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The Real Meaning of Entrepreneurship is Not Found in a Dictionary

By: Keith Orlean

The Mindset of an Entrepreneur
Failure and Success

In a world where the term 'entrepreneur' is casually thrown around by anyone who owns or aspires to own a business, it's important to examine the real meaning of entrepreneurship. While dictionaries loosely define an entrepreneur as someone who starts and owns a business, the reality is far more complex. Ownership alone doesn't make you an entrepreneur; it's the mindset that truly sets you apart. Let's explore the depths of entrepreneurship beyond the conventional definitions.

Defining Entrepreneurship: Mindset Over Ownership

Simply declaring "I'm an entrepreneur" doesn't communicate the actual experience of what true entrepreneurship really means. Real entrepreneurs are distinguished not just by owning a business but by a mindset fueled by passion, persistence, vision, and a willingness to take risks. In my view, experiencing failure and rebounding to success is a vital hallmark of true entrepreneurship.

The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

  • Passion and Persistence: Based on 40+ years as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurship requires a relentless passion for your vision, a fierce desire to succeed that keeps you moving forward even when faced with overwhelming challenges. The ability to persist through setbacks is what separates the winners from the losers.

  • Vision and Innovation: Successful entrepreneurs don't just aim for immediate results; they have a clear vision that extends beyond immediate successes. They embrace innovation and constantly seek ways to invent or improve upon what already exists. They want to be the best at what they do and are driven by their desire to win.

  • Willingness to Take Risks: Risk-taking is ingrained in their entrepreneurial DNA. True entrepreneurs understand that taking risks are part of the journey towards success. It's about stepping out of your comfort zone, making bold decisions, and learning from the outcomes, whether favorable or otherwise. Acceptance of failure is not a deterrent but a motivator to redefine, adapt, and ultimately find success.

  • Embracing Long Hours: Successful entrepreneurs are not clock watchers, they are task driven and enjoy the process as much as the results. The entrepreneurs mentality is not driven by negative thinking; they're committed to the vision that propels them forward, even in the absence of immediate rewards. For them, every day is an opportunity to build their future. They are willing to have a singular focus and sacrifice to reach their goals. The distinction lies in their mindset—entrepreneurs are driven by the excitement of how they see their future, and not confined by any pre-defined parameters.

Problem-Solving Mindset

  • Seeing Problems as Opportunities: True entrepreneurs see problems not as roadblocks but as opportunities to innovate and solve. Each challenge is a chance to get closer to their goals. They tackle problems head-on, understanding that finding solutions not only resolves immediate issues but also builds a repository of knowledge for the future. Entrepreneurs thrive in problem-solving, turning obstacles into stepping stones.

  • Banking Solutions for the Future: Solutions found today are not just for the current moment; they are banked for future use. True entrepreneurs understand that similar problems may arise, and having a repertoire of solutions provides a strategic advantage. This forward-thinking approach defines how entrepreneurs think and act — not just reacting to problems but proactively leveraging them for future success.

The Importance of Urgency, Purpose, and Expanding Your Knowledge

  • Sense of Urgency: In the entrepreneurial journey, acting with a sense of urgency and purpose every day matters. Entrepreneurship is not a passive endeavor; it thrives on proactive efforts to learn, adapt, and seize opportunities.

  • Having a Short Memory: Entrepreneurs should approach each day with excitement about the possibilities of achieving their vision and gaining control over their destiny. This isn't a made up feeling but a genuine one born out of passion and dedication. A short memory when it comes to failures or challenging days is crucial. The ability to bounce back quickly, learn, and move forward is what separates true entrepreneurs from the rest.

  • Embrace Learning: Regardless of your area of expertise that drove your desire to start your own business, in the early going there will be many hats that you wind up wearing as you work through the building process. This can be very frustrating to a budding entrepreneur as it was not what you expected as you planned your business journey.

To sum it up, entrepreneurship is a way of life characterized by passion, persistence, vision, risk-taking, and the ability to learn from both successes and failures. True entrepreneurs see problems as steps along the way, leveraging each challenge to get closer to their goals, and storing what they've learned from solving problems that will be useful for future endeavors.


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