The idea of becoming an entrepreneur seems like an exciting adventure. But then you read formal definitions of what an entrepreneur is, and they all sound so boring. Is that actually what it’s like to be an entrepreneur — a dull and monotonous life of operating a business and assuming all its risks?
Of course not! I invite you to shift your perspective and wholeheartedly embrace a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit.
A person with an entrepreneurial spirit is a problem-solver who wants to get things done. A successful entrepreneur sees a need, believes wholeheartedly in a solution to the problem, and shares that solution with others. Being a problem-solver is at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit.
By the Book: What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur
I recently went looking for official definitions of an entrepreneur. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
- According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
- The Canadian bank BDC says, “An entrepreneur is someone who starts or owns a business.”
- The dropshipping organization Oberlo sets up entrepreneurship as “the act of creating a business or businesses while bearing all the risks with the hope of making a profit.”
- Investopedia defines being an entrepreneur this way: “An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards.”
None of these definitions are wrong, per se. And I’d venture to suggest that the Investopedia one may be the most exciting of the bunch.
But do any of them inspire you? Do they motivate you to run out and pursue a life of entrepreneurship? I can’t say they do that for me.
The Spirit of Entrepreneurship
Instead of focusing on what exactly an entrepreneur is, I’d rather consider things from a different perspective: what it means to have a spirit of entrepreneurship.
A person with an entrepreneurial nature recognizes that there are problems in the world. But they’re not simply content to observe the issues and complain about them. Rather, a person who is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit wants to find solutions.
Problem-solving is at the heart of purpose-driven entrepreneurialism.
Isn’t that a more exciting way of looking at things? If you’re an entrepreneur, you want to solve people’s problems. You’re driven to dig deep for solutions that actually work and to connect people to those solutions.
You build a business not primarily because you want to assume risks or turn a profit. Yes, those things may be part of the deal, but they’re not at the heart of what you do.
Rather, you build a business because you believe that you have something of worth to offer to others. They need what you have, and you’re passionate about getting it into their hands.
3 Components of Entrepreneurialism
With this idea of an entrepreneurial nature in mind, I’d like to revisit what it means to be an entrepreneur. In my experience, a successful entrepreneur is someone who does three things: identifies a need, develops a solution, and shares the solution with the people who want it.
#1) Seeing a Need
People have problems that they’re trying to solve. As an entrepreneur, you’re attuned to that. You’re paying attention to what’s going on around you and where people are lacking something in their lives.
Maybe you want to help people grow their businesses. Maybe you want to make a difference in their personal lives. Whatever your area of focus is, you identify a need that people have in that area.
At the same time, you understand that entrepreneurialism can meet your needs too.
As some of those definitions of an entrepreneur pointed out, one goal of being an entrepreneur is to turn a profit. By paying attention to the needs that other people want to have met, you can meet your own need for income.
Through your entrepreneurial endeavors, you can also meet your desire for freedom in your life. You can escape from the grind of the 9-to-5 and shape your life in a way that works for you.
There are things that you want in your life, and keeping an eye out for others’ needs can help you achieve them. You can merge your problem and another’s problem into the same problem, and that can solve both problems.
#2) Believing in a Solution
You can’t take hold of the entrepreneurial spirit by identifying needs alone. The next step is to find solutions for those needs.
You’re looking not for just any solution but one that you can fully believe in. With the power of belief on your side, you’ll be able to throw your entrepreneurial spirit fully into your endeavors.
Also, you’re searching for solutions that jive with what you have to offer the world:
- What you’re effective at
- What you love to do
- What you do that doesn’t feel like work
When you latch onto a solution that aligns with those characteristics, you’ll be working in your Zone of Genius. You can read more about that idea here.
#3) Sharing the Solution with Others
Entrepreneurialism and sales go hand in hand.
Salesmanship often gets a bad rap in our culture. People turn their noses up at sales because they have a sleazy image in mind of someone who tricks others into buying what they have to offer.
But at its core, that’s not what sales are all about.
Sales are about connecting with people. It’s about providing products or services that genuinely meet people’s needs. (You can read more about my sales philosophy in this article.)
To be effective in sales, entrepreneurs may go through a four-step process. It’s often known as the AIDA model.
- A — Attention: The first step in making a sale is to get someone’s attention. You can’t sell anything to someone who’s paying you no mind.
- I — Interest: The second thing to do is to hook the other person’s interest. This is the stage where you start showing the features and benefits of what you have to offer. You want the other person to see that what you have is worthwhile.
- D — Desire: Next, you focus on building the other person’s desire for your product or service. Appreciating what you’re offering is nice, but fully wanting it is the goal.
- A — Action: Finally, you put forth a call to action that will close the deal. You’re aiming for the other person to make the purchase or sign on the dotted line.
Remember, successful entrepreneurs are people-focused. They connect with other people so that they can share solutions with them. They know they have something worthwhile to offer, and they want others to experience it too.
An Entrepreneurial Dog
I’ve got a great example of someone with an entrepreneurial spirit to share with you, and it’s probably going to come from a place that you wouldn’t have expected. I was watching the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp with my wife recently, and I realized what an entrepreneurial guy Tramp is.
The scene that brought this to my attention is the one in which he sells Lady’s muzzle to the hardworking beaver.
Tramp has a problem — figuring out how to get Lady out of the muzzle. The beaver has a problem too — figuring out how to move the log down to the river. Tramp sees that he can solve both problems.
He goes to engage the beaver in his proposition, but the beaver thinks that he’s too busy at the moment to get involved.
Tramp believes wholeheartedly in the solution that he has to offer, though. So instead of giving up, he figures out how to express the problem in terms that are helpful to the beaver.
He even follows the AIDA formula to share his solution:
- A — Attention: He shouts at the beaver to get his attention.
- I — Interest: He raises the beaver’s interest by calling the thing a “log puller.”
- D — Desire: He builds the beaver’s desire for the muzzle by suggesting that it will make his work of pulling logs 66% easier.
- A — Action: He urges the beaver to take action by saying, “Simply place the strap between your teeth. Now bite hard!”
And Tramp is right in his conviction that he has the solution for everybody’s problems. Lady gets free and the “log puller” really does end up being at least 66% easier for the beaver.
Tramp may be a dog rather than a business owner, but what a great example of an entrepreneurial nature he offers us! Scrappy Tramp allows his entrepreneurial spirit to lead, and things end up better for everybody.
As an entrepreneur, you’re more than a business owner and operator. You’re a leader who possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and the conviction that you’ve got solutions worth sharing with the world.
For more lessons from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, listen to the conversation between me and my wife Paige in Episode 12 of The Shift to Freedom podcast.