I must have collected about a dozen definitions of the word entrepreneur over the years and if I am honest none of them seem to be particularly appropriate, in my mind, to the way we tend to use the word these days.
I was involved in a recent debate about the relationship between entrepreneurial thinking and the desire to own or run a business and I can’t help thinking that the two are different and not necessarily connected, but that is a diversion.
This week’s Thursday’s Thoughts turn to the paradox of the entrepreneur, or one of them at any rate. However we define an entrepreneur it must surely have something to do with making things happen, making a change. It has to do with resilience, persistence, never giving up, and a can-do attitude that prevails at all costs.
Peter Drucker defines an entrepreneur thus
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”
And so in some way the entrepreneurial spirit is also inextricably linked with change. Therein liesthe roots of at least one of the many paradoxes that a successful business person must be able to accommodate.
In Jim Collin’s analysis of truly great businesses in the book “Good to Great” he refers to “The Hedgehog Concept”. This refers to the fact that the hedgehog has only one strategy while the fox has many of them and yet the hedgehog continues to survive and to thrive because the hedgehog is a true master of his strategy and never ever deviates from it. His strategy is a simple one of rolling into a ball to protect himself. The Hedgehog Concept refers to the unique point of strength of all great companies and is the intersection of the following three concepts.
What are you deeply passionate about?
What can you be the best in the world at?
What drives your economic engine?
Great companies know what their Hedgehog Concept is and never ever deviate. The paradox is that this implies a focus and concentration that in many ways is at variance with the nature of the entrepreneur who may be restlessly moving from one are a of interest to another.
The way to build value in any business is by having a laser like focus on your core customer and core product. The business that tries to be all things to all people can very quickly end up by being nothing to anyone.
There are many paradoxes to be encountered in running a successful business.
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