Who is an Entrepreneur?

Last week in one of our afkar.me (our incubation / acceleration initiative for the MENA market) our youngest team member, who is a brilliant and extra energetic girl made a quite interesting statement when we were discussing about our value proposition for our entrepreneurs. She said: “well, you know that I’m not an entrepreneur, so I just can try to think like one”. To which I replied: “why you are not an entrepreneur?,, you have a well defined objective and all the freedom to reach then, you also manage a project and you are entitled to managed as your own?”. Then she replied: “I’m not an entrepreneur because I don’t have ownership”. So, that statement and position that many people share, gave me the idea to develop a view around it.

According to Wikipedia, “Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a business or other organization. The entrepreneur develops a business model, acquires the human and other required resources, and is fully responsible for its success or failure”. Other definition from a more traditional source like Merriam-Webster states: “An Entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise”. So, if we analyze these definitions or many others that we might find, all of them share three particular components that we can isolate:

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1.    An Entrepreneur is a starter: An entrepreneur is an initiator!, a challenger and a driver. Someone that creates something new, either an initiative, a business or a company. He is the beginning –and some time the end, of a venture, project or activity. However, the entrepreneur might not be the ideator, but is definitely the one that decides to make the idea a reality;

2.    An Entrepreneur is the Driver: The entrepreneur is the person in charge, the leader and the person to look at. He is the one that pushes forward and inspire a team to follow him. The entrepreneur is the one that sits on the driving sit, so he has the ability to change direction, accelerates, slows-down or even stop the venture;

3.    An Entrepreneur is Accountable and Responsible: The entrepreneur is the ultimate responsible for the destiny of its venture, which can be a company, a project, or any other endeavor. Therefore, in general, the entrepreneur is the one that has the highest stakes at the venture, thus the one that needs to be empowered to fully drives the endeavor;

From the above, we can clearly see that being an entrepreneur is not directly related to have an equity stake in a company, but rather with the three components we just discussed. So, why we tend to associate entrepreneurship with equity ownership (as value) instead of understanding it as the one that has the highest stakes in an endeavor, which sometimes gets translated into entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is more than financial gains

We tend to associate entrepreneurship with direct financial benefits and risk, but not only when the entrepreneur has equity in the company, he is exposed to the financial upsides and downturns. Corporate ventures and corporate entrepreneurship allows “corporate entrepreneurs” to benefit of the upsides of their projects without having equity stakes.

Corporate Entrepreneurship Exist!

Traditional corporate culture, tend to disregard the entrepreneurial approach. However, with the affluence of new startups and disruptive innovations, corporations have been forced to embrace the entrepreneurial approach towards running and operating their business. An entrepreneurial approach is not only more agile and dynamic, but also results in a more lean operation while –by providing a high level of empowerment to people, creates a strong sense of ownership, which results on better outcomes for any endeavor.

Passion is the Real drive

But there is another element, which besides is not explicit in most of the definitions; it really lies at the center of any entrepreneur. This is: Passion! An entrepreneur poses an interior fuel and stamina that drives his actions, this superior energy helps him to overtake and surpass the different challenges he faces, but also gives him the strength to continue pursuing his goal when difficulties and challenges arrive.

So, anyone can be an entrepreneur and behave like one, with complete independence of whether h/she is the equity holder of certain venture. At the end, all lies into the attitude that can be taken towards running an endeavour. 

Therefore, GO! and be an entrepreneur!

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