What is an Entrepreneur?

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This has been a very interesting question to me lately. I recently read two fantastic articles about this exact question (sorry I can’t remember where) and it has started a chain reaction of events not only in my mind but also in my personal life.

The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as the following:
“A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.”

Interesting definition especially the risk element. A few years ago I got involved with my best friend in a business venture called Don’t-Q. While I had serious reservations about leaving my full-time job and joining him in this venture I finally made a decision one day, after months of meetings and confusion, to ‘just do it’.

I wasn’t sure about my decision and I was very concerned that my relationship with him would take a dive for the worse. The one thing I do feel I did right is that I took a calculated risk. This is important because I don’t like risk and truth be told, from what I’ve read recently, no entrepreneur likes risk.

In hindsight this was the most important decision of my life as a few months later my business partner and best friend passed away at the age of 25. It was a shock to us all but I thank God today that I did join arms in business with him because it was the best time of my life that I spent with him and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Sure the business took a serious dive for the worse financially but at the end of the day this was not as important as was my time spent with him.

A few months later after his death I decided that the business was no longer for me. We had built up a serious brand and without him the business just didn’t feel the same.

What next… I had been doing this thing called Hartman Productions as a real sideline effort since 1997 and I decided that it was now time to apply my skills to what I know and try and make the business work.

I didn’t expect much but 2004/2005 was a year of fantastic results which have surpassed even my greatest expectations. Was this all co-incidence or did the world have some other purpose for me that even I could not understand?

See I don’t believe in co-incidence. The world is ultimately what we make it and it’s really all about timing and good luck. There was no co-incidence in me going into business with my best friend despite all the negative thoughts I was having and had I not done that my current business would still be a sideline hobby that never amounted to much.

In the article I read recently the author was saying that entrepreneurs don’t like risk but what clearly distinguishes them from “normal” people is that their ego’s take over. It is ego that drives an entrepreneur to succeed and more often than not it is also the driving force behind an entrepreneur’s failure because they think that they can take a market they know nothing about.

The fact that ego overrides the risk factor an entrepreneur feels means that they can make the decision to do things despite all the odds stacked against them.

So the big question is do I have a big head? :)
Well I try and think not. As mentioned before I like to take calculated risk because I just don’t like failure. I never jump into a decision and I always weigh up the good and the bad options and base my decision on this.

Am I an entrepreneur? Well I guess the fact that I am here means that the answer is yes but I do still have a LONG way to go before I can successfully say I have achieved what I wanted to in life.

In the US (another article I read) the entrepreneur market is now almost completely over-saturated. The big problem in the US is that big corporate companies are now working out entrepreneur’s from their areas of expertise because they need to remain innovative and stay one step ahead of their competitors. A great example of this is that Walmart (a huge US supermarket) is now offering Web Design to its clients……. How the hell does a company like Walmart justify this as an area of their expertise?

The question I started asking myself is does this relate to a South African market? I thought long and hard and came up with the conclusion that at the end of the day there are still countless ways for an entrepreneur in South Africa to make money - and lots of it. I’m still trying to find my niche but I think if we’re all clever we can make some decent money as there is a world of opportunity out there for us in this country.

Risk is very important at the end of the day but I came to realise at my time with Don’t-Q that you haven’t truly experienced your business until you’ve really struggled financially and emotionally within it. I’ve seen the good and the bad and I’ve come through it a stronger person and I now welcome the next opportunity that presents itself to me in my life.