By Jerry Brand, founder of entrepreneur’s charity, The Brand Foundation (www.brandfoundation.co.uk)
The definition of a typical entrepreneur has morphed into something quite different from what it meant 20 years ago and now covers many different groups of people although, there is some confusion in my view, as to what is really meant by the word ‘entrepreneur’. The traditional entrepreneur is the individual who starts a business idea from scratch as opposed to the ‘intrepreneur’ who gets the idea through trying to better the organisation they work for. That said, sometimes the intrepreneur takes the idea outside the organisation if there is no board level appetite.
A true entrepreneur is all about the ‘CLICK’: Creativity, Leadership, Impact Confidence and Knowledge. Entrepreneurial traits usually include charisma, a focused mind, positive energy and a ‘never say die’ outlook on life. They are also experienced, broad minded and good listeners who will take advice but stick to their guns and have the courage to make their own decisions.
Like a dog with a bone
Of course, the entrepreneur can sometimes frustrate the hell out of everyone around them because they can be like a dog with a bone, but the successful entrepreneur is rarely wrong when it comes to gut instinct. On the flipside, they are also the first in the queue to put their hand up if they made the wrong decision, or think there is something wrong in their grand master plan – and that is an important trait. Too many people go down with the boat while continuing to argue they are right.
But as mentioned, the world of the entrepreneur has evolved beyond all recognition and today we will often hear the term ‘intrepreneur’ too. An intrepreneur is usually already working for a business as an employee. They might be an experienced corporate manager who sees an idea and seeks strong financial backing and instant resources. Intrepreneurs tend to own up to 20% of the shares of the business vs. the traditional entrepreneur who owns close to 100% by the time the business is established. You also wouldn’t expect an intrepreneur to show all of the characteristics associated with a traditional entrepreneur. Instead, somewhere there will be some kind of security or terms and conditions when they launch the business, especially if it is as an offshoot of the organisation they work for.
Less risk but less reward
But the truth is this is a growing area in terms of the founding of new businesses today. We are seeing more and more intrepreneurs coming to the forefront and there is good reason for this. Namely less risk, but some might argue less fun and far less reward than going it alone. That said, the risk factor is what stops many people from taking the plunge to move forward with a new business idea – so intrepreneurialism is one way of getting around that.
The fundamental differences between these two groups of potential ‘innovators’ are that intrepreneurs are not 100% risk takers, otherwise they would be out there on their own, driving around the M25 in freezing conditions in mid-winter, in their partner’s old beaten up Beetle (with no heating) and parking the car well away from their potential client’s car park in case they are seen leaving! The intrepreneur would have a warm, C-Class Mercedes company car at the very least.
The rise of the child prodigy
When looking at the entrepreneurial spectrum, its important to recognise the rise of the child prodigy too – the future entrepreneurs of our world. I suspect there are more child prodigies out there than we imagine, some with pretty great ideas too. Of course, some won’t manage to get off the ground at that stage in their life for varying reasons parental permission, school demands, lack of cash etc. Or they may not be cut out for the world of the entrepreneur.
A real entrepreneur is very instinctive; they don’t simply have an idea and then get an urge to do something about it. The urge comes first (which is instinctive), and then the ideas come (and many of them won’t have legs), but eventually they will find the right idea and then their success is based on how much of the ‘CLICK’ they have through natural ability as opposed to education.
The social entrepreneur
The social entrepreneur is the latest buzzword in the entrepreneurial sector. This is essentially related to doing good things for the world and the local community or environment. It is a really nice concept with good potential and is something I see as being important in the future certainly from the perspective of helping tech start-ups with social entrepreneurial ambition. However, with the apparent ‘social enterprise’ debacle this will definitely need to be better regulated, otherwise it will become just another ‘label’ without meaning for entrepreneurs.
Of course, whatever the definition, entrepreneurialism itself is a great way to bridge the gap between the large corporates and globalisation because these larger companies will eventually buy the rising new businesses. With regards to intrepreneurship many commentators agree that this is not really supported in large global companies mainly because it generates risk and disruption. How many times have you heard the word ‘disruption’ associated with an entrepreneur?
A changing landscape
Today there are far more ‘hangers on’ in the world of entrepreneurialism. You often hear of mentors who ‘help’ start-ups (but one has to question why they aren’t they too busy doing it for themselves)? Funding is also more difficult to obtain today, but less so if you have the right idea and the entrepreneurial get up and go to make it happen.
Some things however, never change. The cost/income ratio is still vital and is balanced by the value for money factor – you don’t make sales if you are too expensive and if you don’t control your costs you go out of business. That’s the ‘real’ entrepreneur’s world and that hasn’t changed, no matter how far you look back over the years.
What has changed with the Internet and technology advancements is the speed of coming up with related ideas to share your initial overheads with your initial business idea; but the fundamentals are still there. Also, I suspect the average age of the entrepreneur must be early twenties by now, whereas back in the late 1980’s when I kicked off my first business, I was 31 (and considered a young upstart!)
Taking the step
Over the next 10 years, I expect to see rationalisation within the entrepreneurial world. It will evolve through what is happening right now. We are going to have the mentors/funders/investors getting more involved and then those real entrepreneurs out there may realise they’ve not been getting value for money from them (so they will get pushed onto intrepreneurs plus the companies will start to buy up each other).
What the future does need is a free modeling and forecasting system that people with business ideas can use to road test their idea before they shed cash – this will help with the current 90% attrition rate of startup failures and perhaps encourage more people to take the more risky step of becoming a true entrepreneur.
About The Brand Foundation – www.brandfoundation.co.uk
The Brand Foundation is a registered charity (no. 1165700) that is providing a free to use, secure online app, to give all budding entrepreneurs with a great business idea, the chance to succeed; regardless of personal circumstances. Members can register online and model their business idea/s for free using BizKit, a specialist tool that will allow them to forecast their first three years’ trading figures with no future commitment. The Foundation aims to help individuals avoid the common mistakes that so often lead to start up failure.
The Brand Foundation is a not for profit organisation funded through sponsorship and upgrade fees to BizTik (an advanced application that provides full funding analytics and offers access to potential funders).