Back to basics: We are not all entrepreneurs

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I remember how years ago when the craze of motivational speaking took over our landscape, people were blantantly lied to that everyone was a potential entrepreneur, or that everyone could become an entrepreneur. I shook my head, cautioned as many as would listen to me, and warned that this was a very bad lie. Expectedly, there were those who responded to me with the argument that everyone could learn entrepreneural skills and become great business pushers. I remember speaking at a number of events and telling participants that they were either entrepreneurs or they needed to partner with entrepreneurs. I have repeated this at tech events ad nauseum.

Fast-forward to 2013, and here we are with many who ventured into the entrepreneural space having gone bust, their fingers burnt, and I am observing how the mantra is gradually changing. Experience is such a good teacher. People are seeing first hand that not all of us are entrepreneurs, and that not all of us have business skills or can learn them. Saying that anyone can learn entrepreneural skills is like saying that anyone can learn to code or learn to split atoms. That is just so stupid. It is so stupid that no-one should ever have believed it.

There are those who will never be able to draw a tree properly, no matter how much devotion they put into it. There are those who will never be able to handle the business side of things. And there are those who will never be able to understand a line of HTML, much less code in PHP or anything else. Being a great web developer does not translate to being able to run a successful web development business. One thing is involved in the former – web development skills. Two are involved in the latter – 1) web development skills, and 2) business skills.

Passion for (and skills in) a field is one thing. The ability to turn that passion into a thriving business is another. If you have a passion for something AND you have (or can master) the entrepreneural skills to get it going, blessed are you. There are not many people like that. Find out as early as possible whether or not you are like that, and if you are not, do yourself a favour and hire or partner with someone who has those skills. Do so, or find out later that you have believed a lie.

What was most amusing about listening to those motivational speakers then (from a distance where I stood) was how most of them had never run a business, but were able to pass themselves off as authorities in entrepreneurship. Being an MBA holder doesn’t make anyone jack either. I know people who work in the corporate world, who have an MBA but cannot manage a 5-man team to deliver targets. You have a skill and want to build a viable business with it? You might not need to be the CEO. That sucks? Yes. Get someone with the right skills to fill that need.

We cannot build sustainable businesses if we do not get the basics right. The very basic is that you understand your capacity and look for the right people to plug any holes that you are incapable of filling. No; we are not all entrepreneurs, and we can not all be entrepreneurs. Those motivational speakers collected people’s money and sold them a very dumb lie.

When listening to people, keep your thinking cap on. Don’t be a mumu. As always, thanks for reading the trash that I manage to string up. I wish you success.


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6 comments

  1. To me most motivational speakers just tell people what they know people want to hear “with their BS about how Thomas Edison tried a 1000 times b4 he invented the electric bulb or how Lincoln Abraham failed 9 times in his bid to be president of the USA”, all in a bid to sell books and get appearance fees.

  2. You just nailed it here. Thank God I’m not the only person out there who thinks this way. Bless you!

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