Capital does not drive entrepreneurship
Though I agree with the Economist on this one, I would say VCs drive a portion of the entreprenurial community that is disproportionate to their roll in the ecosystem. In the end, VCs only fund a small part of the companies that are created each year, but because the concept of "early stage" investing is so interesting it attracts a lot of attention in the media and from entrepreneurs. As a result every new entrepreneur thinks they need an angel or VC round before they actually do anything.
4) Entreprenuers need to build big world changing products
Its all about the pain point that you are solving. The more pain you alleviate, the more money those people are willing to pay as your customers. If you're always shooting for the massive long term ideas you may miss the short term simple ones right in front of you.
5) Entreprenuership can only survive in small companies
I'm a big fan of this because I believe every aspect of daily life requires an "Entreprenuer in Residence", a smart person willing to come up with disruptive new ways to do the same old things.
The list is a lot longer than five, so I'll try to add more as i find them, but here's the biggest one of all:
Entreprenuership cannot be learned.
I'm not saying that only a certain type of person can be an entreprenuer, in fact its the opposite, anyone can be, but its not something they needed to learn. Spend some time in any "entrepreneurial community" (I'm in SF or NYC), and you'll see lots of people looking to learn the secret to entrepreneurship or the secret to getting venture money. There is no secret! Entreprenuers do what comes naturally to them, and they just start executing. Its something that innovators are compelled to do, and often can not prevent it. Its a form of passion being unleashed. The best you can do is meet with other entrepreneurs/potential mentors to help channel your efforts!