By Kathy J. Marshack, Ph.D., P.S.
At one of our Entrepreneurial Couple Networking Breakfasts, Steven was trying to describe to a new member what it means to be an entrepreneur. “It’s like when you’re buying orange juice at the grocery store. I think twice about buying the more expensive brand, because I realize that every penny saved makes a difference for our business.”
There’s more here than saving a few cents. Steven is demonstrating the basic philosophy of successful entrepreneurs. It’s not really how much money he saves on orange juice that will make his business successful. The significance of his statement is that to be an entrepreneur, you must think like an entrepreneur. By considering the cost of orange juice, Steven is aware that he has made the success of the business a top priority. He thinks about the business needs even in the simple act of picking up orange juice for his family.
If you want to be an entrepreneur you must think like an entrepreneur. In other words you must have a vision that is bigger even than your business idea. Your business is a part of your life, just like your marriage and your children. It’s not a job you check in and out of. An entrepreneurial venture is a reflection of you, your values, your beliefs, your strengths and your faults. Even if you have another job to pay the bills while your business is getting going, the true entrepreneur does not think of his or her venture as a part-time business or a hobby. They live and breathe the business, day and night, week in and week out.
Yes it’s true that this kind of commitment can cause problems for the entrepreneur. They sometimes make no time for their personal relationships or their own health. But if kept in perspective the entrepreneur can find tremendous satisfaction in working at something he or she has created. Watching this creation grow, seeing it benefit his or her family, achieving a long dreamed of goal . . . all of this can be quite thrilling.
Interestingly Steven is not even the founder of the business. He is what I call a supportive spouse, the one who works at a job to provide the income and insurance benefits for the family, while his wife pursues the business venture. But Steven is thinking like an entrepreneur too. He realizes that as a spouse his attention needs to be focused on the welfare of the business every bit as much as his wife. Successful entrepreneurs frequently have glowing praise for their spouses, the people without whom they could never have succeeded. So not only do you have to think like an entrepreneur, but your spouse needs to think like one too, or at least be open to supporting your vision.
Entrepreneurship is not for the feint of heart. It is a tremendous responsibility to recognize that every action you take is related to the business and to the people who depend upon that business, such as you, your family, your employees and customers. When Steven considers which orange juice to buy, he is weighing all of these considerations. It may surprise you but entrepreneurs are not really risk takers. In fact they weigh all of their decisions very carefully. While they may be willing to go where the average person is fearful of going, they analyze every move to reduce the risk as much as possible. Because their venture is a top priority, and because they think in terms of the big picture, the entrepreneur buys the orange juice that is good for his family and good for his business.
If you believe you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, ask yourself if you can do the tedious work of integrating your every move and decision into the template of a business venture. True entrepreneurs don’t even realize that they think this way. It is just natural for them to be whole-brained thinkers, with their heads in the future, but their feet firmly planted in the present. When they buy orange juice, they may not really think about the cost, but they are aware that time and money are precious, and that they want to use them wisely to accomplish their dreams.