What makes an entrepreneur?

Jan 2017

BY David Lane, Partner and Technical Director LGT Vestra

What makes an entrepreneur? The Oxford Dictionary would tell us that an entrepreneur is “a person who makes money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves taking financial risks”. Is that it? Sounds a bit thin to me. Although the definition captures two key ideas of making money and risk, when I look around at the people I know or indeed wished I knew, and who have created different types of organisations and businesses there is a nagging feeling that being an entrepreneur” amounts to far more.

Richard Branson is quoted as saying “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had - everyday I’m learning something new." For those people that I have seen build and grow successful businesses this quality seems to be almost overwhelming, the constant willingness to push on, to develop, to create the “something out of nothing”. There is restlessness, confidence and determination, an energy that means that no matter how difficult things are the desire to improve and innovate is central to their personality and the businesses they create.

An entrepreneurial business is a living, breathing entity. It needs nourishment in the form of new ideas and approaches, it must be outward looking, searching for the next opportunity, always challenging itself, never accepting the status quo. Time for another quote, this one attributed to Mark Twain who observed “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I think he was onto something.