Opportunities never end, and often opportunities may come your way when you least expect them. You may be on the train, or watching the news, or interacting with someone.
Have you ever heard any of the various stories surrounding the invention of the cat’s eyes? Apparently children visiting the factory where cat’s eyes were made were told that the idea came from Percy Shaw (the inventor) seeing light reflected from his car headlamps by tram tracks in the road on a foggy night. Of course cat’s eyes are exported all over the world. That is the power of a simple idea.
Was Percy Shaw an Entrepreneur when he started? Apparently, he was inventive even at an early stage, but the cat’s eyes will always be associated with his name. The point of course is that he became a business owner in order to develop his idea.
This brings me to the question I have often wondered about; “Is there a difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur? If so what are the different traits?
Who is an Entrepreneur? Who is a Business Owner?
Wikipedia lists several definitions of Entrepreneurs given by various scholars:
“Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products, new services”; or
“An entrepreneur is someone who searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities. Innovation is a specific tool of an entrepreneur hence an effective entrepreneur converts a source into a resource”
These definitions make it very clear that an Entrepreneur is not just a business owner. A business owner may be very prudent and may take “calculated” risks. He is less interested into “shattering the status quo” and more interested in simply making a profit. He may be more inclined to view and use existing ideas as a business opportunity rather than developing something new. He is also likely less inclined to create a brand. Many brands today are associated with successful Entrepreneurs, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs to name just 2 whereas a business owner may lack the creativity needed to create a brand.
Another major difference is that the business owner works IN his business. He finds it difficult to delegate and he may think of himself as indispensable, sometimes with good reasons. Thus his business may not continue should he decide to retire. Strategically a business owner who is not an Entrepreneur is less focused on marketing and more focused on managing his business.
Why it is important to think like an Entrepreneur?
It is important for two reasons:
1. The Economy is Constantly Changing
Work is not plentiful the way it used to be and therefore having individuals who can set up businesses is very important to both the local and the national economy. Having individuals “who can shatter the status quo” is even more important. These individuals bring change and thrive on change thus fuelling the economy. The education system is catching up to the need of encouraging people to set up businesses but there is much work to be done. Running a business is a serious business. The vast majority of start-ups fail in the first year because the owners don’t know the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
I watched with interest this video on a Welsh initiative designed to develop business through education. Here is the link http://www.euronews.com/2012/10/01/taking-business-into-welsh-schools/
Initiatives such as these ones should be much more widespread. The economy needs business owners, and those who think like an entrepreneur in particular, who can develop new ideas into business opportunities.
2. The Focus is on Marketing
I am an accountant and for years I did not involve myself in marketing. My business remained small until I realised that I needed to market my business not as an accountant but as an Entrepreneur. No business will grow much unless the business owner realises how important it is to understand at least the basic principles of marketing. The more we think like an entrepreneur, the more involved in marketing we want to be, it is a simple as that.
I did not write this short article to elevate Entrepreneurs above business owners. An individual who does think like an entrepreneur but does not know how to run a business will fail. Similarly a business owner who is not Entrepreneurial will stagnate. I would like to encourage small business owners to think more like Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs like business owners. It is a good combination for a successful business.
How often do you think like an entrepreneur? Are you shattering the status quo? Take a few moments to think like an entrepreneur about your business – what action could you take that would enhance your brand, what opportunity could you grasp, what calculated risk could you take? When you’ve decided, take action and review the impact on your business.