If you do a little research on the differences between business and entrepreneurship, you may come to the conclusion that a businessman is focussed on the commercial aspects of business and that means making a profit and an entrepreneur is focussed on innovation.
That is a good place to start and one I certainly agree with, but for me, it goes a lot deeper.
I am fundamentally an entrepreneur, but over the years I have learned to become a businessman and that was because I had to — there is at face value, a vast difference between having great ideas, innovating and disrupting markets, and being able to operate a business and return a profit.
The two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand and that is one of the reasons I believe that many startups fail in the first year and the odds of surviving 5 years or more are not stacked in their favor.
In the article “Business Failure: Why My First Recruitment Agency Failed,” I talk about my lack of business acumen being the main reason, and in this article, I will talk more about my entrepreneurial journey and my path to becoming a businessman.
But first, let me address one belief of mine that you may not agree with…the belief that we are all born entrepreneurs, not some of us, but all of us, and I will explain this more in the next section.
It took my children to really show me that the qualities of entrepreneurship are within us.
Children are naturally bold, determined, creative and they work purely on instinct.
No parent taught a child how to walk; they may have provided guidance but that determination to walk came from within…just the same as that determination to get a chocolate bar just before dinner and to keep talking to their imaginary friends when their parents are telling them to “grow up.”
But what really rammed the quality of instinct home for me was when I saw who my children would naturally go to when we had visitors…and who they would run a mile from.
Nobody taught them how to “read” people…it was an action that was totally natural to them…an instinctive action.
Entrepreneurs work hugely from instinct and they are bold, creative, determined, and would never change their lives for anything…so surely we should be a world of entrepreneurs, shouldn’t we?
The problem with growing up as a child is that adults get in the way…and I mean this in the nicest possible way because most parents have their children’s best interests at heart.
I remember being “shut down” as a child by various family members who told me that I needed to “grow up” and stop trying to emulate my superheroes from the cartoons, or play “stupid” games with my friends…that I needed to go and study to make sure I did well at school and that I have to stop talking about seeing ghosts!
I’m not trying to delve into psychology here, I am just making observations and my own conclusions based on what I have experienced growing up and what I see with my own children…you can draw your own conclusions.
So when parents start to shut down their children’s natural creativity, it lies dormant within them and for some, it may never surface again.
I was lucky because I was re-connected with my natural childhood traits, but only after something triggered that re-connection.
Martial arts was the first trigger — giving me the confidence to go out and face the world without fear and then meeting my college friend who inspired me to start a business with him…with both of us going through a rebellious phase.
I had children late in life, which is why I probably look at things differently and I encourage them to be themselves and remain in their creative states — all of them are active on social media and are fearless in what they put out…my youngest who is ten, talks confidently about aliens as well as football and technology!
The traits of entrepreneurship are firmly established with us, in my opinion anyway and it is a matter of re-connecting with them if you want to or leaving them undisturbed and allowing them to surface as and when.
What is a businessperson?
Any person who works in commerce can be classified as a businessman/person.
A businessman may be a high-level executive working for a large company, or a shareholder in a company, or someone who has started their own enterprise.
A person could go through school and college and get a business degree and then work for a large company to gain further hands-on business experience and education.
Many business people go on to study and gain a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which is a pre-requisite for senior executive job roles in larger companies.
In some ways, I wished I had gone back to college and gained a formal business qualification and simply because it would have taught me the language of business…but in the same breath, I am glad that I didn’t because at least I can say that my knowledge has been gained in the real world, through direct experience and trial and error.
I have made a ton of mistakes in business that have cost me a ton of money…but money can be earned back and the real-world experience will stay with me for a lifetime.
If I were to give you any advice, then I would have to say that although there is no substitute for real-world experience, you can short-cut the process massively by learning the language of business.
It’s a fine balance.
Learning the language for me was a hard slog and I had to learn about basic bookkeeping and accounting, administration, commercial finance, commercial law, and a host of other things while I was trying to sell my services and win the most important part of it all…customers.
My learning was enough for me to understand more than just the language of business because I was also operating in real-time so eventually the two dovetailed together.
But it was a long experience and one that cost me a lot of time and money.
There are many businessmen who are naturally in touch with their entrepreneurial qualities and this makes for a very powerful offering.
At face value, there is a huge difference between entrepreneurship and business, with the former focusing on innovation and disruption and the latter on commercial issues.
But if you share my beliefs, that we all born with the qualities to be an entrepreneur, you can see where the two areas interconnect.
My own personal journey has seen me start businesses from my natural entrepreneurial instincts and then going on to learn how to actually run a business…the hard way!
I placed my focus on innovation and disrupting the market — there is no better feeling than taking on the big boys and winning market share as a new startup and then continuing to do so.
But for me, it meant I had to also invest my time in trying to learn and understand the world of commerce.
There is no substitute for real-life experience, but the lessons you learn can be harsh and brutal…resulting in complete failure in some cases, so you have to be extremely careful if you are hell-bent on learning this way.
If you are a pure entrepreneur, then my advice to you would be to do both — take the time to gain the right qualifications and you don’t have to go all the way and get an MBA, just make sure you have some form of structured learning to complement your entrepreneurial skills and qualities.
If you are more on the pure business side, then it is time to re-connect with those childhood qualities that you were born with and bring them in to complement your com academic and commercial talents.
I am passionate about helping people reconnect with their innate entrepreneurial traits, so please get in touch with me if you want to discuss this, or any aspect of business and entrepreneurship:
Last modified: October 1, 2020