Entrepreneurs don’t have a choice but to be the top sales guy within the company. They’re the ones in front of customers, prospects, and investors, selling the company and its products to others. They have to be the chief evangelist. They’re the ones who’s business success rests upon their shoulders. Nobody will sell it quite like they can. No one can make decisions affecting the company quite like they can, either. Elon Musk doesn’t have a choice but to be the top sales guy at Tesla and SpaceX. No one can care about the life of these companies quite like him. Sure, others can get a piece of the action and care, but not quite like Elon. Jeff Bezos will always be the top sales guy at Amazon. He’s the one with the most skin in the game. The same can be said for any startup founders whose enterprise has gone on to become successful. They took the early, initial risk of founding a company despite conditions of extreme uncertainty. They pushed it forward despite the obstacles they encountered. We celebrate them in America because they stand for so much of what we stand for: freedom, opportunity, independence, and prosperity. People like Musk won’t work for others because they can’t. Jeff Bezos can’t, either. Bill Gates couldn’t. So, they struck out on their own in order to found and helm their own successful enterprises.
Entrepreneurs take on all the risk. They are the epitome of risk takers. Starting a company is beginning a new enterprise under conditions of extreme uncertainty. You’re beginning despite market conditions. You’re beginning despite finances. You’re beginning because you feel you must, like it isn’t an option, like you don’t feel you have a choice. It is, of course, a choice, but you don’t feel it. It feels more like an obligation, a must. We celebrate entrepreneurs because they take on all the risk in an enterprise. They are the ones who’s livelihood depends upon business success. They are the ones who push progress forward. They are the ones who create. Not just jobs for others, but innovation. They give us better ways of doing old things, of improving historical methods. They are about making us better, more efficient and effective.
Since they take on most of the risk, they also reap most of the rewards. It is a symbiotic relationship. With high potential risk come great potential reward (and great potential loss). They accept this trade-off as reasonable while most would not, especially those with much to lose. They see it as exciting and exacting. It makes them sharper. It is the tip of the sphere — where they want to be.
Entrepreneurs are tinkerers. They are always trying to improve processes and systems. They think, “How can I simplify this?” and “What would this look like if it were easy?” Or, “How else might we approach this problem?” So much of our work is about solving problems. It takes different approaches and multiple angles from which to view them. One angle is insufficient. They are dedicated to continuous improvement. They have a vision for a better future and look to execute on that vision each day. While most people are stymied by problems, entrepreneurs tackle them with gusto. They get after it. They know that the key to adding value in the marketplace is by solving difficult problems. Further, this gains them influence and reputation. They get known as a person who can get stuff done.
Entrepreneurs can’t stop. Starting companies and solving problems is their lifeblood. It is what they do. It is who they are. After the successful sale of a company, do you notice that the founders typically don’t stick around very long? They usually feel stymied by the acquisition and feel that they can no longer add the value they once did. So, they usually move on within a year or 18 months, and then go start another company. They develop the serial reputation for founding businesses. It’s as if they cannot help themselves. They want to always be a part of the startup action, the early days, the desire and drive to make something better or to solve bigger problems. They embrace the early conditions of extreme uncertainty — the market, the product, the people — and forge ahead again into the headwinds, taking on challenges few of us would choose to take on.
An entrepreneur friend of mine says that his pursuit of revenue for this company is like someone is constantly trying to hold his head just below water so that he can’t breathe. He says it is like he’s water-boarded. He says this is the basis for his drive for success. If he doesn’t do it, it feels like he’s gonna die. That’s an incredible, if not sad, way to describe one’s drive. How comfortable would you be if that were your daily feeling? How would you operate if that was the feeling? How well would you take that daily pressure? Granted, his state of being may be an outlier, and it may have greatly improved since we last talked, but this really drove him to success. He felt like he didn’t have a choice. That is performance necessity for entrepreneurship. You have no choice but to succeed. Your life depends upon it.