It's been a couple of weeks since our 2nd Dream Factory, where we spent 3 fantastic days with 12 aspirant entrepreneurs. Here are some of the insights gathered that you may find of use, especially if you are considering am I an entrepreneur or what type of entrepreneurial business/cause do I want to bring to life.
Before I go into this too much I wanted to share a quick story from a conversation I had recently with an entrepreneurial friend who is separating from their business partner. When I was talking to them it was all rather fraught, they were disagreeing about money and my friend was even considering simply folding the business up and starting again. As I listened I could hear this real inner tension about what to do and so I simply said 'this sounds more like a legacy than a business to me, are you sure you want to let this go?'…..there was a thoughtful pause down the end of the telephone line and then the response 'I know what I want to do’; one simple question had helped this wonderful person decide what to do.
The business is now solely owned by my the friend, who is very clear that this business is worth the additional investment in time, money, commitment and energy because it isn't simply a business, it's far deeper than that, this is her lifetime's work and is a genuine 'legacy business'.
The reason I share this story is that during the course of the 3 days at the Dream Factory I could hear different types of personal drivers being shared by the aspirant entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs you rock this world
Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are in my personal opinion are the rock stars of our world! It is obvious to me that there are multiple types of entrepreneurs who have different drivers, mindsets, needs, wants and desires, not unlike the rest of the human population. Whilst we want to position entrepreneurs as super human in my experience they are ordinary people who do some pretty extraordinary things. I have many clients and friends who are entrepreneurs and when you ask them, what is special about you? and you will often get the response 'not much' or 'I don’t know' or 'anyone can do it'.
Entrepreneurs are very often driven by something that's not easily described and sometimes not truly understood by them or others around them….what I do know is that a lot of the entrepreneurs that I meet, if not all of them, have some inner vision, story or desire that fires up their internal combustion engine and works like rocket fuel to keep them moving ahead when less extraordinary people would pack up and go home.
So here is a little list of some of the types of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs that I get to meet. None of this is meant to be overly scientific, it's far more towards the 'art' side of the diagnostic world, but if you are starting out on the entrepreneurial journey or you simply want to understand yourself a little more, it's probably quiet useful to know from where you start from within yourself. None of these are cast in stone, nor would I say that you are just simply one of these, BUT it's essential that you have a sense of what drives you to be an entrepreneur, you will need to draw on this inner resilience for when things don’t turn out the way you hope or when you are met with some form of failure or lesson. Yes, that's right there is likely to be lots of failure or as I prefer learning on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
What type of entrepreneurial drive do you have?
Capitalist – are driven to create, invent, develop and bring to market something that will solve a group of customers needs and has the potential to really scale and make a large amount on surplus cash, value and ultimately wealth. Entrepreneurs of this type are looking to get to the next level and always have an eye on how to 'sell out' or 'sell on' their business idea. The product or service is of less importance to them as long as it has the opportunity to make them a lot of money at the point either selling the business or during its lifetime. These entrepreneurs can sometimes simply come up with one product, service or business that they can sell and that is it, job done my entrepreneurial journey is over, now to kick back and enjoy being immensely wealthy and sometimes they build multiple businesses over time.
Social – are driven to make a difference to a group of people at a local, regional and or global level. They are often driven to improve some form of social injustice, perceived ill or wrong or to help a group of people who are currently underserved in the world. There are many social entrepreneurs who are delivering fantastic services to people who often struggle to gain access to services because they find themselves in the poverty trap. Social entrepreneurship has been in vogue for a period of time now and rightly so because they are doing so much good in the world. However, a challenge that many social entrepreneurs find is how to fund, monetize and make sustainable their impactful idea. Many social entrepreneurs burn the midnight oil, work longer hours than many and still find that they don’t have sufficient funds to meet even their own personal financial needs. It's essential that these types of entrepreneurs identify sources of grants, funding or sources of income that can enable their business idea to grow in a manner that is economically viable and sustainable.
Legacy – are driven to make a difference and contribution in the world that is for a purpose or calling that goes beyond their lifetime. They want to bring something alive in the world that they believe offers real value and that connects deeply to something, someone or some cause that they care about and connect with in a deeply profound manner. A lot of legacy entrepreneurs are people who have made their money in some other form and have decided to 'give back' to others or things who they believe are deserving. A legacy entrepreneur can cut across the capitalist and social entrepreneurial type there are many forms of these in existence. The people who drive these organisations will often make decisions with the long term view in mind, they know that if they want to be around for the long-term that they need to build something that has longevity. Legacy entrepreneurs play for the long term with no real care or focus on the economic factors for themselves, this is an organisation grown with a depth of vision that goes beyond their lifetime or as Charles Handy once wrote they are 'cathedral thinkers'.
Serial – are driven to keep on creating, innovating or bringing new ideals, ideas, products, services or businesses to the market. The cause may be of interest to them but what is of more fascination is the idea and the potential of growing it into something that works and adds value in the world. These types of entrepreneurs MUST surround themselves with people who love to structure, embed and scale new ideas products, services etc. because once they have got one idea into a great place they are highly likely to want to move onto the next idea. They have an unquenchable thirst to keep innovating and bringing new ideas and initiatives to the market. Whilst it’s nice to get these to a point of sale this is often a positive by product because for these types of entrepreneurs it's the creative process that they love, it's like a positive addiction to them, they get a huge amount of energy from taking on the roller coaster of start-up and taking a business to the tipping point of success.
Portfolio or Lifestyle – whether you call these types of people entrepreneurs or not, one thing that is definitely true is that more and more people are deciding to go on their own and create the lifestyle they want using their business as a source of freedom, independence and autonomy. What drives a lot of these people is that they want to priorities other areas of their life as much and if not more than work itself. They have a clear vision for the type of life they want to lead. On a personal level I know this. 3 years ago I made the decision that I wanted to spend more quality time with my kids and so I decided that I wouldn't work in August and I would also take time off in their holiday periods and also for part of December and January. I didn't know if it would work but I can tell you that it has and does. Across many countries across the world there are less 'employment' opportunities that are appealing to people and in this case setting up your own business becomes very appealing. I see a lot of Mums (and some Dads) identifying this as a really exciting opportunity for them to create a business that fits around their busy family lives. I think this portfolio and lifestyle business will be a mega trend across the world for the foreseeable future.
Necessity – when I spent time a few years ago in a village in Africa and other places in India it struck me that there are many people in the world who because of the circumstances they find they have no or little option than to set up a business that can sustain their lives. Their primary driver is to provide for their family, to be able to put food on the table and to ensure their life is sustainable. I will always remember meeting Leah (pictured here on the right) in Tanzania, here was a grandmother who was also the matriarch of her family. Her husband was no longer alive, she had elder children who had disabilities and life is tough when you find yourself in this circumstance. What was amazing about Leah is that she hadn't sat back and given up with the challenges of her life, she had made a choice to take responsibility and to provide for her family. Leah was energetic she was always buzzing around meeting people, listening and identifying what needs they had that she could serve. Here are just a few of the products she had developed – she sold cashew nuts to the local government offices, she had chickens, ducks, cows that she used for meat, eggs and milk, she had created her own bees nest so that she could harvest the honey and she had built a water tank in her garden that she was going to turn into a fish tank so that she could produce and sell fish to the local market. For me Leah wasn't only a necessity entrepreneur, she also had the capacity to be serial in that she was always looking for the next idea to sustain her family. We ended up building the 'golden egg' chicken farm on her land and she is one of the 5 women who had co-ownership.
Purposeful – I think there is one final type of entrepreneur that I see emerging and personally I put myself in this category. These are people who seem to be able to blend the best from each of the areas above. They have developed a business that has a deep sense of legacy, purpose and contribution. They build this organisation with a clear sense of what will make this sustainable and will ensure that it has good cash flow and longevity. They are committed to really raising the bar and making a positive impact to people or causes in the world and whilst they are doing this with a 'social conscious' they are also smart to think about ensuring it has a strong capitalist underpinning to ensure that it's not reliant on external funds and that it runs as a successful and profitable entity. I think these types of entrepreneurs understand the power of the 'gifting economy' and of the 'gift' it is to be in service of other peoples needs, wants and desires. They do things with the long term in mind AND at the make decisions that are financially prudent and aligned with their organisation stated purpose.
MOE HEALTH WARNING
People are far more complex than the models that I've outlined above and in truth people can be any number of these. The key insight is that as the entrepreneur it is down to YOU to decide what it is that is driving you and what it is that you want to make happen in the world. If this little tour of potential types of entrepreneurs has been useful or got you to think about one thing differently or in a new way, then it's served its purpose for now :)
In my experience entrepreneurs can't help themselves, internally they simply know they are born to be this way, it's their calling in life to build a business or businesses. Unfortunately in life I see a combination of FEAR and LETHARGY often stops people from living their true calling in life. What we would say is that if you KNOW that you are an entrepreneur then it is ESSENTIAL that you follow your true path by taking action to make your DREAM a reality and to LIVE your lifelessordinary. MOE Foundation has been set up to help you and others like you so get in contact to see what 'gifts' we have for you.
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