The other day I stirred quite a discussion when I remarked that some of the greatest entrepreneurs I’d ever met were not in business… that I’d even met civil servants and teachers who were great entrepreneurs!
Entrepreneurship is not just about making money.
__Think of an entrepreneur as someone who hungers to see transformation, and goes out to do something about it in an innovative and sustainable way.
A friend of mine who was a senior executive for a well-established business once came to me and said he was thinking of starting his own business:
"I’ve been working for 20 years; now I want to be an entrepreneur and start my own business."
My reply surprised him:
"If you’ve not been an entrepreneur in your job, you will not be an entrepreneur in your own business."
Then I added, "You should be an entrepreneur, whether or not you own the business. Every day you must go to work with the understanding that, first and foremost, you’re paid for being smart; for being someone who has ideas to innovate and find solutions to help your organization and its customers."
I remember discussing this with a guy who once worked for Microsoft, and was amazed when he started to tell me about the great products he’d developed himself, or helped to develop.
He’d say things like, "You know that product? Well, some of us went to Bill and said, ‘We’d like to develop this idea’ and he would look at it and say, ‘Go ahead,’ and we did… Great success!"
"Wow, you did that?!"
Then he laughed and said, "You didn't think that Bill Gates comes up with all the ideas, and we then execute, did you? Like little robots?! Hahaha, that's funny!"
“We see him only as the ‘Chief Entrepreneur,’ but there are a lot of entrepreneurs at Microsoft; it's not all Bill.”
A few months ago I visited a start-up company in Silicon Valley that was developing an amazing new product which I think will change the world. I will never forget how a young woman started her presentation:
"I wanted to change the world, so I did a PhD in Biochemistry; now I'm here working on this cool product." She wasn’t the owner of the business. Just like the guy from Microsoft, it was a mindset!
__Nothing can stop an organization once that kind of mindset is encouraged and nurtured. This powerful mindset should drive our approach.
I know some of you are going to say, "Where I work they don't allow me to come up with ideas or to express myself as an entrepreneur."
My answer would surprise you:
# That’s your opportunity! Start thinking about how you can change it.
# If you succeed, you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ll be successful wherever you go, and in whatever you do after that.
# Unleash the entrepreneur in you, right there where you work now, in whatever vocation it is.
Every organization must be designed in such a way that it attracts and keeps entrepreneurs at all levels, even if that organization is not-for-profit, and that includes government departments, and schools.
# Are you an entrepreneur in your job?
# Does your organization hire entrepreneurs?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, then there’s a problem. But you can change that mindset today, right where you are, because it always starts with one person recognizing it, and getting to work.