Entrepreneurs Create Value, NOT Duplicate It!
It’s 10:30pm and the Olympics are on but I’ve watched them up to this point through my personal video recorder (ReplayTV) which allows me to fast forward through the crap. But I’ve caught up with the live broadcast, so I thought I would freeze it where it is now, let the recorder record some more, come and blog and then go back and continue to watch where I left off and be able to skip the crap again. (Lesson… ReplayTV or TiVo are great ways to save lots of time. No man or woman should be without one, period!)
Anyway, back to the topic. I’ve touched on this before, but I think it bears clarification. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just owning your own business. Although, pathetically, by literal Webster definition, it’s basically anyone who assumes the risk of operating their own business. But I don’t think that goes far enough. I don’t consider someone who purchases a McDonalds franchise a true entrepreneur. They’re not creating value, they’re duplicating value. The person who originally concocted the fast food hamburger was the entrepreneur. The franchisee is basically an investor. Sure, there’s still risk involved in owning a franchise, but who really created the value in what you’re doing there?
If we stuck to the dictionary on the definition of entrepreneur, a person who buys and sells stocks for a living (their own or even for someone else) would be considered an entrepreneur. But they really aren’t. They’re risking money, sure. But they aren’t creating value where none existed before by coming up with a product or service that fulfills a need or desire. There’s a distinct difference.
Let me interject here. I’m not saying people that AREN’T entrepreneurs are of any less value in the business world. Not so. I just want the labels to be correct, that’s all.
Allow me to go one step further in my definition and clarify that an entrepreneur isn’t necessarily the person who invents the service or product that is so revolutionary. He/she could be, but not necessarily. For instance, Xerox ParcPlace invented the mouse and GUI interface that everyone on earth now uses in their more advanced form (the mouse and Windows.) But it was Steven Jobs that toured their facility and saw what they were doing and took the concept and ran with it. Thereby CREATING VALUE in the invention. In this case, Steven Jobs was the entrepreneur (and ONE of the most successfull ones in American history.)
So why do I even have to point this out? Why does it matter? Because I feel entrepreneurs are the ones responsible for our entire world as we know it. We create value where nothing existed prior. Every massive leap in technology can be traced back to an entrepreneur with a vision of just how it can change our world. We are the ones that fuel the economy by moving forward in our quest to bring to the world more and more value. We should basically be the most celebrated class of people that has ever existed. We should have a freaking monument in Washington DC, commemorating the entrepreneur. With Jobs, Gates, Dell, Croc, Bell, Turner, Hughes and a slew of others all in statue form lining the marble halls of this monument.
Instead, we have a French word as our moniker (anything French, bites!), we are maligned by friends and family as silly risk-takers because sometimes it takes 500 failed ideas until something takes off. To add insult to injury, we’re always scrapping for money to fund our ideas, hoping someone with money will share our vision when they probably can’t even recognize a good idea if it hit them in the head with a 2×4. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, but then again, if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be such a special breed.
Which brings me back to the Olympics… if everyone could run 100M in under 10 seconds, the people who CAN do it wouldn’t be immortalized in the history books.
As an entrepreneur, if you’re not striving to be immortalized with the implementation of your wonderful ideas, you’re not doing us justice. Most people are satisfied with a base hit in life, just so they can get on base. But we should ONLY be satisfied with a home run.
Swing for the fences, entrepreneurs! It’s our destiny.