If ever there is a lull in the conversation with friends or colleagues ask this question “Do you think entrepreneurs are born or made?” Your intellectual friend will start talking about ‘Nature vs. Nurture’, your film obsessed buddy will start talking about Eddie Murphy in the film ‘Trading Places’ and your posh friend will point to an article in The Times of London where psychologist Adrian Atkinson says “This theory that anyone can become an entrepreneur is absolute nonsense…”
Don’t Give Up The Online Business Just Yet
So, should you give up on the idea of starting an online business because you don’t have the necessary ‘entrepreneur characteristics’ or don’t have the qualifications or background to be an entrepreneur? Well before you delete your blog bear with me for just a few minutes.
Having built a hotel in the Caribbean when I was in my twenties and built a commodity trading business to over $300mn in volume in 18 months as well as other enterprises, I know one or two things about being an entrepreneur. A lot of what I have learned has not been from books or theoretical ‘business studies’ but by the people I have met and associated with, here are two;
I was at the hotel one afternoon stressing about the latest wall being knocked down and how over-budget we were going, when there was a tug on my shorts.
I looked down to see a little local fellow, no more than 7 or 8 years old. When I looked down he said “Excuse me Chief would you sponsor me”. Turns out that his Karate school needed a punch bag and this little guy had arranged a sponsored swim to raise funds. After convincing me to commit $10 he looked very pleased.
Ten minutes later there was another tug on my shorts, it was my little friend.“Excuse me Chief, I notice you have a punch bag hanging up around the back, can I have it?” One of the staff who had left us had hung this punch bag around the back of the hotel, and I knew nothing about it. I told my beaming new chum that if he could raise the man power he could have it. Twenty minutes later an army of little 8 year olds marched out with the punch bag on their shoulders like a crew of well drilled worker ants.
This kid was neither from a privilege background (quite the opposite in fact) nor did he have any business qualifications (he was 8!). He simply got off his butt, kept his eyes open for opportunity and asked questions. Born entrepreneur?
Pool Boy Entrepreneur
When we initially got the hotel the building was derelict and a vagrant had made his home there. Turns out his name was Mike, he thought he was ‘about 40’ and he had the mind of a 10 year old. I instantly liked him. We cleaned him up, gave him a proper little room to live in and set him to work doing any and all odd jobs, he was in his element.
Time came to open the hotel and Mike was worried. “There will be no jobs for me, Chief. I am sad” he said. Now if you met Mike you would instantly fall in love with him. He was sweet, caring and would do anything to please. All he needed was people to talk to and enough money to eat and have the odd drink. I spent time over the next few days teaching Mike how to clean the pool, how to address guests, where to get towels from and when he should talk to guests and when he shouldn’t.
Mike cleaned up, he not only did what I had told him to do, he told guests that whatever they needed they just had to ask, day or night. Mike went about every job he was asked with such gusto and pride that his tips amounted to what he saw as a huge fortune. Mike had EVERY disadvantage you could pile on someone to stop them being an entrepreneur but with the right training, and the heart to give it everything, Mike became one of my favorite Entrepreneurs.
Just Do It
There will be many people who say you can’t do it, that you have to be a certain way, that you have to have a certain background, that you have to have certain characteristics or even that you are too young or too old. Psychologists will always be coming up with ridiculous questionnaires to test whether you should even bother to start.
If you get to a stage where you are listening to these people just know this, being an entrepreneur is about a small equation that performed by anyone, can lead to success.
Desire + Repeated Action = Success
If anyone tells you any different, feel free to inform them about my Karate buddy and Mike The Pool Entrepreneur. These guys and others who I have met have taught me that everyone is given the entrepreneurial gift, some people just haven’t opened it yet.